Spain wary of Chile threat

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The Independent Football

Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque was keen to stress the threat Chile pose to his side's hopes of reaching the last 16 of the World Cup, claiming Marcelo Bielsa's in-form outfit can cause problems for any team.

Del Bosque also warned against reading too much into the result of their last meeting with Chile, when the European champions recorded a 3-0 friendly victory in Villarreal 18 months ago.

"That result does not reflect what happened in the game, because the Chilean side are very good, as they have shown in the first phase here," said Del Bosque, ahead of what could be a decisive encounter between the two at Pretoria's Loftus Versfeld stadium.

Chile currently lead Group H with a maximum six points from their two games, with Spain and Switzerland locked on three points and Honduras still looking for their first points but not yet out of contention either.

"It's going to be an even game, very open and difficult for both teams. They are two different styles of play, but both good," added the Spain boss.

"They are a difficult team for anyone to face because they have two weapons which are putting pressure on you and hitting you on the counter-attack.

"They try to overcome their opponents by stealing possession and hitting them quickly on the break."

Del Bosque also thinks the South Americans have enough strength in depth to be able to cope with the loss of key duo Carlos Carmona and Mati Fernandez, who are both suspended.

"They are two excellent players that they are missing. Carmona has done a great job, and Matias as well. But having said that, they have other players who can fit in just as well. They will not notice the absentees," the former Real Madrid coach said.

While Chile have continued their superb form of the last 12 months, which including their recent victories over Honduras and Switzerland has now seen them win 13 of their last 17 fixtures, losing just twice, Spain have not been in top form in South Africa.

The European champions started the tournament on the back of a phenomenal run that had brought them 45 wins - including two after extra time - in 48 matches, with just one defeat.

However, they crashed to only a second loss since 2006 when they were defeated by Switzerland in their opening game.

The Spanish hit back with a one-sided 2-0 win over Honduras in their next game though, and Del Bosque insists his side are in fine shape ahead of today's crucial encounter.

"We're fine, aside from the result against Switzerland, we've done well in both games and we should've had more points. Now we have to try and get through to the last 16.

"We would like to be better, but we know we have a great chance to go forward. We want to continue in this World Cup and we are ready. We'll see if we deserve to get through."

Chile only need a draw to progress out of the group stages of a World Cup for just the third time in their history.

However, Bielsa, who has also led Chile to their first World Cup victories since 1962, insists they will be going out for the win.

"I think that it's more difficult to go out looking for the draw than to try to win," said the Argentinian, who also played down suggestions he was a 'superhero' in Chile for the success he has had.

"I'm not a superhero, I've worked hard, taken part in a football project and got to the World Cup. Now we're trying to get through to the last 16."