by Christian Karembeu
Yes, Spain won, but Chile made it easier for them. They started the game as group leaders and undoubtedly wanted to stay top to avoid Brazil in the next round. Chile's desire to do well perhaps put them under too much pressure and they presented Spain with two gifts, either through a lack of concentration or nerves. You are never going to get away with that up against the speed of execution and talent Spain possess, especially in players like Andres Iniesta and David Villa.
Paradoxically, Chile came into their own more in the second half, when they were reduced to ten men. They managed to reduce the deficit and compete on level terms with Spain. The Spanish usually enjoy far greater possession of the ball than their opponents, but in this game it was 54 to 46 per cent against a side playing with ten men. Chile surprised me in terms of their motivation and the energy they expended.
Spain are playing as we expected. Overall, they have dominated every one of their opponents with their usual strengths: good organisation at the back, very lively distribution of the ball in midfield, changes of tempo, and that extra little surprise Xavi can bring. They know how to move forward quickly from the back, which is something that would trouble any team. The Spanish are still finding their feet, however, essentially because Fernando Torres is not 100 per cent. Spain are a team used to putting a finishing touch on their moves; they do not always score, but in general they find a finishing touch and that usually comes from Torres. This was obvious against Switzerland, when despite having most of the ball and an endless number of attacks, they did not create very many clear chances. It was true against Chile too, perhaps only because Torres is still short of his best.
For me, this is still not the real Spain, but they're getting there. Vicente del Bosque wanted to put together a solid team with an emphasis on attacking. He loves slick football played in a formation that is strong at the back – with Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol only getting forward for set-pieces – and can attack from the wings. Whichever team they come up against, he has them playing his way. When I played for him at Real Madrid, he used to say to us before each match: "You know what you have to do – it's up to the other team to adapt." That has not changed since he took the Spain job, and there was proof of that as Chile changed their tactics, most notably by leaving Humberto Suazo on the bench.