Chile can expect an angry backlash when they play wounded champions Spain in their FIFA World Cup™ showdown on Wednesday, coach Jorge Sampaoli warned his players in Tuesday's pre-game media conference.
Spain were crushed 5-1 by the Netherlands in their opening Group B game on Friday and will be eliminated if they lose to Chile on Wednesday and the Dutch avoid defeat against Australia. The same set of results would carry Chile into the Round of 16, but Sampaoli expects to encounter a very different Spain at Rio de Janeiro's Maracanã.
"I think Spain's players are very experienced, very mature, so probably they'll play better than against the Netherlands," he said. "I think they will be difficult to beat. Don't forget they're one of the best teams in the world. I'm sure the game will be quite different because Spain are really strong and I'm pretty sure the Spain coach will have some sort of strategy for tomorrow (Wednesday)."
Don't forget they're one of the best teams in the world.
While Sampaoli believes that Spain's key players have become fatigued after years of competing at the very highest level, he still feels that they are capable of successfully defending their title in Brazil.
"It's true that they've changed," added the Argentine, who succeeded Claudio Borghi in December 2012. "The players are more or less the same, but they're a little tired due to the competitions they've played in at home. They're still high-quality players. I think they could win the World Cup. And in any case, they're the defending champions."
Like Spain, Chile play a possession-based game with a high defensive line and Sampaoli vowed that they will not abandon their approach despite being up against the masters of tiki-taka.
"We're very interested in being able to play with the ball like Spain do," he said. "I hope that one day we'll be able to play with the ball like Spain do, or did at a certain moment in time. I hope we'll be able to play with the ball and not so much without it (in Wednesday's game), because otherwise we'll betray our main strengths."