Chile and Switzerland take different approach to same goal

Sunday, June 20, 2010

PORT ELIZABETH - As the surprise leaders of Group H ahead of Spain, Chile and Switzerland share the same goal in their Monday clash in World Cup football. But the two teams are likely to take sharply different approaches to their bid to make it to the Round of 16.

Switzerland adopted an uncompromising defensive posture to earn the shock result of the tournament in beating Spain 1-0 last week.

With their renowned German coach Ottmar Hitzfeld pronouncing Chile as the confirmed favourites for Monday’s game, it’s a sure thing that the Swiss players will once again protect their goal with an alpine- like barrier and hope once again to hit their opponents with a devastating counter-attack or two.

Chile, on the other hand, will display the strong running, swift movement and sublime individual skills that enabled them to dominate Honduras. They will also hope for more clinical finishing in front of goal than they displayed against their central American opponents in which the 1-0 scoreline could easily have been four or five to nil.

A win for either team will guarantee their place in the last round. But a tie will do more for the Swiss than the Chileans. That’s because Switzerland will face Honduras in the last game of the first round, a far easier prospect than Chile’s clash with pre-tournament favourites Spain, who will also desperately need a win.

“Chile want to qualify before they face Spain in their last group stage game,” said Swiss defender Stephan Lichsteiner. “The team is very strong, the players are so skillful, we must work very hard to stand up to them.”

“Switzerland are not favourites, it will be Chile,” added Hitzfeld, 61, who won the Champions League with Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich.

“Against Honduras, the Chileans were unbelievable and they could have 3-0 or 4-0 instead of 1-0. They are a solid unit, with very fast players. In terms of strategy, we will have to be even more compact than we were against Spain.”

If anything, Chile are expected to be even more potent than they were against Honduras as Humberto Suazo, their leading scorer in qualifying, is expected to return to the side after a thigh injury.

Chile will probably need all the firepower it can muster to break down a defence that Hitzfeld has moulded into one of the world’s most formidable.

The team has now gone five games in this World Cup and the last without conceding a goal, though its line-up will be missing central defensive anchor Phillipe Senderos who sprained an ankle against Spain. Switzerland’s captain Alex Frei and midfielder Valon Behrami are also doubtful to start.

But don’t expect Chile to take too many risks in the search for victory.

“Switzerland have created the biggest upset of the tournament so far and are a good team,” defender Ismael Fuentes said. “Spain made one mistake against them and paid for it so we have to concentrate for the whole 90 minutes.”

In the end, though, Chile keeper Luis Marin is confident his side’s forwards will come out on top thanks to the attack minded philosophy instilled by “El Profesor” Bielsa.

“We have a lot of faith in our forwards who can score from any situation,” he said.

“We’re just like Playstation players now, our movement is totally programmed into us,” said attacking midfielder Jorge Valdivia. “We’ve been playing together for so long now and we’ve spent so much time training that we know exactly what to do and where each other is going to be.”

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