World Cup Group H preview: Chile v Switzerland

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World Cup Group H preview: Chile v Switzerland

Chile take on Switzerland for the chance to establish themselves at the top of Group H and take maximum points.

Both teams are on six points and both are looking to book their place in the last 16 today. Let’s be honest, no-one would have thought that in a group with World Cup favourites Spain, netiher of these would be able to sit on top of the group, but that is what could happen today.

Switzerland upset the form guide when they beat Spain 1-0 in their opening match, while Chile came through comfortably against Honduras 1-0.

Spain were unable to break the Swiss barrier down, although Xabi Alonso crashed a shot against the bar and Gerard Piqué missed a chance after being one-on-one with ‘keeper Diego Benaglio. Switzerland’s goal came courtesy of Gelson Fernandes after some comical Spanish defending. Manager Ottmar Hitzfeld drilled his team well to cope with the constant waves of Spanish attacks, but the experienced German wants to keep his players’ minds focused on today’s game. “We have got a team which has a very strong character,” said the 61-year-old.

“There are some young ones as well, but I think all the players realised just how sensational the win was, and they also know we cannot take it for granted that we will just simply blow away Chile.”

Hitzfeld said in his pre-match press conference before the Spain game that “little” Switzerland could cause a major upset. Now, they have the chance to qualify for the last 16 thanks to the shock win.

“Against Chile, we have got different aspirations because they are a direct competitor to us in securing second position. But now we have the opportunity to take first position, and we have to seize that chance with both hands,” said Hitzfeld.

Chile defeated Honduras in their opening game, with striker Jean Beausejour scoring the only goal. Manager Marcelo Bielsa sees today’s game as a completely different encounter. “The Swiss had perfect command of the ball against Spain, who had problems attacking as spaces were being reduced. They had two defensive lines close to each other, but of course the match may not be a replica, we'll have to see,” said Bielsa.

Defender Ismael Fuentes wants Chile to get another three points and secure their place in the last 16. “We know that our chances of reaching the next round hinge to a large extent on this game. Switzerland caught Spain by surprise and that's kind of turned the group on its head. As far as we're concerned it would have been better the other way round but that’s the way it is,” said Fuentes.

The 28-year-old is wary of the way the Swiss played against Spain, and sees the game as a tight affair. “They are a very physical team and it's sure to be a testing game. We've been looking at their tactics too and we know how to stop them. There's not much difference between the sides to be honest. Anyone can win the group from this position, even Honduras. That's why it's so important to win and pick up as many points as possible,” Fuentes added.

With Spain playing later on this evening, a win for either nation today will see them take top spot and a huge step towards the next phase of the World Cup.




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