Spain must bounce back against Honduras
Johannesburg, July 20 (DPA) When the World Cup draw was made in Cape Town last December, most Spanish fans had their side’s second Group H game against Honduras chalked down as the match where La Roja would book their place in the knockout stages.
After going down 0-1 to Ottmar Hitzfeld’s Switzerland in their opening game, Spain, the European Champions find themselves in the uncomfortable position of needing a victory against Honduras at Ellis Park Monday to get their World Cup campaign back on track.
With Chile also winning their opener against the Central Americans, Spain boss Vicente del Bosque is aware that even a win could leave his team looking at finishing second in the group and facing a potential round of 16 clash against Brazil.
But the idea of taking anything for granted, including a win against the world’s 38th ranked team Honduras, has been firmly banished from the Spanish squad in the wake of Switzerland’s first ever victory against the Iberians.
Instead it is back to basics for Spain, starting with a limited Honduras side that, on paper at least, should pose no problems for the pre-tournament favourites.
At least del Bosque can count on a fully fit Fernando Torres in Johannesburg. The Liverpool striker came off the bench midway during the second half against the Swiss and is now ready to play a full 90 minutes after showing he has recovered from his knee surgery.
“We are all ready to take to the pitch and give everything,” said Torres, who promised that Spain wouldn’t panic and abandon their methodical passing style of play as they had already overcome more difficult situations in the past.
Offensive midfielder David Silva is likely to be the one to lose out if Torres starts alongside David Villa up front but the 26-year-old striker said at a press conference Saturday in Potchefstroom that the team’s style, if not the system, would remain the same.
“It doesn’t matter if we play 4-3-3, 4-4-2 or something else, we’ll stick to our style of play. We always want the ball and, if possible, to hem the opponent in their own half,” he said.
“We can’t get nervous if we don’t score an early goal,” Torres added.
Defeat would see outsiders Honduras eliminated if Switzerland and Chile draw their Monday encounter in Port Elizabeth.
Despite losing playmaker Julio Cesar de Leon to injury before the tournament even started, coach Reinaldo Rueda remained upbeat, saying Switzerland’s heroics had give Honduras hope of making it to the next round.
The Colombian is likely to start with David Suazo on his own up front after the Genoa forward recovered from injury and could make several changes from the side that lost 1-0 to Chile in their opening match after complaining that certain players were unable to put in the necessary performances.
Rueda’s one major concern is that he believes Spain will be even more focused on putting on a show after their poor start.
“As one of the favourites and after losing their first game, Spain will be even more determined,” he said.
“We cannot think it will be an easy game. For me, the opposite is the case. It will be more difficult.”