"We've missed a lot of goals in both games." Chile striker Esteban Paredes's comment on his side's profligacy in front of goal in this tournament is one that could just as well apply to Spain, their opponents in Friday's decisive Group H match.
Indeed, when asked about their relative lack of goals in their opening two matches, Spanish strike duo David Villa and Fernando Torres offered up similar laments about their unusually wayward finishing. "We've created a lot of chances again, just as we did against Switzerland," said the new Barcelona signing after scoring twice but missing a penalty against Honduras on Monday. "We weren't sharp enough up front, though, and it should have been more than 2-0." His fellow forward Torres concurred, saying: "We've had so many chances but the good thing is that we at least managed to get a couple of goals this time. The team's improving and that's what counts."
The finishing ability of the two most vaunted attacks in Group H will come under scrutiny once more on Friday evening when they meet at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Tshwane/Pretoria. With each side having scored only two goals apiece, the two Rojas will be out to improve on that figure as they bid to seal qualification for the Round of 16. That paltry return is all the more remarkable considering Spain's shot count of 46 and Chile's of 40 – well ahead of Switzerland's 15 and Honduras's 16, which rank among the lowest in the tournament.
"The two teams we have faced so far have played very defensively," added Paredes, pointing to one of the reasons behind the South American Rojas' problems in front of goal. "Fortunately we managed to keep operating as a team and stay calm. I hope we can be a bit sharper against Spain and put our chances away."
"You're always unhappy when you miss a penalty and so many other opportunities," said Spain goalkeeper and captain Iker Casillas after the game against Honduras. "My only hope is that we can score the goals we haven't scored today in the games to come." The South Americans will certainly need their shooting boots on if they are to improve their record against the European champions, who have beaten them six times in seven meetings to date, the other encounter ending in a draw. On top of that Spain have not lost a final group game since Mexico 1986, though the Chileans are not letting statistics and history get them down.
"We are a very young team that is going though something magical here," said Chile midfielder Jorge Valdivia. "We are creating our very own history and in football anything is possible. Switzerland showed that by beating Spain and though that doesn’t mean to say we're going to beat them too, we are going to fight our hardest and keep on working hard. We're going up to be up against one of the big favourites for the title."
"They are a good side and they've won two matches out of two," added Villa, one of the men who will be expected to unlock the Chilean rearguard. "But we have to think about ourselves. We know that if we win we'll definitely be in the next round and with a bit of luck we'll hopefully go through first. All we need to focus on in the next couple of days is winning and nothing else."