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Spain vs. Switzerland instant analysis

Here we go then, favorite Spain finally gets into the action, and the team is at full strength with the inclusion of Andres Iniesta. I was slightly concerned by Swiss coach Ottmar Hitzfeld's pregame suggestion that: "We'll need to be compact at the back, defend with nine men and hit them on the break when we can," given the massive lack of ambition it betrays. But at least in the absence of captain and main striker Alexander Frei, HItzfeld's gone for Eren Derdiyok, a tall, powerful striker who's been getting scouts hot under the collar since his international debut a couple of years ago.

Spain: Iker Casillas; Sergio Ramos, Carlos Puyol, Gerard Pique, Joan Capdevila; David Silva, Xabi Alonso, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets; David Villa.

Switzerland: Diego Benaglio; Stephane Grichting, Philippe Senderos, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Reto Ziegler; Tranquillo Barnetta, Benjamin Huggel, Gokhan Inler, Gelson Fernandes; Blaise Nfuko, Eren Derdiyok.

This is another match up between a side that can play football and a side that can stop other sides playing football, but in the mix this time, I'm delighted to tell you, is English referee Howard Webb. He is probably the best English referee, but that's a bit like being the thinnest person at Weight Watchers.

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The Spanish anthems is sung (by the crowd, the Spanish players look quite grim-faced despite a jaunty trumpet), then the gentle Swiss number is well sung by the players. The fans seem to have been drowned out by the arrival of 4,934,574,952 bees.


According to Sergio Ramos, the Spanish squad is desperate to get out onto the pitch and kick-start its World Cup campaign. If Spain plays like it did against Poland recently -- winning 6-0 -- perhaps we'll finally get the World Cup action we've been waiting for. Fernando Torres will likely be on the bench, with five men behind David Villa, but Spain does the exciting, hit-em-hard and fast kind of 4-5-1. My hopes are high.

Other than Torres, Vicente del Bosque's side will be at full strength if Andres Iniesta is passed fit for the midfield, and not much worse off if Cesc Fabregas has to take his place. The Swiss, already a defensive unit whose best hope is containment, will be robbed of key striker Alexander Frei, who's yet to fully shake off an ankle injury. Ottmar Hitzfeld isn't prepared to risk defender Valon Behrami (thigh), either, which whiffs a little bit of hoping to pinch a point and saving his resources for more winnable games against Honduras and Chile.

Kickoff is at 10 a.m. ET, so open up this page while your boss isn't looking and join me for live analysis of the action and a bit of fun besides. Emails to, if you please.