How a successful team responds to a crushing defeat is regularly viewed as a measure of its true long-term pedigree. That’s the challenge that faces this Spanish team as it gears up to play Chile in its second World Cup game.
Admittedly, the Spanish have little to prove, having won three back-to-back major tournaments, but the manner in which they were blown away by the Dutch in that 5-1 mauling of an opening match means they are in desperate need of a strong performance. If they harbour any realistic hopes of retaining their World Cup crown, it simply has to come against the Chileans.
To ensure you don’t miss any of the action in this vital Group B contest, here’s all the details you need on where to catch the game on the box and via an online stream. Let’s also take a glance down the line to see how this result could effect the tournament chances of both sides.
Date: 18 June
Time: 8 p.m. (BST), 3 p.m. (ET)
TV Info: BBC (UK), ESPN (US)
It’s not often that you see a truly great side humbled in a manner comparable to Spain’s destruction by the Dutch. It looked likely to be business as usual for the Spanish as they raced into a 1-0 lead; it should have been 2-0 before half-time, but David Silva squandered a simple chance.
But their wonderful intricacy and supreme technical ability counted for nothing in the second half, as Louis van Gaal’s Dutch team blitzed the Spanish with purposeful, powerful counter-attacking football.
There was naturally a massive reaction following such a staggering result, but it’d be a little naive to write the Spanish off completely. They lost their opening game 1-0 against Switzerland four years ago, after all—although not in quite as spectacular circumstances—so they have proven they have a patent for reacting well to adversity.
Whether the hunger is still there—especially as the nexus of this squad has won three major international tournaments—is certainly questionable. It’s something that Bet365’s Daniel Storey touched upon in the aftermath of the 5-1 defeat:
And if they’re not careful, there’s a danger that their clash against Chile could potentially go the same way. Jorge Sampaoli’s team showcased plenty of positive intent during its 3-1 win over Australia, racing into an early lead with some scintillating attacking play before fighting off a second-half fight back from the Socceroos.
Sampaoli’s side is likely to implement a system similar to the one that caused plenty of problems for the Spanish in their first game, and it too will play with spades of energy and endeavour. With the Spanish unlikely to deviate from their possession-based principles, Chile could also have joy on the counter-attack, especially if Alexis Sanchez can perform at his best.
The Barcelona forward is coming into this World Cup on the back of a strong domestic campaign, and he got his tournament up and running with a goal in the opener. If he can isolate the Spanish defenders in a manner comparable to Arjen Robben, he too could have plenty of joy with his scintillating forays forward.
Former England international and BBC pundit Rio Ferdinand thinks the Chileans can cause problems for the holders after watching their opening game:
It’s extremely difficult to split these two sides. Both have the players who can cause each other an equal share of problems, so expect goals and perhaps a pretty high-scoring draw. A point each would put Spain in third, three points behind second-placed Chile in the group and, with the Dutch likely to triumph over Australia, five points off the top.
With that in mind, it’d become increasingly unlikely for the Spanish to retain their title, for they’d be relying on other results to progress to the knockout phase. Even if they were to qualify, a meeting with Brazil looks likely in the second round.
If Chile can somehow conjure up a victory from this contest and the Dutch beat Australia, the Chileans’ passage to the last 16 would be secured. That’s a major incentive for the South Americans, and if they execute an astute game plan, it’s a feat that is certainly not beyond this exceptionally talented group of players.