How Spain's Loss To Switzerland Could Be Devastating To Its World Cup Hopes

↵While people habitually just assume that Brazil is going to run away with the World Cup each time the tournament begins, it was Spain who had as much, if not more, buzz heading into this year's iteration of the championship. While Switzerland is far from a world-class pushover, they were not expected to challenge the Spanish squad and, in most cases, were not predicted to advance to the second round. A 1-0 win over Spain is nice for the Swiss, but it doesn't guarantee a trip to the next round. For Spain, however, the devastating loss does leave them in a heap of trouble. ↵

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↵The European champions have as much talent as any team in recent memory, as evidenced by the fact that the likes of Fransisco Torres and Cesc Fabregas didn't even start (both are, however, coming off of recent injuries). Of the two, Torres managed to get into the match against Switzerland, but didn't look anything close to sharp. Spain faces Honduras next in what should most certainly be a victory, before facing off against Chile in the last match of the group stage. ↵

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↵Should Chile defeat Switzerland, Spain still could win the group with two victories. That would give Spain six points to match both Chile and Switzerland with six (if they beat Honduras). The first FIFA tiebreaker is goal differential, then goals scored. If still tied at that point, it goes to head-to-head results. ↵

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↵Should Switzerland tie or win against Chile, they would be the clear favorite to win the group heading into the final match against Honduras, putting the winner of the Spain and Chile match into the second round as the second place team in the group. ↵

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↵Awaiting the second place team in Group H? The winners of Group G. I'll save you the time of looking it up: if Spain finishes second in its group, Brazil could be waiting in the second round. ↵

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↵Make no mistake, Chile only defeated Honduras by a goal, but looked absolutely dominant in their performance, so there's no guarantee that Spain won't lose that match, putting them out of the tournament altogether, no matter what the result in their second match against Honduras might be. ↵

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↵For argument's sake, let's look at the outcome of a potential tie against Chile: ↵

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↵⇥Spain could see themselves with four points in the group including, of course, a win over Honduras. If Chile and Switzerland tie in their match, Chile would have five points (win-tie-tie) and Switzerland would have a minimum of four (win-tie) heading into their final match against Honduras, putting the Swiss into the second round with any positive result against Honduras (win or tie). That would put Spain (loss-win-tie) out. ↵
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↵Realistically, the best way for Spain to advance is to win both matches. If Spain beats Honduras and ties Chile, they must hope that Switzerland beats Chile, making Switzerland the group winner (and the match against Honduras relatively insignificant), and leaving Spain left hoping to eek through on goal differential over Chile. That, however, could set up that dreaded second-round match-up with the Samba Kings. Winning the group is no peach either, mind you, as the first place team could face either Portugal or the Ivory Coast. Still, neither looks to be quite as fearsome as Brazil. ↵

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↵It seems the only scenario that has Spain sailing through to the second round would be two wins, a tie between Switzerland and Chile and an upset by Honduras over Switzerland. Any other scenario, best I can see it, Spain is unlikely to win their group, and in some cases, hoping to get through on goal differential. Not exactly what the world's number two team was expecting after its first match. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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