World Cup 2010 Predictions: Five Things Spain Need To Do To Get Out Of Group H
When the draw for the group stages of the 2010 Fifa World Cup in South Africa was made last December, Spain manager Vincente del Bosque would have been very content with the teams his side was drawn against.
On Wednesday 16th June, the Spanish - regarded by many as the favourites for this tournament - kick off their bid for World Cup glory against Switzerland.
This is followed by games against Chile and then Honduras - hardly the most taxing of tasks.
However, big guns have fallen at the first hurdle in World Cups before.
France travelled to South Korea and Japan 2002 as both European and World champions, and were expected to negotiate Group A - which included Senegal, Denmark and Uruguay - with ease.
A shock 1-0 defeat to Senegal was followed by a 0-0 draw with Uruguay. A 2-0 loss to Denmark sent the French packing, having failed to muster a single goal or point.
Here are five things Spain need to do to avoid a similar fate, in reverse order.
5. Get off to a winning start
As France proved eight years ago, a defeat in your first game can be almost fatal. A win against Switzerland would go a long way to calming any nerves in the camp and setting the team on their way to a knockout stage berth.
4. Make sure Xavi is on form
The Barcelona midfielder pulls the strings in the Spanish midfield, and if he is on his game then Switzerland, Chile and Honduras will not be able to deal with him.
He will create a plethora of chances that Ferando Torres and David Villa will feast upon. Provided of course they...
3. Keep Fernando Torres and David Villa fit
Is there a better strike partnership in international football?
The defenders from Spain's Group H opponents will be breaking out in cold sweats just thinking about marking these two superstars.
If either was to get injured it could provide a huge fillip to their group opponents.
2. Sort out the defence
Spain are blessed with a fantastic squad, and have a midfield and attack that is the envy of world football.
However, concerns remain about del Bosque's defence.
Sergio Ramos and Joan Capdevilla are cited by many as the team's weak link, and they could be targeted.
1. Avoid complacency
When you’re faced with the likes of Honduras, Chile and Switzerland, the greatest threat isn't likely to come from outside, but within.
del Bosque doesn't think this will prove to be a problem. In an interview with World Football he said: "The good thing is that I think we have a very down to earth, humble group of players who are able to resist the pressure and not allow themselves to be carried away.
"They have to have what I call a marathon approach to motivation – consistent, unwavering. A game against Macedonia has to be the same as one against, say, England"
But the players would be only human to let even a little bit of complacency seep through.
It can prove fatal to any side, no matter what the opposition.
France again can be seen as a case in point. Many of their players probably thought a place in the second round was a formality.
Once the tournament got under way they were given one almighty shock.
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