MADRID (Reuters) - Chile are planning to challenge Spain for possession of the ball when the Group B rivals meet at the World Cup finals in June, according to their coach Jorge Sampaoli.
Spain typically hog the ball for long periods as they attempt to break down ultra-defensive opponents but Sampaoli said he would send his players out to hound the world and European champions instead of defending deep and looking to hit them on the counter attack.
The tactic worked well when Chile played Spain in a friendly in Geneva last September and they were leading 2-1 thanks to an Eduardo Vargas double before Jesus Navas equalised in the 91st minute.
“We played each other recently and it ended with 52 percent possession for Spain and 48 percent for us,” Sampaoli said in an interview with Spanish sports daily Marca published on Friday.
“The idea, yes, is to challenge for possession through winning the ball back and not to allow the opponent to dominate,” the Argentine added.
“Spain are comfortable if they have the ball. The idea is to pressure them from the start and share the ball.”
While the theory sounds sensible, putting it into practice was much harder and required players to be in exceptional physical shape, Sampaoli conceded.
“That’s the goal and that is the key to it,” he told Marca.
”In the last 15 minutes of that game, Spain equalised a clash that we had won.
“How do you maintain such intensity for such a long time? That is the key.”
Spain play Chile, whom they beat 2-1 in the group stage on the way to winning their first world title in South Africa in 2010, in Rio de Janeiro on June 18 with Group B completed by Netherlands and Australia.
Reporting by Iain Rogers; Editing by John O'Brien