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Entries in Group H (5)


World Cup Preview: Group H Final Matches

World Cup 2010 Logo

Plenty At Stake On
Final Day Of Pool Play

One Great Season

Much like most of the groups in World Cup play thus far, the decision on which two teams will advance from Group H will be determined on the final day of pool play. 

In a group where Spain seemed a lock to advance, they now need a win over an impressive Chile squad to move on, and the Swiss team continues to show that the game doesn't have to be beautiful in order to succeed.

The overpowering storyline for this group is obviously Spain. The sexy pick to win the tournament, La Furia Roja now have to take down group leader Chile with a win to guarantee at least a second-place finish. The only problem is that Chile has been pretty damn impressive in their two victories so far. 

And even though Chile needs only a draw to advance, you can bet they won't drop back since the Swiss are expected to defeat the only team in the group without a point, Honduras. Not to mention, none of the three teams eligible to advance want to play Brazil, so you better finish first.

Both Spain and Chile have showcased what most soccer fans -- even soccer haters -- want to see: A relentless push forward, pinpoint passing and peppering opposing goalkeepers with shot after shot. This game has the potential to be the most exciting match of the opening round. In fact, to anyone who's been pondering giving soccer a shot, this is the game I've been pimping.

Aside from upsetting Spain, the Swiss haven't exactly been providing jaw-dropping moments. And despite losing to Chile, 1-0, the Swiss have maintained their identity as a defensive-minded squad and have executed the game plan to near perfection.

Rather than go over all the scenarios and tiebreakers, it's pretty safe to assume the following for each team:

+ Chile -- A win is not imperative, but it helps Chile avoid a potential meeting with Brazil in the next round.

+ Spain -- A win is necessary, but a tie is acceptable as long they score a shit-ton of goals.

+ Switzerland -- A win is necessary, but a tie is acceptable as long they score a shit-ton of goals.

+ Honduras -- Playing for pride.


When it comes to predicting what will actually go down in these games, I'm sticking with my original predictions when OGS World Cup coverage began. I have Spain defeating Chile 2-1, and Switzerland grinding out a 1-0 victory over Honduras. Spain, Chile, and Switzerland each finish with six points, but Spain and Chile advance on goal-differential and goals-scored tiebreakers.

Click here for Jake's bio and an archive of his previous stories.


Group H Preview: Spain vs. Honduras

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Spaniards Should Rebound
From First-Round Loss

One Great Season

One of the tournament favorites and one of its biggest underdogs meet in a matchup of winless teams Monday at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Honduras' first World Cup match in nearly 30 years ended with a 1-0 loss to Chile, and everyone in the entire universe knows what happened in Spain's first match. Although neither team has gotten on the board, this match has the potential to shake up the entire tournament. A Spain win immediately puts them back on track toward advancing, while a Honduras win could go down as one of the biggest shockers in tournament history.

Why Spain will win:

Although questions regarding Spain's ability to play as a team have arisen, there is no doubting the individual talent that fills the roster. Against Honduras' suspect back line, Spain should dominate the possession battle. I expect Fernando Torres to start up top with David Villa, and the dangerous duo will get multiple opportunities with players like Xavi and Andres Iniesta pushing the ball forward. Honduras struggled on the right side against Chile, and Spain will exploit that weakness and push forward in the attack.


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Why Honduras will win:

Honduras will take the same approach as Switzerland against Spain. Los Catrachos will stay compact in the back and absorb the Spanish attack with hopes of not letting one through. Honduras will look for the right time for a counter-attack, and Wilson Palacios and Ramon Nunez can provide possession long enough for a threat to develop. David Suazo may be set to return after injury, and he and fellow striker Carlos Pavon will look for that golden opportunity to convert, much like Switzerland did.

Player to watch:

Possession is key to Spain's success, and midfielder Xavi sets the standard of the possession game for La Furia Roja. Xavi provides the basis for the Spanish attack with his passing and ability to maneuver around defenders and distribute accordingly. Spain played with panic against Switzerland, but look for Xavi to restore the sense of calm to the Spanish side as they try to rebound. Xavi may not be the prolific goalscorer who grabs headlines, but he is nonetheless the driving force of the Spanish attack.


All skeptics will be looking at Spain when they take the field, and they will respond with a resounding statement in this match. Honduras had trouble with a talented Chilean attack last week, and Spain's world-class attack will be even more dangerous. Spain's passing game will wear down the Hondurans, and eventually lead to opportunities much like the game against Switzerland. However, this time Spain will cash in. The talent disparity in this game is too much to overcome, and Spain re-enters the discussion as favorites after a dominating win. Spain 3, Honduras 0

Click here for Jake's bio and an archive of his previous stories.


Cupset! Swiss Find Holes In Spain's Invincibility

In-Flight Satellite Television

In-Flight Satellite
Shows Switzerland's
Shocker Over Spain

One Great Season

HIGH ABOVE AMERICA -- Thanks to the miracle of in-flight satellite television, I was able to watch live Wednesday as Switzerland pulled off easily the biggest upset of the World Cup's first round of group matches.

(The green screens you see on the seatbacks pictured above are evidence that plenty of passengers were watching the Cup when not dozing off.)


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Billie Jean King

After drifting in and out of sleep in seat 22A for the first couple hours of my flight to San Francisco -- and missing almost all of Chile's 1-0 domination of Honduras -- I was fully awake for only the final 15 or 20 minutes of Wednesday's second match between Switzerland and Cup co-favorite Spain. But what a stretch it was for the Swiss, who held off one Spanish attack after another to preserve the 1-0 shocker.

(Billie Jean King was on my flight. That's her to the right.)

"(Switzerland) defended incredibly," ESPN Cup analyst Alexi Lalas would say after the game. "The tournament needed something like this."

In-Flight Satellite Television

Though the Swiss did indeed play some stellar defense, it was impressive how they weren't afraid to attack some on offense in the closing stages as well. I'm no soccer expert, but to me it hardly looked like a conservative late effort by the winners, as some upset-minded teams are content to put forth. Switzerland kept its foot on the gas until the final whistle was blown after more than five minutes of stoppage time. In both the 82nd and 83rd minutes, the Swiss almost converted separate chances to really salt the game away, but recovered well to thwart the late counters by the Spaniards.

One who is an expert is OGS Group H specialist Jake Yadrich, who, like everybody, expected an easy Spanish victory, but added that if Switzerland had any chance, it would have to be because of coaching. And for the short period I watched, the Swiss looked very disciplined and overall well-managed.


World Cup 2010: Group H Match Previews

One Great Season

Honduras vs Chile -- 7:30 AM ET

Honduras slid into the World Cup thanks to American Jonathan Bornstein's final-day-of-qualifying goal versus Costa Rica, and Chile avoided being booted from the Cup after a domestic-league relegation lawsuit led to FIFA's involvement. So it's pretty safe to say that both teams are glad to be in South Africa, no matter how they got there.

Why Honduras will win:

Los Catrachos probably know that no one expects them to do any damage in South Africa, and in sports, a team with nothing to lose often proves to be dangerous. Uber-talented midfielder Wilson Palacios launches the Honduran attack, veteran striker Carlos Pavon doesn't age, and David Suazo has proven dangerous at all levels. If goal-scoring opportunities are available, you can bet one of these three will deliver.

Why Chile will win:

Whenever your coach is nicknamed "El Loco," you know you've got a shot, but awesome nicknames aside, Chile is a talented squad. La Roja constantly send players forward, and the combination of Humberto Suazo and Mark Gonzalez can frustrate any defense in the world. The attack-heavy mindset produced 32 goals in qualifying, so it goes without saying that they can find the back of the net.

Player to Watch:

Chile may be the favorite to come away with three points, but Honduras' Palacios may prove to be the pivotal man of the match. Tottenham Hotspur's player of the year will be asked to make great contributions on both offense and defense, and with Chile's attacking style, a Honduran counter-attack led by Palacios could lead to rare scoring opportunities. Much like the 2006 World Cup did for Cristiano Ronaldo, the 2010 World Cup may put Palacios on a lot of teams' radars.


Honduras will be playing in their first World Cup match since 1982, and I think that will be the highlight for Los Catrachos. Honduras' weakness lies in its back four, and Chile's talent on the attacking side should get plenty of chances. La Roja's constant pressure will keep the ball in the Honduran half limiting the chances of a counterattack, and the youth of Chile will prove too much for the older Honduran squad. Chile 2, Honduras 0

Spain vs Switzerland -- 10:00 AM ET

Switzerland exited the 2006 World Cup as the only team not to have conceded a goal, but I don't see that lasting 30 minutes in their 2010 opener. The Swiss will bring one of the youngest sideas to South Africa, but the team will be forced to grow up quickly against the Spanish squad. As far as Spain goes, they are indeed the most talented team in the field, but can they finally deliver on the biggest stage?

Why Spain will win:

Iniesta, Xavi, Xabi Alonso, and Silva ... do I really need to say more? A midfield with that much talent provides the ultimate in maintaining possession, not to mention all four have the scoring capabilities of other countries' top strikers. When you add a scoring tandem like David Villa and Fernando Torres, there are no questions as to whether Spain will score. The question becomes how often. Oh, I forgot, goalkeeper Iker Casillas is absolutely ridiculous as well.

Why the Swiss will win:

Coaching may not have the biggest influence on soccer teams, but if you're coach has taken two teams to Champions League titles, you listen. Switzerland's greatest asset may be Coach Ottmar Hitzfield. The Swiss will be organized and patient in their possession and attack, and against a dangerous Spanish side, picking the right time to advance could be the only way the Swiss pull off a victory. Alexander Frei averages more than a goal per game in 73 appearances; I think it's safe to say he has a knack for scoring.

Player to Watch:

I know it's hard to select just one player to watch considering Spain's roster, but I will be watching Torres. El Nino may be one of the best strikers in the game, but he's also coming off knee surgery in April. He made his return in a recent 6-0 whipping of Poland, but come on, it was Poland. From a defensive standpoint, keying on Torres and David Villa simultaneously must be hell, but if Torres isn't 100 percent, Switzerland's defensive strategy becomes a little easier.


I don't even know why you would bother reading this portion, but in case you are: Yes, I am going with Spain. Although the Spaniards are nursing some bumps and bruises, making quick work of Switzerland will allow Vicente del Bosque to remove starters and give them some extra rest. Look for Spain to come out the gates firing on all cylinders and put Switzerland away early. Spain 4 - Switzerland 0

Click here for Jake's bio and an archive of his previous stories.


World Cup Preview: Group H

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Chile Poised To Join
Spain In Knockout Round

One Great Season

Looking at the draw for Group H, one thing is pretty obvious: Spain should dominate the competition and net ridiculous amounts of goals in the process. The only question surrounding Spain is which squad will show up: the one that dominated on their road to the Euro 2008 title, or the team that fell asleep during last year's Confederations Cup and lost to the United States?

"La Furia Roja" boast arguably the most talented roster in the competition. There will be no shortage of goals with David Villa and Fernando Torres patrolling the top. An insane midfield with Xabi Alonso, Xavi, Cesc Fabregas and Andres Iniesta will control possession in the middle, and a solid defense led by Carles Puyol and goalkeeper Iker Casillas should easily lead FIFA's second-ranked team to the knockout stage, and possibly, to the country's first World Cup title. The biggest key could be whether Torres and Fabregas return fully healthy from recent injuries.

BIO: Meet Jake Yadrich

Chile, Honduras, and Switzerland round out the group, and although Spain is expected to cruise through the opening stage, the remaining three teams could make Group H one of the more dramatic groups of the first round. Chile and Switzerland are ranked 18th and 24th, respectively, and Honduras is sporting arguably their best squad ever. It may not be the Group of Death, but it's still up in the air which team will join Spain in the knockout round, and that should provide some tense and dramatic moments along the way.

Chile may be coming in with the most momentum, finishing only one point behind Brazil during CONMEBOL qualifying. Coach Marcelo Bielsa's squad may have surprised some, finishing ahead of perennial power Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, but "La Roja" field a talented, young squad that have the ability to turn some heads should they advance. Get to know Matias Fernandez and Mark Gonzalez, as South America's most-improved team could provide some flash, and a few surprises in South Africa.

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Although Switzerland lost to Luxembourg during qualifying, the side still finished in the top spot after rattling off six wins in their final eight qualifying matches. During that stretch, the Swiss collected home and away victories against fellow World Cup participant Greece. In the 2006 World Cup, the Swiss were the only team that didn't allow a goal, but it may be hard to replicate the feat given their first match in South Africa will be against Spain. Forwards Blaise N'Kufo and Alexander Frei will get plenty of scoring opportunities, but one can't help but wonder if a less-than-challenging qualification group may have fully prepared the Swiss to compete against the world's best.

Honudras may have squeaked into the World Cup after the United States drew with Costa Rica on the last day of qualifying, but this team is far different than the country's only other World Cup squad that competed in 1982. "Los Catrachos" are ranked 38th in the world, but they may have an outside shot to advance considering the group they're in.  Although a last-day victory and a Costa Rica/USA tie ensured their spot in South Africa, the team still managed five victories in CONCACAF and finished third behind the USA and Mexico.


Group A | Group B | Group C | Group D | Group E | Group F | Group G

Personally, I am hoping that Honduras can surprise the field and move on. If you've read my bio, you know I work for the Kansas City Wizards of the MLS, and Wizards defender Roger Espinoza will be playing for the Honduran squad in South Africa. Seeing as I know the guy, I will be pulling for "Los Catrachos," but the truth of the matter is, they may not have the experience to advance.

Spain almost assuredly will advance past the group stage, so the June 21 match between Switzerland and Chile could very well determine which country will also advance. The speed and athleticism of the Chilean side should prove too much for the Swiss, and "La Roja" will continue to the group stage. No matter which two teams advance from Group H, things will only get more difficult in the knockout stage. The two teams from H will play the top two qualifiers from Group G, which consists of Brazil, Portugal, Ivory Coast, and North Korea.