Spain - Honduras Preview: Luis Milla's team desperate to bounce back from Japan defeat
After the shock humbling at the hands of the Asian nation, changes are likely for La Furia Roja and Luis Suarez's team could incur the wrath of Juan Mata and Co.
By Ryan Benson
Azpilicueta, Dominguez, Botia, Alba
Mata, Isco, Muniain
Leveron, Velasquez, Lopez, Figueroa
Mejia, Espinoza, Najar
Following his team’s shock 1-0 defeat to Japan on Thursday, Spain coach Luis Milla will likely ring the changes for the crucial tie against Honduras after slating his side’s performance in the loss.
Real Sociedad centre-back Inigo Martinez saw himself sent-off in the Group C opener and will most likely be replaced by Sporting Gijon man Alberto Botia, meanwhile Cesar Azpilicueta could come in for Martin Montoya at right-back.
Providing players pass fitness tests, Milla also looks set to make changes in midfield. Atletico Madrid’s Koke could be replaced by Ander Herrera, while the diminutive midfielder’s team-mate at Athletic Bilbao – Iker Muniain – could start in place of Rodrigo after injury ruled him out of the Japan defeat.
In contrast to Spain, Honduras coach Luis Suarez was pleased with his team’s showing in their first match of the tournament, earning a 2-2 draw against a good Morocco side; therefore wholesale changes are not expected with no new injury problems reported.
Against the North Africans Suarez elected to swarm the midfield and play just the one striker, tactics that look certain to be chosen once again with Jerry Bengtson looking to build on his day one double.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
Spain and Honduras have only ever met twice, both games taking place at the World Cup.
The two teams drew 1-1 at the 1982 World Cup in Spain, while Vicente Del Bosque’s La Furia Roja eased to a comfortable 2-0 win in 2010 on the way to their first ever World Cup triumph.
This is only the third time Honduras have played football at the Olympics, first appearing in Sydney in 2000, followed by Beijing eight years later.
Of their seven matches so far they have managed just one win, drawing a further two and losing the rest.
Spain’s previous Olympics record is impressive, winning the gold medal in 1992, followed by a quarter-final finish in 1996 and losing in the final four years later to Cameroon. From 17 matches they have lost just three.
Honduras’ Maynor Figueroa (pictured right) has more than twice as many full international caps (88) as the entire Spanish squad (43).
Of the Honduras squad only Figueroa and Roger Espinoza were at the 2010 World Cup, while Juan Mata and Javi Martinez were part of Spain’s winning unit.
Eleven of the Spain squad that lifted the 2011 European Under-21 Championship trophy are in the party this summer.
Atletico Madrid’s Adrian Lopez played a key role in the Under-21 victory, bagging five goals on the way to claiming the golden boot
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Top 3 Predictions
Spain U-23 2-0 Honduras Under 23
- 20.96 %
Spain U-23 3-0 Honduras Under 23
- 13.31 %
Spain U-23 3-1 Honduras Under 23
- 10.2 %
|Olympic Games (OLY)||29 Jul 2012||Spain U-23 0 - Honduras Under 23 1|
|1 Aug 2012||Spain U-23 0 - Morocco U-23 0||OLY|
|29 Jul 2012||Spain U-23 0 - Honduras Under 23 1||OLY|
|26 Jul 2012||Spain U-23 0 - Japan Under 23 1||OLY|
|-||David de Gea||Goalkeeper|
The Chelsea man was not at his very best against Japan, perhaps leading on from his form towards the end of the Premier League season, but there is no doubt Mata is a key cog in this Spain team.
From anywhere in the attacking third, whether that is on right, from the left or in the centre, Mata has the ability to create something from very little with his ball control able to lure in defenders before sliding intricate passes into dangerous areas, but he will have to improve.
The 24-year-old is the most experienced player in the squad and must take some responsibility in the attacking third, after Milla’s side looked panicky and rushed in attack against Japan.
In attack Bengtson will undoubtedly shoulder most of the burden, while in midfield Mario Martinez will be the one coach Suarez will look to for that creative spark, but against Spain at any level the performance of the defence will be key.
Wigan’s Figueroa offers endless experience as well as versatility, equally comfortable in the centre and on the left, while he is just as effective in attack as he is at the back.
Should Honduras get anything from this match it is highly likely that Figueroa will have had some kind of impact on that, but he will have his hands full with whoever starts up against him for a Spain team determined to get some points on the board.
Honduras’ performance against Morocco proved they are no mugs and possess some decent players, while Spain looked all over the place at times when they fell to Japan on matchday one.
However, Milla will make changes following that reality check, therefore adding more quality to the team after several players missed out against Japan due to injury, and La Roja know they must win.
That determination is likely to show through and could either result in them easily disposing of their Latin opponents, or crumbling under the pressure. One would have to bet on the former.