Defending champion Spain, which has won the last three major soccer tournaments it has played, will be eliminated after two World Cup games if it follows a 5-1 humbling by the Netherlands with a loss today against Chile.
The five-day gap between games has been tough for central midfielder Andres Iniesta, who scored the only goal in the 2010 World Cup final as Spain beat the Netherlands.
“I wished we had played one or two days later because waiting is really hard,” Iniesta told reporters at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro. “I hope we play perfectly against Chile. It’s true we’ve not started well, but we still have the chance to recover and change the situation.”
Spain might not get past the group stage even if it wins against Chile and Australia on June 23. Chile, which beat Australia 3-1 on June 13, would advance to the second round with a victory against Spain today, when the Netherlands can also reach the round of 16 by beating Australia in Curitiba.
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“We have to face the situation as it is, as we have done before,” said striker Fernando Torres, whose goal in the Euro 2008 final brought Spain its first major title since 1964. “We are very positive, we trust each other and I think Spain trusts us. It’s a shared pressure. If we win or lose it is as a team, all 23 players and the coaches.”
Spain successfully defended its European title in 2012 and is seeking to join Italy and Brazil as the only winners of consecutive World Cups.
The defeat by the Netherlands was Spain’s biggest since a 6-2 loss to Scotland in 1963. Still, the country lost the opening game of the 2010 World Cup to Switzerland before going on to win the tournament.
Coach Vicente del Bosque said he knows the team that will start against Chile, without revealing the lineup. He said there would be changes, which could include goalkeeper Iker Casillas, who was at fault for three goals against the Netherlands.
“We can’t forget that 12 have not played,” Del Bosque said. “They still have their prestige, they play in big leagues, they play in great teams and they could have the opportunity.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Tariq Panja in Rio de Janeiro at firstname.lastname@example.org
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