Switzerland takes on mighty Spain

Throughout their World Cup preparations, Spain's coach Vicente del Bosque insisted that overconfidence is his men’s worst enemy.

Throughout their World Cup preparations, Spain's coach Vicente del Bosque insisted that overconfidence is his men’s worst enemy.  

Tournament favourites Spain are not scared of the pressure ahead of their World Cup opener against Switzerland, in which they are expected to impress and, of course, win.

“People demand that we win and that we play well because they see that we can play well. And that’s good. It’s not pressure, it’s flattering,” striker David Villa said.

The Swiss, in turn, know that they could easily lose against a side that is better on paper and, which has won all 10 of its World Cup qualifiers. But they will seek to cause a major upset nonetheless.

“We hope to play a great match. The Spaniards move well with the ball and they run a lot. We will have to defend with many men and immediately go out to counter-attack. That way we can hurt them,” Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld said.

Spain are the clear favourites to top Group H, in which Honduras are regarded as the minnows with Switzerland and Chile are fighting for a crucial second place that would take them to the next round.

Throughout their World Cup preparations, the coach of the Euro 2008 champions, Vicente del Bosque, insisted that overconfidence is his men’s worst enemy.

And yet players, fans and impartial observers alike note that Spain have, at least in theory, the tools that could lead them to the first World Cup title in their history.

“We’re all very excited, and it is with that excitement and that strength that we are going to go out and play our opener. We are focused and prepared, ready and with a positive mentality,” midfielder Xabi Alonso said.

“With the playing style we have, it’s easier to achieve success and win,” Villa said.

On Wednesday, Del Bosque is set to be able to field his first-choice team, with Fernando Torres and Andres Iniesta back from injury.

But this being the World Cup, Spain will need to focus to avoid the disappointments that have characterised the team’s history in the prestigious tournament, where their best result was fourth place back in 1950.

“If we do not play at our level, we can be beaten by Switzerland or anyone else,” Villa warned.

The Swiss will face Spain without their captain, striker Alexander Frei, and without midfielder Valon Behrami, who are both injured. But they are not giving up.

As they seek to at least reach the second round in South Africa — as they did four years earlier in Germany — the Swiss will try to be as solid as possible in Durban’s Moses Mabhida stadium and beyond.

“We know this will be a difficult group, but we have the team to face it,” Hitzfeld stressed.

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Printable version | Apr 4, 2020 2:35:20 AM |

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