Chile can take qualification out of Spanish hands.
So what now for the world champions? Nobody could have foretold what would happen after they took the lead against the Netherlands in their opening match last Friday night.
Vicente del Bosque’s team were torn apart by an Oranje blitz in the second half fuelling the notion that Brazil 2014 might be a tournament too far for a squad that’s been together a long time but has won the last three major tournaments in which it has taken part.
There were certainly few excuses for the Spaniards and del Bosque was punished for his faith in goalkeeper and captain Iker Casillas and striker Diego Costa. The former has played little football for Real Madrid over the last ninth months and La Liga’s top scorer has been struggling with injury – both could easily have been red-carded in the Group B opener against the Dutch had the referee stuck strictly to mandates and the champions would have found themselves in an even bigger hole.
As it is, they’ll be comforting themselves with the fact that they lost their opener against Switzerland four years ago and still came through, though the manner of the defeat must have been hard to take and, with Fernando Torres still looking a shadow of his former self, Spain look badly short of firepower and will find Chile a tough nut to crack.
Jorge Sampaoli’s side did what they needed to do against Australia without being particularly impressive but there is probably more to come from a team who are many people’s dark horses for the tournament this year. They are certainly impressive in attack, in particular Alexis Sanchez, but less so in defensive situations.
Their ability to cope with an aerial presence is a major worry going forward and possibly a chink of light for Spain if they can supply the ammunition for Diego Costa. But throwing in crosses, as Australia did, is not the Spanish way so it’s an interesting dilemma for the champions.
Failure to win would take matters out of Spain’s hands and Chile will be well aware of that fact. Del Bosque’s team may be facing an end of an era and we fancy the South Americans to play for, and get, a draw at 29/10 which would mean they would only need one more point to qualify for the last 16. Under 2.5 total goals is Evens.
The match kicks off at 8pm UK time on Wednesday June 18th at the Estadio do Maracana, Rio de Janeiro.