Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld has warned Spain, their first FIFA World Cup™ opponents, not to expect an easy start to life in South Africa next week.

After drawing 1-1 with Italy in Geneva at the weekend, Hitzfeld has given his squad several days off before they meet in Zurich on Wednesday for their flight to Johannesburg.

On 16 June, their campaign commences against a nation touted by many as one of the favourites for FIFA World Cup glory following their impressive Euro 2008 triumph, but Hitzfeld, who has already won everything at club level, insists the Swiss are not just going to make up the numbers in South Africa.

"We know that it is going to be a tough task, but we have chances," he said. "Spain also have weaknesses. Anything is possible in a match. If we were playing Spain over two legs, then it may be hard, but it is different over just 90 minutes."

Hitzfeld is still trying to find his optimal starting XI and Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Tranquillo Barnetta - considered as a regular in recent years - is currently his biggest question mark having spent the last few weeks in the firing line for his lacklustre performances in friendly matches.

If we were playing Spain over two legs, then it may be hard, but it is different over just 90 minutes.

Ottmar Hitzfeld, Switzerland coach

Hitzfeld left the 25-year-old out of his team against Italy, but insists it was not a punitive measure. "It was not a reaction to his performance against Costa Rica, otherwise I would have had to replace many players," he said.

"Barnetta missed a lot of the second half of the season for Leverkusen due to injury. He lacks rhythm and training has been hard for him; he is a bit tired."

Barnetta himself has no fear of losing his place to Gelson Fernandez, who impressed in his position on Saturday. "The coach told me that he wanted to try Gelson in this position, but I am certain that I will be 100% fit on 16 June against Spain," he told Switzerland's Blick newspaper.

"It can only be good that the coach has alternatives. At a World Cup, you need 23 players and Gelson played a good game"

And Barnetta is convinced he and his team mates will be able to raise their game further in South Africa to play a leading role, not only in their group games against Spain, Honduras and Chile.

"I think that we have shown the whole of Switzerland in our game against Italy that we don't need to fear anybody in South Africa," he added.