Fabregas primed to start as Spain look to ring the changes

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The Independent Online

Left with no margin for error, Spain are trying to work out who to play against Honduras following their opening World Cup defeat, in which Fernando Torres and Cesc Fabregas failed to make the starting lineup.

Switzerland's 1-0 victory on Wednesday means the European champions cannot lose Monday's Group H match at Ellis Park if they want to advance to the second round.

Xabi Alonso reiterated that Spain will stick to their possession-based game, but added that coach Vicente del Bosque was considering making changes to the starting lineup.

"Nothing's decided yet. Logically, the coach is analysing (the game)," Alonso said from the team's base in Potchefstroom. "It's hard to evaluate, especially since the system worked well in the warmup games coming in. The coach makes the decisions and whatever he decides, the players back him 100 per cent."

Del Bosque was criticised by the former coach Luis Aragones, who led Spain to the 2008 European Championship title, for picking two holding midfielders and only David Villa as striker. That left Torres and Fabregas – rated as two of the world's best players – out of the lineup.

"With the last coach, I was player No 12 and he showed that with his decisions. This coach has opted for other players at times," Fabregas, an unused substitute against the Swiss, told Marca. "I'm not getting the minutes I would like, but it's not affecting my work habits."

With Del Bosque promising to make changes, Gerard Pique said Fabregas could provide what the Spanish were lacking. "A lot of touch, the ability to get into the area and goals," Pique said. "If the coach opts for him, he'll help us very much."

Torres came on for the last half hour at Durban's Moses Mabhida Stadium to show his right knee was completely recovered after surgery.

"Fernando brings so much potency with his speed, how he finishes off in front of goal and the calmness he brings us up front," Alonso said. "I think his knee problems are in the past."

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