Spain confident defeat will spark reaction

POTCHEFSTROOM - Spain are optimistic that a shock 1-0 defeat by Switzerland in their Group H opener will stun the European champions into action for their second match against Honduras on Monday.

"The loss helps to show you that there are no easy matches, that every team at a World Cup will make it hard for you," defender Raul Albiol told a news conference on Saturday.

"The favourites are not winning," he added, in reference to defeats for France and Germany against Mexico and Serbia respectively and England's surprise draw with unfancied Algeria.

"If you look at past World Cups, we have often seen teams that start off losing go on to win the final."

Coach Vicente del Bosque was criticised by his predecessor Luis Aragones, among others, for fielding a cautious 4-5-1 formation against the Swiss.

He may switch to a more ambitious 4-4-2 lineup on Monday, with fit-again Fernando Torres partnering strike partner David Villa up front.

Spain dominated possession against the Swiss but failed to take their chances and suffered only their second defeat in 3-1/2 years following a 2-0 loss to the United States at the Confederations Cup in South Africa last June.

That defeat deprived them of a place in the final against Brazil but if they finish second in Group H they could play the five-times champions in the last 16.

MINIMAL CHANGES

Del Bosque, who is not known for making sweeping tactical changes, told As newspaper on Saturday if there were alterations to the starting 11 against Honduras they would be minimal.

"We have to reestablish ourselves, gain confidence and believe in what has given us so much success in the past," the 59-year-old said.

"We expect (Honduras) to close ranks but, on the other hand, they have to open up at some point and those spaces are what we have to take advantage of," he added.

"This team has had fabulous runs of form and now we are going for six wins. This is the message I have been sending to the players. There is no point in looking back only forwards."

"The positive side of this setback is that it's better to fail at the start than at the end," he added.

He may have been thinking of the 2006 World Cup in Germany when Spain won all three of their group matches, including a 4-0 thrashing of Ukraine in their first game, before losing to eventual runners-up France in the second round.

Honduras coach Reinaldo Rueda expects the wounded Spanish to come out fighting but said if his players work together they can cause another upset that would leave Spain's hopes of winning a first World Cup in tatters.

"These games (the Switzerland defeat) happen, just like they lost to the United States a year ago," Rueda said on Friday.

"They're the strongest squad in the world but we don't fear any one player," he added. "Collectively they are strong but if we work together we can overcome them. If we don't think we can win we may as well not play."

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