Friday 23 February 2018

Hitzfeld fears 'quick, direct' Chile will pose greater threat than Spain

Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld claims to be expecting an even bigger fight from joint group leaders Chile than pre-tournament favourites Spain, whom his side stunned 1-0 in their opening match.

Speaking on the eve of his second Group H match, Hitzfeld said that Chile, who finished above Argentina in South American qualifying, will be favourites in today's clash, with strong individual players and attacking flair.

"They are very strong when it comes to running, to physical presence, they are also very strong in one-to-ones, very quick in breakaway attacks, very direct play," said the German-born coach.

"Chile are extremely dangerous, they're also very aggressive when it comes to forward play, more aggressive than Spain even, so we've got to reinforce our defence work, we have to be more focused in order not to concede a goal."

Both teams are in the unlikely position of joint group leaders after the Swiss beat the Spaniards 1-0 and Chile defeated Honduras by the same score in their first win at a World Cup in nearly half a century.

Chile's last win in the competition was in the third-place play-off as hosts in 1962. They had since qualified for the World Cup four times but failed to win any group matches.

Hitzfeld refused to say if he would stick with the same line-up against the South American team.

"It's only a possibility. But we might as well have a line-up with two or three forwards to really go for the attack and put pressure on Chile," he said.

He and his players were careful not to let the win over Spain go to their heads, he insisted.

"All players have realised just how sensational the win against Spain was -- we cannot take it for granted to just simply blow away Chile with our hands down. It will be very hard work," he stressed.

Irish Independent

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