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Spain bidding to bounce back against Honduras

sports Updated: Jun 21, 2010 02:49 IST

AFP
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Spain are bidding to get their World Cup campaign back on track against Honduras on Monday following their shock opening defeat to Switzerland.

Spain suffered their first-ever defeat to the Swiss in their opening Group H match of South Africa 2010 and the Euro 2008 winners can now ill afford anything less than victory over the Central American minnows.

The Swiss defeat was only Spain's second defeat in 49 matches, but with momentum the key to progressing at the World Cup, the Spanish are already on the back foot and midfielder Xabi Alonso says there is no room for error.

Spain play Honduras at Ellis Park on Monday before facing Chile, who beat Honduras 1-0 in their opening game, in Pretoria next Friday.

"We need to take it step by step. Without doubt the game against Honduras is crucial because there is no margin for error," said Alonso.

"Afterwards we will think more about Chile."

With both teams opening their World Cup accounts with defeats, Alonso says it is unlikely to be easy.

"We're expecting a difficult game. Honduras did not get a good result against Chile and therefore it's an important match," he said.

"They are strong physically, with solid players at the back. And they will want to make things difficult for us."

The Spanish have endured a back-lash of criticism following their Swiss defeat and Alonso says the only way to make amends is to see off Honduras in style.

Having dominated virtually every aspect of the game against the Swiss, Spain's biggest problem was their finishing as they produced more shots (24-8), shots on target (8-3) and corners (12-3), but with no success.

"We know how to live with criticism," said Alonso.

"It's on the pitch where we will win credit. The best way to do that is to have a good game against Honduras and win the match."

But Honduras insist they will push Spain all the way, although coach Reinaldo Rueda is expecting to feel the full force of a Spanish backlash.

"We should not be distracted by the result. As one of the favourites and having lost their first game, Spain will be even more determined," Rueda said.

"That result means they will face us with greater intensity," he added.

"We cannot think the game will be easy. On the contrary, for me it will be more difficult."

And full-back Sergio Mendoza insists Honduras are not here to make up the numbers.

"We know that Spain are favourites thanks to their status on the international stage, but we've come to the World Cup to make history, not just to make up the numbers," said Mendoza on FIFA.com.

"The only way we can make history is to beat one of the favourites. It doesn't matter how we do it, the only thing that counts is winning the game."

Mendoza said his side were shocked when Spain lost to the Swiss.

"We were watching the game in the dressing room and we could barely believe our eyes," said the 29-year-old.

"But it wouldn't make any difference to us whether Spain had won or lost as we already needed to beat them anyway.

"I think that we need to give a better account of ourselves.

"We know all about the Spanish league, their players and their national team.

"We're well aware of their strengths but we know their weaknesses too."

Key to the match

This will be a nervy game between two sides who know they are effectively playing knockout football in the group stages with defeat meaning their World Cup hopes are finished.

Whoever loses goes wull almost certainly go home and much will hinge on whether the Spanish attack can fire against Honduras having coughed and spluttered their way through the defeat to Switzerland in Durban.