Spain midfielder Xavi said his team is feeling the pressure of what is likely a must-win FIFA World Cup™ match against Chile on Friday in order for the reigning European champions to advance.
"There's a great deal of pressure because we have to win," the Barcelona playmaker said. "We have to take control of the ball and assert our personality on the pitch."
An opening 1-0 loss to Switzerland has left the Spaniards vulnerable. Chile lead Group H on six points from two wins with Spain and the Swiss on three, the Spanish ahead by one in goal difference, and winless Honduras not yet out. "We should have more points but this is the way it is," said Spanish coach Vicente del Bosque. "We have to save this situation and get to the knockout stage."
While a victory would clinch a last 16-berth, a draw would leave the door open for the Swiss. Should the Spaniards lose again, they would need a Honduras victory for any hope, a stunning fate for a team fancied to lift the trophy. "Let's see if we deserve to qualify," del Bosque said. "There is some balance now. That's good. The rivals are better. Anybody can be out in a minute."
We have to save this situation and get to the knockout stage.
"The important thing is to move on to the knockout stage," said Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos. "They [Chile] have fast players on the counter. They can hurt you a lot. They will close spaces and won't make it easy for us."
Chile coach Marcelo Bielsa has vowed to play an attacking style even though a draw would be enough to secure a berth in the last 16. That, Xavi says, is just what the Spanish want to hear. "We're glad they are going to attack," he said. "Chile is an intense team. They don't give you time to breathe. They are pushing forward. They will try to attack. We have our own plan. It's a good plan that has worked for years. It might take us a long way in the World Cup. It's going to be a wonderful show."
Xavi would not go so far as to promise a victory but said he was confident Spain would play up to their potential. "I feel comfortable. We've played two good matches. We played much better in the first match than the second but we didn't win," Xavi said. "We have to be optimistic all the time that we are going to win. That's what we will offer to the Spanish people. We will try to make them all happy."