And now, the end is near, and so I (they) face the final curtain (perhaps). It’s crunch time for Spain. Having already successfully proved that they’re not quite a match for a Netherlands side who Australia just gave a hell of a game, they face Chile knowing that a defeat will see the reigning champions depart in the first round. This is a move that France pioneered in 2002 and one which La Roja will be very keen not to repeat. Accentuating the positives, though, Spain have already scored more goals than France did on that occasion.

Their opponents, Chile, are enjoying quite a purple patch of form. They played out an exciting 3-1 win over the Socceroos in the first match and will be fired up by the prospect of going toe-to-toe with the world champions. Moreso after last Friday, of course, but they’re only human. They will also perhaps be heartened to see that Vicente Del Bosque has rung the changes in the Spain team. Pique and Xavi both miss out, a fact simply bound to be a win or bust strategy.

Terry Duffelen and, god help you, Ted Carter are your guides to this pivotal game.

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