This is a must win game for tournament favourites and European Champions Spain. No one could have predicted that Spain would lose to Switzerland 1-0 in their World Cup opener leaving them not top of Group H but sharing space at the bottom with Honduras making today’s game crucial to their World Cup campaign.
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Spain have top-class players and they did very little wrong in their match against Switzerland except that they couldn’t score and conceded a cheap goal to Switzerland due to a miscommunication between the defenders and Iker Casillas in goal. La Roja would have sorted that out and will be raring to go against the Honduras. Vincente Del Bosque’s team knows that this is a must win game for them and they will put their shocking defeat behind them. Also, unlike Switzerland, Honduras cannot afford to draw this match either and therefore cannot sit back and just defend. They will have to go forward and attack which will leave space to the Spanish and everyone know what happens when you give the Spanish team space to play their game… they score plenty of goals. Vincete Del Bosque will probably go with a 4-4-2 formation, with both strikers David Villa and Fernando Torres starting for Spain. This means Sergio Busquets is most likely to be dropped. Another change could be the incorporation of Jesus Navas on the right wing rather than David Silva in attacking midfield. Cesc Fabregas might once again find himself on the bench, awaiting to make his World Cup 2010 debut. Sergio Ramos, Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique and Joan Capdevila will retain their positions at the back. Andres Iniesta who suffered an injury during the Switzerland match is still not a 100% fit and will most likely not start for Spain.
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Honduras are the weakest link in Group H. They lost only by a goal to Chile and are level on points with Spain as they go into this match. Theoretically they have as much of a chance as Spain to qualify for the knock-stages of the tournament. In reality, Chile’s 1-0 scoreline over them does not tell the entire story of a match where Honduras did not create any chances and in fact they managed only one touch inside the Chilean opposition penalty area over the entire duration of the game. Secondly, Chile have very limited resources and are struggling with injuries, it would be impossible for them to beat a top-class team like Spain. However, one can never underestimate confidence and belief in football and the Spainiards loss to Switzerland must have boosted the Hondurans in to believing that anything was possible. Reinaldo Rueda’s team are without striker David Suazo and midfielder Julio Cesar Leon who suffered an injury before the Chile match and is still recovering. He will be replaced by Jerry Palacios, who has set of a record of sorts by playing in the same World Cup with two of his brothers Johnny and Wilson. Spain are one of the scariest of all attack minded teams and the Honduran defense lead goalkeeper Noel Valladares will have to remain very focusedor else risk finding out just why their opponents are nicknamed La Furia Roja.
“They are going to play football, it will not be easy to beat Honduras. We will play our game, take the initiative.” -Vincente Del Bosque, Spain manager
“We know we can give more. We have the strength to withstand the demands of Spain.” – Reinaldo Rueda, Honduras manager
Stars to Watch Out For
Spain: David Villa, Fernando Torres, Xavi Hernandez
Honduras: Noel Valladares, Jerry Palacios
Honduras are winless in their last six matches, failing to score in five of them.
Spain had won 45 games out of 48 prior to their opening group defeat by Switzerland.
Honduras have only ever beaten two European nations – Slovenia and Latvia – in 14 attempts.
Spain’s only loss in 14 matches against a north and central American nation came a year ago at the hands of the USA in Bloemfontein.