Spain-Chile began as wide open as promised, and in the early-going, it was Chile who looked looser and bolder. Fernando Torres continued his tentative play, and even Iker Casillas made some basic miscues in the opening 20 minutes.
Then everything changed, thanks mostly to one guy. This guy.
Boy, David Villa’s worth every penny Barcelona spent on him, isn’t he? Keeper or no, being able to lash a ball into the net from like 50 yards is impressive, and doing so was a fine way to enter the record books as Spain’s all-time scorer at the World Cup. He also showed off his passing acumen to set up Iniesta for the other first half goal. Even on throwaway plays, Villa was zooming down the sidelines, looking twice as fast as anyone else.
Meanwhile, Chile could *not* catch a break. Along with their keeper charging halfway to midfield so he could dispossess Torres (only to send the ball right to the feet of Villa), Chile were harshly reduced to 10 men after the card-happy ref dropped a second yellow on Estrada. It looked like he and Torres just got tangled up, but the ref felt otherwise; so it goes. I suppose Chile weren’t entirely devoid of breaks, though — right before half, Ponce took down Xabi Alonso and could’ve been sent off himself. Apparently, the ref decided he’d done enough damage to Chile for the time being, though, and no card was given.
The second half started with a cracking goal that took a deflection to freeze Casillas, and suddenly Chile were in the drivers’ seat for second place over the Swiss. Asking Switzerland to get 2 goals is like asking Rush Limbaugh to get a conscience. It’s like asking a specific chimpanzee to produce Shakespeare. It’s like asking the oil to stop spilling. Some natural laws just can’t be broken. And so it was — after the 75th, Spain seemed happy to help kill the game and by extension punish the Swiss team that embarrassed them. I, for one, am glad they did. Defensive football is a fact of life, but the Swiss take negativity to another stratosphere, and I am glad the World Cup didn’t reward it with advancement.
So Chile’s prize? Brazil. Spain gets no pushover themselves in Portugal, and both games will be among the most wide open of the round of 16.
16 on, 16 out.