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Old June 15, 2010, 11:43 PM
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al-Sagar al-Sagar is offline
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Default Spain vs Switzerland Preview

An irresistible force

There is no way to sugar the pill for poor old Switzerland: they don't stand a chance against Spain. Ottmar Hitzfeld's well-organised side are up against a team that have played with supreme self-belief since shedding their underachiever tag with victory at Euro 2008 and are favourites to win their first ever World Cup.

Spain have lost just one game in their last 48 - the Confederations Cup semi-final against USA - and booked their place in South Africa by winning all ten qualifying games with a brand of football so breath-taking that it has been labelled "art". Vicente Del Bosque's side have a midfield of such high quality that Arsenal skipper Cesc Fabregas, who has been linked with a £40 million move to Barcelona, can't even get in it and they are blessed with similar strength in depth all over the pitch.

Switzerland have never won a game against Spain, losing 15 of their previous 18 meetings, and this is arguably the best La Furia Roja side there has ever been. Although Liverpool striker Fernando Torres and midfield maestro Andres Iniesta have only recently returned from injury, Del Bosque can simply call on the likes of Xabi Alonso and David Villa to step it up so the relentless Spanish machine is unlikely to miss a beat.

Switzerland will rely on a stout defence to stop the Spanish attack and will hope to repeat their feat at World Cup 2006 when they didn't concede a single goal, even if they still went out of the competition. With captain Alexander Frei injured and no other Swiss forward scoring a goal for the past five games, Hitzfeld's men will have to rip up the form book, pass it through a shredder and recycle it as confetti if they are to get a result in Durban.

Spain player in focus: David Silva. An outstanding player in his own right, Silva has been overshadowed by the exploits of Barcelona duo Xavi and Iniesta in midfield, but the Valencia star scored a wonder goal in Spain's 6-0 demolition of Poland in their final warm-up game and will be hoping to maintain that form in South Africa. He is almost certainly on the move after the World Cup so the eyes of potential suitors will be on him.

Switzerland player in focus: Blaise Nkufo.
This Congo-born striker will be buoyed by his unexpected title success with Dutch Eredivisie side FC Twente this season and, at 35, the veteran has plenty of experience to call on to try and ruffle the feathers of Spain centre-backs Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique. He finished the qualifying campaign as Switzerland's top scorer, with five goals, and will head to new club Seattle Sounders as a hero if he can make his mark.

Key battle: David Villa v Philipe Senderos. Barcelona, who know a thing or two about decent strikers, have just spent £34 million to sign Villa, who smashed in 21 Primera Liga goals this season, from Valencia. He finished Euro 2008 as the tournament's top scorer and after netting seven times in qualifying he will have his eyes on the Golden Boot in South Africa. Hoping to stop one of Europe's most fearsome strikers is new Fulham defender Senderos. Unfortunately for Switzerland the centre back has hardly kicked a ball this season and spent the second half of the Premier League campaign on loan at Everton, watching from the stands.

Trivia: Switzerland were surprise winners of the 2009 FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Nigeria but none of the triumphant starlets have made it into Hitzfeld's World Cup squad.

Stats: Spain have won their last seven group games at the World Cup. Switzerland's five-game winning streak in qualifying was the longest in their history during World Cup qualifying.

Odds: Spain (1.25), the draw (5.50), Switzerland (13.00) with Bet365. The odds on Spain to win are terrible, but David Villa to score anytime and Spain to win 4-0 offers 16.00.

Prediction:
Spain are superior in every department and if La Furia Roja don't win this game it will be the shock of the World Cup.
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