Brazil Soccer WCup Spain Chile

At halftime: Chile are calm, collected and winning 2-0 over erratic Spain


Story of the half: The 5-1 loss to the Netherlands is looking less and less like a one-off.

Like the opener, Spain look sluggish, old and devoid of ideas. Yes, Diego Costa has found some holes on occasion but he hasn’t come close to scoring. La Furia Roja are in need of a spark if they’re to avoid an early trip home.

Chile, on the other hand, look very comfortable. In defense, they are pressing high and giving Spain fits. When they have had chances, they’ve taken them.

FOLLOW LIVE: Soccerly’s real-time match center


20′ – After Claudio Bravo’s long ball to midfield, Xabi Alonso collected and looked to pass back but Alexis Sanchez was there to intercept. Sanchez quickly found Arturo Vidal on the one-two pass and then brilliantly split the Spain defense to find Charles Aranzguiz, who cut a pass to the back post for Eduardo Vargas. Iker Casillas challenged, Vargas pivoted to the right and dispatched low to score from 6 yards out.

43′ – Sanchez’ free-kick from 25 yards out was punched by Casillas into the middle of the box where Aranzguiz hit a one-time, outside-of-the-foot stab into the corner. Horrible goalkeeping by Casillas, who should have done better.

Other key moments: 15′ – Diego Costa with a smooth-dribbling 35 yard run into the box, mis-hit his shot low and wide of the far post where Andres Iniesta collected it and served it into a sea of players only for Xabi Alonso to emerge with the ball unmarked but his point-blank shot was well saved by Claudio Bravo. 27′ – A Pedro floater from the left was skimmed on by David Silva and found the on-rushing Costa, who’s left-footed shot was off-the-mark, largely due to the stellar shut-down defending of Gonzalo Jara. Some of the crowd thought it was in. In reality, simply a bad mis-hit by Costa.


Spain – Casillas; Azpilicueta, Ramos, Javi Martínez, Alba; Busquets, Xabi Alonso, Iniesta; Silva, Costa, Pedro

Chile -Bravo; Jara, Silva, Medel; Mena, Aránguiz, Díaz, Isla; Vargas, Vidal, Sánchez Goals: 20′ Vargas; 43′ Aranzguiz

Key Players:

  • Alexis Sanchez – Always dangerous, Sanchez seems particularly up for this match going against a number of Barcelona teammates.
  • Diego Costa – Has gotten through Chile’s defense twice only to spurn his efforts. Must be more clinical around goal if Spain are to have a chance.
  • Claudio Bravo – Did well to deny Costa on a few occasions but may need to be flawless if Chile are to collect all three points.
  • Charles Aranzguiz – A goal and an assist today, looking sharp and to make a name for himself.

Numbers to know:

  • 50 – Lost balls by Spain, compared to 45 by Chile
  • 9 – Fouls committed by each side
  • 247 – Total passes by Spain, compared to 178 by Chile

Questions for the second half:

  • Is the high press the death of Spain’s tiki-taka? For a six year period of time after Euro 2008, no one could keep up with Spain. But over the last two years and particularly now, Spain has struggled against the high press. Today, Chile is employing it brilliantly making Spain look slow. Don’t expect a style change mid-match or even mid-tournament, but La Furia Roja need a spark if they’re to avoid an early exit. Time to give some younger players a look?
  • How good is Chile? If they pull this one out those calls of ‘dark horse’ will grow louder and louder.

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
Leave a comment

Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
1 Comment

Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.