UPDATE, 4:21 p.m.: Spain 2-1 Chile. It was a truce in the end, without the best play from either side in the first half, though Spain still managed to produce when they needed to. Switzerland could just not score–some poetic justice, perhaps, because the boring, defensive teams tend to advance. When you can’t score goals, you can’t win a game. Spain played an effective, and still entertaining game, though we’ll really need to improve and play the game that we know we can play–passing, possession, and scoring. We need Torres, Iniesta and company to be on top of their game as well if we’re going to keep scoring–one of the big things we need to improve on is our accuracy, our potency in front of goal. We play our peninsular rivals this weekend–A POR ELLOS!
Man of the Match: Vicente del Bosque. He deserves this “honor” because he has managed to overcome all of the back-talk and the mutiny from members of the Spanish federation, and especially (the asshole) Luís Aragones, who has been criticizing him all tourney. There was no one Spanish player who stood out particularly, so we can say congrats to the team and the coach. Let’s keep this thing going in the next round.
2:05 p.m.: BIENVENIDOS! Another edition of the Blargus World Cup LiveBlog, this time it’s Spain vs. Chile, arguably the most intriguing match of Group H; I’ll be providing you with updates on Switzerland vs. Honduras as well, as that match is extremely important for the way that this group turns out. THe outcome of all of this? A place in the round of 16, and a date with either Brazil or Portugal; the prize that Spain and Chile are fighting for? Avoiding Brazil in the first round–which is why the Chilean coach Bielsa has announced that his side will come out looking for the win. Should be a good, well-played match, although Chile would go through with a tie. Spain, on the other hand must come out gunning for the win, because that’s the only way that we can guarantee that we’ll go through.
The other scenarios for Spain: if we tie and Switzerland ties, we go through; if we lose and Switzerland loses and Honduras only scores three or fewer goals, then we go through.
But the pressure is on la roja to win today–and if they do, then they’ll have regained the confidence that they lost in the first loss to Switzerland.
A POR ELLOS!
2:15 p.m.: Pre-Match Chatter: Well, we have our backs against the wall right now, and even though we beat Honduras 2-0 in our last match, we didn’t inspire that much confidence. Fernando Torres missed a few too many shots; while we looked strong on defense, we weren’t really tested; and even though David Villa scored two goals, he still missed a penalty. We’ll have to improve in front of goal if we’re going to win; and we’ll have to tighten up our defense if we’re going to be able to keep Chile off the board.
Roberto Martinez argues that Spain’s going to need to let Iniesta have the freedom to attack and to create; he also is stressing that the Spanish defense is going to be tested more than either of the other two games. They’re also talking about Marcelo Bielsa, and how he was fighting really hard on the sideline as the Chileans could only score once against the Swiss.
Iker Casillas needs to be at his top form for Spain today–and I’m confident that he will be: he is still (arguably, I guess, because ESPN keeps sating that Júlio Cesar is the best keeper in the world) the number one goalie in the entire world, and look for him to show why. On the other side, Chile’s GK Bravo has been relatively shaky–will this be a storyline after the match? Chile’s offensive style has won them the hearts of many casual fans–but will this style be the best way to go against a Spanish team that is so good on offense?
Finally, it’s very probably that this group be decided on goal differential, so the big storylines right now should center on how many goals Switzerland can score against Honduras (or how many Honduras can score against Switzerland), and how many goals Spain and Chile score.
2:22 p.m.: Starting Lineups
Spain: Casillas; Pique, Puyol, Capdevila, Ramos; Iniesta, Alonso, Xavi, Fabregas; Villa, Torre.
Chile: Bravo; Ponce, Isla, Medel, Jara; Valdivia, Vidal, Estrada; Beausejour, Gonzalez, Sanchez.
2:26 p.m.: LA MARCHA REAL! A POR ELLOS!!
1′) HERE WE GO! Spain is in our dark blue away jersey. I like it.
1′) Torres first touch leaves a bit to be desired.
2′) Chile looks strong. Lots of possession for the Chileans in the opening two minutes–Casillas comes out with a good move to cut out the pass. Good intervention from the Madrid captain.
3′) TORRES! Ugh. Couldn’t keep the header down–but a good chance for Nando.
4′) AHHHHH! TORRES! Long ball from the back skids all the way through to Torres, but the defender gets in front of him. Corner to Spain.
5′) Continuation of a theme? Spain can’t put the ball on goal when they need to. Free kick in the middle to Spain. The referee tonight is Mexican, a very highly regarded official, though he has a bit of a refutation of polemics.
6′) The ball is moving really quickly on the pitch, which looks very fast tonight.
7′) Good first touch from Nando, but he loses the ball out of bounds. Del Bosque is up yelling; Claudio Bravo is getting a talking to for time-wasting.
8′) Free kick to Chile, Iker is setting up the wall.
9′) Dangerous-looking counter from Spain, but Xavi wastes it.
10′) UUUUYYY!! CHILE! Terrible from the Spanish defense, lucky the Marc Gonzalez skied the shot in front of goal. Yikes.
11′) Spain looking mediocre in the back right now–good save from Iker on a shot by Estrada; Chile’s winning the possession battle right now, which is not a good sign for Spain.
12′) Chile’s running down all of the Spanish defenders, not giving Spain any space; to be fair, Spain looks very out of rhythm–our normally beautiful “tiqui taca” passing is seemingly missing.
13′) BIG DIVE FROM VALDIVIA, sets up a free kick to Chile–leads to a corner. Spain looks nervous.
14′) Nedel gets a yellow card for taking out Busquets.
15′) Xabi Alonso starts a scary-looking break, but passes the ball right to a defender–better from Spain, but we still look nervous…
17′) Good pass from Valdivia, gets the ball wide, but it comes to nothing. Chile is “full of confidence” according to Efan Ekoku, playing with three in the back. It’s still Switzerland 0-0 Honduras.
18′) Idiotic messed up throw-in from Capdevila; Yellow Card for Ponce, who kicked Nando from the ground. Wasn’t Beckham sent off for that?
19′) Good defense from Sergio Ramos! Cut out a dangerous play from Chile. The pitch in Pretoria looks weird–very fast, very wet; and Spain passes the ball right out of bound.
20′) Another card against Chile. Estrada took Busquets OUT.
21′) Spain is passing like shit right now–balls are flying out all over the pitch, not finding anyone’s foot.
22′) Yikes. Another dive against Spain, though Ramos did block the player off. Free kick to Chile. Good defense from Spain.
23′) GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!! GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAALLLLL GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLL!! DAVID VILLAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!! BRAVO COMES OUT TO BLOCK TORRES’ BREAK, VILLA GETS THE REBOUND AND SENDS IT IN FROM 50 METERS! INCREDIBLE SHOT FROM VILLA!
25′) Here comes Chile. That goal was a bit of a gift, though the GK did make a good decision to try to block off Torres, but Villa was too good, nailing the ball into an open net from 50 meters.
26′) That should settle us down a bit–Iniesta is taken down by Estrada. Just a warning, though, even though it is definitely another Yellow because he was cutting out the break.
27′) Free kick to Spain–Villa totally skies it. Efan Ekoku: “Well, that should definitely have been the second yellow.”
28′) Chile still looks very threatening, as they push forward. Free kick to Chile, as Villa takes out Sanchez. Man, that guy can do it all.
29′) Great defense there from Xabi Alonso; successive throw-ins from Chile lead to a corner for the South Americans. Vamos Iker!
30′) Another good clearance from Xabi Alonso, throw-in to Spain.
30′) Good play from Spain at the back, as Sergio Ramos begins to orchestrate the break.
31′) Chile looks good, but the Spanish defense looks better. Very solid in the back.
32′) Torres! He chokes again–lots of trouble keeping the ball under control…
33′) Corner to Spain culminates a nice offensive set.
33′) PIQUEEEEE!! UYYY! Perfect ball in from Xavi, but Pique can’t keep it down.
34′) BEUSAJOUR!!!! ONE ON ONEEE!! NOOOO! UYYYYY! Casillas does well to keep the ball out, as Pique runs back just in time to cut off the one on one. Yikes–terrifying opportunity right there for Chile.
35′) WHAT?! CLEAR PENALTY ON TORRES, BUT THE MEXICAN REFEREE CHOKES ON IT. Terrible missed call–Torres was leveled.
36′) GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLL! GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLLLL GOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLL GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLL!! INIESTAAAAAAAA!! WHAT A GOAL! PERFECT PLAY FROM SPAIN! INCREDIBLY BEAUTIFUL.
37′) RED CARD TO ESTRADA FOR TRIPPING TORRES OFF THE BALL! Ooooooh–could be accidental. Maybe.
38′) The commentators are debating whether that was accidental or not–Martin Tyler says it was, Efan Ekoku argues that that gets a card all the time, even if it is accidental. Weird call.
39′) Spain looks pretty good now, as I (and the rest of the Spanish fans) are glowing from two beautiful goals. Maybe Estrada’s sending off is soccer justice, because he deserved a red earlier.
40′) Spain hasn’t gotten a yellow card all tournament. Is Spain being “looked after?” (as Martin Tyler suggests)? Or is it that “they’re way too nice when they don’t have it–the problem is they always have the damn thing!”
42′) Pass, pass, pass, pass…mesmerizing Spanish soccer now. Still 0-0 in the other game, so hope isn’t lost for Chile.
43′) Spin is just swinging the ball around the pitch; side to side and back again. Things are looking pretty good for Spain, as Iniesta misses on a pass through to Torres.
45′) Sergio Ramos gets the ball again on the flank; he looks very good on offense, but shaky on defense. No clear “man of the half” so far, as Pique plays the ball all the way back to Casillas.
45’+1) Very nasty tackle there from Ponce on Xabi Alonso–STOMPS on his ankle, then pushes him to the ground. Vicious tackle, lucky not to get the second yellow there.
45’+2) HALFTIME. SPAIN IS IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT RIGHT NOW AGAINST A 10-MAN CHILE. Mediocre half from Spain, but the result looks good–we shook off the early nerves, and controlled the ball beautifully for the last 10 minutes.
46′) Here we go! Two subs for Chile: Esteban Paredes comes on for Valdivia; Millar on for Gonzalez. Valdivia was booked in the first half–Bielsa doesn’t want to go down to 9 men.
46′) Millar gets his first touch–and it’s horrible, as he totally misses the ball on a shot. Oops. I’m gonna take this moment to remark on how much I like the commentators for this World Cup–I remember having to mute the TV in 2006 because I couldn’t stand listening to them.
47′) GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOALLLLLLLLLL GOOOOOOOOOOAAAALLLLL GOOOOOOOAAAALLLLL! CHILE!! OH, SO UNLUCKY FOR CASILLAS! MILLAR TAKES A SHOT, CASILLAS HAD IT PERFECTLY READ, BUT IT BOUNCES OFF PIQUE INTO THE OPPOSITE SIDE OF THE NET. We have a game now.
48′) Free kick to Chile, comes to nothing–but Spain looks a bit shell-shocked, as Paredes gets a ball inside the box–offside, though Paredes’ shot is blocked by Casillas anyways.
49′) Looking better for Chile, who have come out swinging. We need to watch out, slow down the game and catch our breath…
51′) Dangerous looking possession from Spain comes to nothing as the Chilean defense holds strong; Villa gets a deflection, and shoots into the hands of Bravo.
52′) Down goes Puyol, clocked in the face by Paredes. No card.
53′) Great move by Alexi Sanchez on Chile’s right flank to win the ball from Villa, then make a couple of nifty moves on the sidelines.
54′) Great from Villa in the back to steal the ball and hold on to it. And off comes Torres, in comes Cesc. Very disappointing match from the Liverpool star.
55′) BEAUTIFUL FROM CESC! Gets the ball in to Villa, but it comes to nothing–he must’ve gotten by two or three defenders; culminates a beautiful Spanish possession.
56′) More possession from Spain–remember, Chile only has 10 men on the field.
57′) PIQUE! Gorgeous, but the move comes to nothing–give an go with Pique and Xavi, who feeds Iniesta, but nothing doing.
58′) Dangerous stuff from Sanchez on the right flank, but his cross sails over Paredes. We need to get moving here, hold possession more! VAMOS CHAVALES!
59′) Spain back on possession, Iniesta feeds Cesc in the middle, to Ramos, back to Cesc, into VILLA!! UYYYY! Almost. Beautiful play there.
60′) Dear Commentators, please stop talking about club soccer–I’m trying to forget about that.
61′) DAVID VILLA!!!! NO!!! BEAUTIFUL pass in from Cesc, but Villa can’t keep it under control to get a shot off–he would’ve been through on net.
62′) XAVI! WHAT A PASS! Beautiful ball in to Villa, but great defense from Ponce.
63′) Iniesta pickpockets the defense there, but comes to nothing. Better from Spain right now.
64′) Villa is getting tons of balls in right now–beautiful passes, but tight defense from Chile. Corner to Spain–too long. Villa has been getting hammered, but it looks pretty legal to me (if it’s not it’s a penalty, remember).
65′) Sanchez is off, on comes Oriana.
65′) My bad, everyone, it’s not Martin Tyler, it’s Ian Darke; I was right about Efan Ekoku.
66′) Lots of Spanish possession; if the results hold, Chile still goes through–in fact, they still go through even if they lose and Switzerland wins by only one goal.
67′) Dangerous possession from Chile, given up, and Villa runs hard with the ball at the entire Chilean defense–corner to Spain, comes to nothing.
69′) Ramos! Too long. Good play from the right back, but the cross sails over Iniesta’s head.
71′) Bad pass from Pique looking through to Cesc on the run–nothing. RAMOS! Cheeky little nutmeg there–he was only 16 when he made his debut. Javi Martinez looking to come on for Spain–young central midfielder from Athletic Bilbao.
72′) Good defense from Spain sets up a beautiful run from Villa in space! His cross to Xavi sails over; Xabi Alonso coming out for Javi Martinez–he looks like he’s wincing.
74′) We’re looking confident–maybe even over-confident right now, which is worrisome because all Chile needs to do is score once and we’re against the ropes.
75′) Javi Martinez’ first touch is mediocre, can’t get his foot on the ball for the shot, as it spins out.
76′) That’s better! Martinez’ cross flips through the defense, and cascades out to Iniesta who skies the shot. That went REALLY high in the air.
77′) Spain holding the ball in the back–nice and slow. Foul on Paredes. Wait, no, what? Foul against Spain? Hmm–looked like Paredes stomped on Javi Martinez, not the other way around. Still 0-0 in the other match.
79′) Offside. Paredes looked through there, but Pique and Ramos held a very good line. Pitch still looks fast–ball is bouncing quite quickly off the turf.
80′) OFFSIDE! UY! Paredes looked really on right there, open in front of Iker, but he was way off.
82′) Cruise control from Spain right now–tons of possession in the back; here comes Chile on the break–no.
83′) Efan Ekoku and Ian Darke are criticizing Portugal strenuously, saying they play boring soccer and will probably look for the penalty shootout against Spain.
84′) Chilean fans are celebrating in the stands, because they understand that Switzerland still has to score twice to overtake them–and it’s still 0-0 in the other game.
86′) Spain is looking to kill this game, passing around in the back–nice and easy. And the Chileans aren’t really pressuring them–this result works for both teams, so it’s OK, I guess.
87′) David Silva is going to come on–Del Bosque is looking to waste a bit of time.
88′) Chile is allowing Spain to do whatever they want–so long as they don’t try to score. Hmmmm. Boring. Fans are leaving–people are not happy that the teams are essentially agreeing to a draw.
89′) FABREGAS!! UYYYY! Great run from Ramos wide, slots it to Villa, who slides it over to Cesc–almost. Good play there.
90′) Silva has been waiting for a long time. 2 minutes of stoppage. 0-0 in the other game.
90’+1) This game is over–a truce has broken out right now. No one cares whether David Silva comes on or not. Job is done–all’s well that ends well.
90’+2) GAME. GREAT RESULT FOR SPAIN TODAY, THOUGH THEY DIDN’T PLAY THE BEST GAME–SPAIN WINS THE GROUP, CHILE SECOND! WE’LL PLAY PORTUGAL CAPE TOWN–A POR ELLOS!!