Spain vs. Chile: Tactical Preview of World Cup Group B Match

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterJune 18, 2014

CURITIBA, BRAZIL - JUNE 15:  Cesc Fabregas of Spain faces the media during a Spain press conference at Centro de Entrenamiento do Caju on June 15, 2014 in Curitiba, Brazil.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images

The first round of group-stage matches is in the books at the FIFA World Cup 2014 and now we turn our attention to the second lot.

Spain endured the worst loss of the tournament in the opening round, sinking 5-1 to the Netherlands and rooting themselves firmly to the bottom of Group B. Chile, sitting second after a win over Australia, will be just as a tough a test.



Spain looked a side torn between styles against the Netherlands, and the fact they fell to the 3-5-2 formation—again—sheds new doubt on their perceived infallibility.

Possible Spain XI. Xavi/Koke, Pedro/Silva.
Possible Spain XI. Xavi/Koke, Pedro/Silva.@stighefootball

They're still tiki-taka at heart but they're conscious of the need to change, with Diego Costa being shoe-horned into the lineup and being asked to pick it up from the word go.

You won't find a more anti-tiki-taka team than Atletico Madrid, so it's somewhat ironic that los Colchoneros' star striker has been plugged into Vicente Del Bosque's system to improve the situation.


In any event, their first half against Netherlands was excellent. David Silva was brilliant between the lines, Costa ran the channels superbly and Andres Iniesta was his usual remarkable self.

More of that and Chile have a problem.



Chile looked like they were about to slaughter Australia in their opener, but after scoring two goals in quick succession, they cooled off alarmingly.

In the end, Jean Beausejour was needed to net in the dying minutes to prevent a stoic Aussie comeback, and Jorge Sampaoli will be keen to increase the intensity of the middle portion of his side's performances.

Probable Chile XI. Vidal/Gutierrez.
Probable Chile XI. Vidal/Gutierrez.@stighefootball

Alexis Sanchez impressed as a goalscoring outlet and Jorge Valdivia, while blowing a little hot and cold, did enough to warrant his selection as a false No. 10 in his manager's complex, odd system.

Chile will press high, disrupt and look to pass their way out of trouble in the same fashion Spain do. If they succeed in their goals, they could end up putting la Furia Roja to the sword at their own game.


2 Tactical Clashes

1. Go Vertical, or Go Cesc?

It would be a big mistake for Del Bosque to switch forwards, as while Costa didn't pull up any trees in his audition against the Netherlands, his verticality is important to this side.

He and his midfielders didn't quite click—a product of the converted Brazilian possessing only three caps—but his ability to run the channels, run in behind and stretch the pitch is important.


He had Ron Vlaar and Co. back-pedaling for 30 minutes and won a penalty to open the scoring; that threat against converted centre-back Gary Medel and Marcos Gonzalez/Gonzalo Jara is too tantalising to ignore.


2. How Many Forwards?

True to form, Sampaoli is looking to knock the reigning champions out of the competition by beating them on Wednesday evening.

"If we play well tomorrow, win and kick them out of the World Cup it will be very positive for us," he told reporters, per He means it, too, and the question becomes just how aggressive he will be in trying to achieve that victory.

The world watched Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique flounder, fluster and fall over themselves against two true forwards last week, and that will have the cogs in Samp's brain ticking over intensely.

Dare he match Vargas and Alexis up against them one vs. one, belying his trend of playing a single striker—if you can even call it that!—and sacrificing a body in midfield?


Bleacher Report will do a tactical preview and review of every single 2014 FIFA World Cup game. Stay tuned to this link and check it every day for more.