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Must-win game for Spain highlights Group B action in Brazil

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The Sports Network
6/18/2014 10:19:38 AM
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Spain aims to stay alive against Chile (TSN 1050, TSN 690, TSN 1260, TEAM 1410)

Spain enters its second Group B match against Chile on Wednesday at the Maracana in desperate need of a response.

The defending champions suffered an embarrassing 5-1 defeat at the hands of the Netherlands in their opening match, and another loss to Chile on Wednesday would bring an extremely premature end to their tournament.

After taking the lead against the Dutch with a penalty kick from Xabi Alonso in the 27th minute, Spain fell apart and watched as Robin van Persie equalized shortly before halftime.

The second half was a nightmare for Vicente del Bosque's team as they saw the Netherlands score four unanswered goals, including a pair of gifts from goalkeeper Iker Casillas.

Whether or not the veteran Casillas returns to the lineup in goal will be a tough decision for Del Bosque to make, but the coach feels as though his team has had time to get over the loss and get prepared for the next two games.

"Everyone feels that we are capable of turning things around," Del Bosque told Spanish television channel Cuatro.

"Many hours have passed and our spirits are higher. We now have to win our next two games, which won't be easy, but is within the realms of possibility. We are searching for the best possible preparation and we are trying to make sure the players are not sad, we have to enjoy ourselves."

The Spanish side still possesses plenty of talent, but La Roja must find a way to raise their game if they want to avoid a stunningly early exit from the tournament.

Chile, meanwhile, enjoyed a positive start to the competition by securing a 3-1 win over Australia that saw the club net two goals in the opening 15 minutes.

Alexis Sanchez scored in the 12th minute and Eduardo Vargas doubled the lead in the 14th to put Chile in firm control.

Australia pulled a goal back through Tim Cahill in the 35th, but Chile's Jean Beausejour finally killed the match off by scoring late to secure the win.

Viewed as a real threat to advance to the knockout round, Chile can put itself in position to win the group if the team is able to topple Spain, which would send the Spanish home early.

But Chile midfielder Arturo Vidal has his sights set a bit higher.

"We hope to play well against Spain, take the three points, and if we knock them out that would be great," Vidal said. "But we didn't come here to knock out Spain, we came here to win the World Cup."

Cameroon, Croatia aim to rebound in Group A (TSN 1050, TSN 1200, TEAM 1410)

Croatia and Cameroon will both be fighting to stay alive in Group A on Wednesday when the two sides meet up at the Arena Amazonia.

Both teams lost their opening match of the tournament with Croatia falling 3-1 to Brazil in the curtain-raising contest, while Cameroon dropped a 1-0 decision to Mexico the following day.

Those results mean that the loser of Wednesday's contest will be eliminated after just two games, while the winner would put itself back in contention for a place in the next round.

A draw would keep both sides alive, but would leave them with a lot of work to do in their final match.

Croatia was expected to challenge for a spot in the last 16 and certainly turned in an encouraging performance against tournament-favorites Brazil.

Niko Kovac saw his side take a surprising 1-0 lead in the 11th minute on an own goal from Brazil defender Marcelo before the hosts rebounded to level the match at 1-1 midway through the opening half through Neymar.

The game was there for the taking as it entered the final 20 minutes, but a questionable penalty call handed Brazil the chance to take the lead when Fred went down under minimal contact from Croatia defender Dejan Lovren.

Neymar converted the subsequent spot kick to put the Brazilians in front, and Oscar added a third in injury time to account for a flattering final score.

Although Croatia came away from the game with zero points, Kovac didn't seem to be the least bit disappointed by the result.

"We left an excellent impression, hats off to the lads," Kovac said after the match. "It's an honor to coach them."

Cameroon will also be looking to bounce back after falling to El Tri on a second-half goal from Oribe Peralta.

The Indomitable Lions were a bit fortunate to only lose 1-0 as Mexico's Giovani Dos Santos had two goals called off in the first half, illustrating a need for Cameroon to elevate its level of play on Wednesday, especially since it will face Brazil in its final group match.

A win for Croatia would likely set up a game with Mexico that would decide second place in the group, but first Kovac and his men must take care of business against Cameroon, which could benefit from the humid conditions in Manaus.



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