Following last Wednesday’s shock defeat to Switzerland, Spain have been licking their wounds at their base camp in the small town of Potchefstroom, to the south west of Johannesburg. The lessons of that painful setback having now been digested, La Roja are vowing to hit back hard in their next engagement, which comes on Monday against Honduras.
“We’ve moved on from the Switzerland match and we’ve got our minds focused on Honduras already,” Xabi Alonso told FIFA in an exclusive interview, sending out a message of calm to fretting Spain fans.
Reflecting first of all on his side’s false start, the Real Madrid midfielder offers a frank assessment. “I have a lot of respect for Switzerland,” he says. “They are a very good side and they play their own game. They have their own way of interpreting football and that’s the way they approach every match. We have our own style as well but obviously things didn’t work out for us. Maybe if we’d scored first, the result would have been different, but they took the lead instead and the game worked out perfectly for them. We just couldn’t find a way back.”
The reason for that was the formidable defensive barrier erected by the Swiss, an obstacle that the Spanish, for all their possession and precision passing, could not overcome.
“We just couldn’t score,” admits the former Liverpool man, who believes his side have the wherewithal to break through what is sure to be a well-staffed Honduras rearguard: “We have to beat them and to do that we need to be patient. We know there are no easy teams around but we need to take control of these situations. If we go a goal down, we have to keep our cool and not lose our heads.
We’ve got no other option but to win and if we’re going to do that we need to show more of an attacking mentality.
The doomsayers have been saying that morale in the Spanish camp has been dealt a fatal blow, arguing that Spain’s relatively poor FIFA World Cup™ record is a burden too big for them to bear, but those are theories that Alonso is keen to dismiss: “We’ve got no other option but to win and if we’re going to do that we need to show more of an attacking mentality, and right from the first minute too.
According to some commentators, morale in the Spanish camp has been dealt a fatal blow, with their relatively poor FIFA World Cup™ record is a burden too big for them to bear, theories that Alonso is keen to dismiss: “There’s a different perspective to the game when you’re on the pitch to when you’re off it. It’s too soon to talk about curses, and there’s still plenty of time to turn the situation around. Hopefully things will be looking a little different in a few days time.
“It’s a real privilege to be taking part in such a magnificent event as the World Cup and that makes us even more motivated,” continues Alonso, by way of conclusion. “We want to be here for a long time yet and we definitely don’t want to go out in the group phase. We’ll be fighting for every ball and we’ll be playing every minute of every game as if it were the last one.”