Chile, Spain control own fate
By Sports Network
Spanish striker Fernando Llorente controls the ball as he takes part in a World Cup training session in Potchefstroom. (AFP PHOTO/LLUIS GENE)
PRETORIA - Friday's Group H finale for both Chile and Spain has the potential to be an attractive affair with both teams possessing plenty of offensive flair.
But it also could represent the final game of the tournament for one of the two teams, which could force both to be a little more cautious.
Chile enters Friday's match at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on top of the group with six points from its first two games, while Spain is in the surprising position of needing a win over Chile to ensure itself of a place in the next round.
Following a stunning 1-0 defeat to Switzerland in its opening match, Spain rebounded by beating Honduras, 2-0, and defender Sergio Ramos is just happy that the Spanish have control of their own fate.
"What matters is that our fate's in our hands now," Ramos said. "The team has found the path to follow and the only thing we need to improve is our finishing. It's true that it would've been useful to have won by more goals, but we'll still go into the game against Chile high on confidence."
Spain striker David Villa scored both goals in the win over Honduras, but he also missed a penalty kick and Spain squandered a number of other good chances that would have given them a bigger cushion in goal difference.
Switzerland is also level on three points with Spain, which owns a slight edge in goal difference, but the Swiss expect to beat Honduras, which would put extra pressure on the European champions.
Chile was also guilty of being wasteful in its last match, a 1-0 win over 10- man Switzerland.
The Chileans snapped Switzerland's streak of 558 consecutive minutes without a allowing a goal in World Cup play, but their lack of proficiency in front of goal in the second half could also hurt them.
Chile currently owns a slight edge in goal difference over both Spain and Switzerland, but a Swiss win coupled with a Chile loss to Spain, could spell the end of the tournament for the South American side.
Chile will be missing midfielders Carlos Carmona and Matias Fernandez because of yellow card accumulation, but goalkeeper Claudio Bravo has kept a clean sheet in both of Chile's wins, and if he does so again on Friday, Chile will be guaranteed a spot in the next round.