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Spain battle for World Cup survival

Published:Wednesday | June 18, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Spain's Gerard Pique, center, jumps over a mini soccer goal during a training session at the Atletico Paranaense training center in Curitiba, Brazil, Monday, June 9, 2014. Spain will play in group B of the Brazil 2014 soccer World Cup.- AP

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP):

The magnitude of Spain's opening 5-1 loss to Netherlands comes into sharper focus today when the defending champions must fend off World Cup elimination against Chile, less than a week into the tournament.

Spain and 2010 runner-up Netherlands were expected to advance from Group B, but plenty of pundits, including Brazilian great Pele, tipped Chile as a genuine contender to progress at the expense of one of those European powers.

The Chileans opened with a 3-1 win over Australia and a second straight victory by the South Americans would almost certainly knock Spain out of the competition.

The Dutch play Australia, the lowest-ranked team in the tournament, in the first of Wednesday's three matches. That is followed by Spain vs. Chile and the Group A match between Croatia and Cameroon.

Spain coach Vicente del Bosque stuck with the core group of players who have helped deliver two European championships and a World Cup in a tremendous streak starting in 2008. But after the humiliating loss to the Netherlands, he has forecast changes.