The clash between Spain and Chile at the iconic Maracana stadium is an example of two teams at opposite ends of the spectrum. The former are smarting from a 5-1 demolishing at the hands of Netherlands, while the latter will be brimming with confidence after their dominating victory against Australia in the opening fixture.
If Spain loses, the World Champions could be eliminated depending on the other group result today.
Spanish coach Vicente del Bosque revealed that he would bring in the changes, staying true to his tiki-taka style of play. Although del Bosque has never lost back-to-back games since taking over the team, he will be wary of a similar threat offered by the electric and counter-attacking Chile side; after all, ‘once bitten, twice shy.’
Despite letting in five goals, del Bosque is likely to stick to the ever-dependable Iker Casillas, his level head will be key in this must-win clash already being dubbed ‘a final.’ However, he may opt to sacrifice the stability of Juanfran for the attacking threat of Azpilcueta in defence, while axing the visibly lethargic Pique in favour of Javi Martinez.
Sacrifices will continue in midfield as a 4-3-3 system seems on the cards, with Alonso and Busquets providing cover for the back four – lest history repeat itself twice in a week. In place of David Silva, del Bosque may opt to introduce Pedro into the fray, hoping to reap the benefits of his creative pressure and pace.
Diego Costa looked displaced in the Spanish team, thus limiting his contribution. His ineffective display is likely to see him dropped in favor of the highly experienced and lethal striker, David Villa, if they are to maintain their commendable record of eight wins and two draws against the Chilean side.
For Chile, Sampoli is likely to stick to the same side that brushed past Australia in a game that threatened to turn into a rout after his side’s two goals scored in the first 10 minutes. Yet again, Chile will be relying on Barcelona’s Alexis Sanchez – who turned up the style, scoring one and assisting another – to provide the wind that would propel the side to another three points.
Also under the radar is Juventus star, Arturo Vidal. Despite looking a tad rusty on his return from a knee injury, having lasted over an hour in the first game, Sampoli hopes he will be more assertive and influential in the coming games.
What Chile must work on if they are to gain an invaluable three points, is their suspect defending of crosses and set pieces. With the likes of Villa and Martinez willing to pounce on the most minute of errors, Sampoli may introduce Francisco Silva at centre-back, although may opt not to tinker a winning formula.
Predicted line-ups for the 3pm ET/Noon ET game today: