Spain looking to bounce back at World Cup

Vicente Del Bosque, Spain's coach, gestures to his team during the 1-0 loss to Switzerland. Next up for Spain is Honduras.
Vicente Del Bosque, Spain's coach, gestures to his team during the 1-0 loss to Switzerland. Next up for Spain is Honduras.
Posted: June 21, 2010

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - It's beautiful, Spain's game.

But through 90 minutes at this World Cup, that beautiful passing has earned them zero goals, zero points, a lot of criticism, and twice as much pressure entering Monday's match against Honduras at Johannesburg's Ellis Park.

A week ago, a Switzerland team labeled "smart" and "gritty," stunned the fluid Spanish attack and buried the Red at the bottom of Group H.

It was Switzerland's first-ever victory over Spain.

Not only is Spain worried about advancing out of group play, but also it must concern itself with earning the group's top placement, therefore dodging a second-round matchup with powerhouse Brazil.

It's possible that Spain, a pre-tournament favorite, with more famous faces than can be seen at a Los Angeles Lakers game, could make a change or two in its starting lineup. Coach Vicente del Bosque left two stars out of the starting lineup for the opening match: striker Fernando Torres and midfielder Cesc Fabregas.

Spain's issue of too much talent - internationals buried at each position - is an enviable position, but one that del Bosque will be charged with solving.

Torres, 26, the author of the autobiography El Nino: My Story, is two weeks removed from knee surgery. He came on in the 61st minute of Spain's 1-0 loss to Switzerland.

Having proved he's fit, it's possible Torres (who plays for Liverpool in England's Premier League) will be paired with striker David Villa against Honduras.

"I've been training for more than two weeks with my teammates and little by little, I've forgotten about the injury," Torres told the media Saturday. "It's up to the coach; he decides."

Torres said his team would continue playing its methodical passing style, regardless of the poor result.

"We had chances," Torres said. "We didn't score a goal and that was the key. Let's hope it doesn't happen again since that would be odd. The most important thing is not to allow anxiety to overwhelm us if minutes pass and we are not able to score."

Against Switzerland, del Bosque kept the 23-year-old Fabregas, regarded as one of the game's best playmakers, behind midfielders Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, and Xabi Alonso.

"I will not say I'm angry or I don't care about not playing," Fabregas told Sky Sports. "It's normal that I want to play more, right? Football is my life, and I have been fighting all season to be here and help the team with my best."

Three times, del Bosque went to his bench against Switzerland, but never did he call for Fabregas, the captain of Premier League power Arsenal, who has recently been the center of rumors indicating he might be sold to FC Barcelona before the club season.

"I do not play as much as I want, but it's normal that the coach chooses the others," Fabregas said.

On Monday, Spain desperately needs the right lineup - or it will become the tournament's biggest star-studded bust.


Contact staff writer Kate Fagan at 856-779-3844 or kfagan@phillynews.com.

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