Spain should avoid complacency of easy draw

Spain should avoid complacency of easy draw

Published Jun. 8, 2010 10:05 a.m. ET

Striving to add a first World Cup trophy to its European title, Spain should have plenty of talent to ensure advancement from a World Cup group that includes Switzerland, Honduras and Chile.

However, Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque, who took over from Luis Aragones after the 2008 European Championship win, will need to make sure no complacency creeps into the minds of his players during their three Group H matches in South Africa.

Spain, which plays its first game against the Swiss in Durban on June 16, has quality players in goalkeepers Iker Casillas and Pepe Reina, defenders Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique, midfielders Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta, and strikers Fernando Torres and David Villa.

Del Bosque's biggest problem is whether to rest some of his players after they have played their first game against the Swiss and keep them fresh for the final group match against Chile at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.


In between comes a game against Honduras at Ellis Park in Johannesburg, which means Del Bosque's players start their campaign on the coast at sea level and then play two group games at altitude on the Highveld in central South Africa.

The biggest threat to Spain in the group appears to be Chile, which finished second to Brazil in South American qualifying.

The team's Argentine coach, Marcelo Bielsa, has assembled a well-organized team with the ability to get forward as quickly as possible and supply chances for strikers Humberto Suazo, Alexis Sanchez and Matias Fernandez.

Chile starts its campaign against Honduras at the northern venue of Nelspruit, at the southern tip of the Kruger National Park, and then goes to the southeast coastal venue in Port Elizabeth to face the Swiss.

Four years ago, Switzerland went home after the second round despite not conceding a goal or losing a game. The team won its group and then lost a penalty shootout to Ukraine after a 0-0 draw.

Coached by Ottmar Hitzfeld, the three-time quarterfinalist Swiss won their qualifying group and are at their ninth World Cup. They have an experienced captain and striker in Alex Frei, one of many home-based players after Hitzfeld, a successful club coach in Germany with Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich, persuaded them to take more influential roles with Swiss teams.

Honduras is back at the World Cup after 28 years, when the team drew 1-1 with host nation Spain but went out of the competition in the first round despite conceding only three goals in three games.

This time it has a tough draw, facing Chile and Spain in its first two games.