Honduras-Spain Preview

BY foxsports • July 27, 2012

In the span of one match, the ambitious dreams of Spain have given way to the urgency to overcome adversity.

La Roja try to bounce back from a stinging upset Sunday and keep their hopes of reaching the knockout round of the Olympic soccer tournament alive at St. James' Park in Newcastle, where they face Honduras in a Group D match.

The two-time reigning European and 2010 World Cup champion at the senior level, the younger Spain squad lost 1-0 to Japan on Thursday. La Roja started strongly in the first 20 minutes, but never recovered from conceding a goal in the 34th minute and were hamstrung in their efforts to find an equalizer after center back Inigo Martinez was given a red card in the 40th minute.

Despite the defeat, coach Luis Milla is confident his team can regroup, and history is on his squad's side. The 2010 World Cup-winning squad dropped its opening group match before recovering to win the Jules Rimet trophy.

"I have tried to be positive in the dressing room, because we have two more opportunities," Milla said. "We have to improve things. We don't have much time to work on them and it will have to be a lot of work on the mental side, on concentration."

Martinez will miss this match due to his red card, with Ander Herrera possibly entering the starting lineup in his place. However, Spain's offense will need a better effort from Juan Mata and Rodrigo after it placed only three shots on goal.

"Our aim is to win both of them. We have to," Mata said. "We need to improve some things and we have to play better."

Honduras settled for a point after opening its group play with a 2-all draw versus Morocco on Thursday. Jerry Bengston's second goal of the match - a penalty kick in the 65th minute - gave Los Catrachos a short-lived lead as Morocco equalized two minutes later.

Additionally, Honduras failed to produce with a man advantage over the final 19 minutes following a red card to Morocco's Zakarya Bergdich. Still, coach Luis Fernando Suarez was content with the point.

"The result was fair, but with Spain and Japan, it's not easy to go deep in the group for all teams," he said.

Bengston, one of Honduras' three overage players who plays for the New England Revolution in the United States, was the only player to score two goals in the opening group of eight matches.

The senior squads for these countries met in group play during the 2010 World Cup, with Spain winning 2-0 on a pair of goals by David Villa. Mata appeared in that match as a substitute in the 70th minute, while Honduran defender Maynor Figueroa and midfielder Roger Espinoza were in their side's starting XI.

The teams will conclude group play Wednesday, with Spain playing Morocco at Old Trafford Stadium in Manchester, England, while Honduras will face Japan at the City of Coventry Stadium at the same time.

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