The World Cup final is still almost a month away but as far as Spain’s Andres Iniesta and Fernando Torres are concerned, they are already facing a final on Wednesday when they play Chile in a make-or-break Group B match.
The world and European champions made the worst imaginable start to the defence of their global title when they were humbled 5-1 by the Netherlands in the opening match and both veterans of the 2010 success in South Africa know they face the point of no return.
“We just have to forget what happened against the Dutch,” midfielder Iniesta told a news conference at the Maracana where Wednesday’s game will unfold.
“This is our first final, then we face another one against Australia and although we faced a similar situation in South Africa when we lost our first match, this is a very difficult situation.
“We have to win, there is no alternative. And we have to play it as if it was the World Cup final that’s the only way to win it.
“Of course we are equipped for that.
“We all know we did not play well in the first match, especially in the second half and it is difficult to explain what happened. But although we have not started well, we still have the chance to change the situation.”
Torres, who has been in and out of the Spain team over the last two years as his goals at Chelsea have ebbed and flowed, was asked whether his presence at the conference meant he was playing.
“You better ask the coach that, I don’t know,” he joked before saying it did not matter if he played or not as the entire squad of 23 players and all the technical staff were totally united in their common goal.
“We will win it together as a team or lose it together,” he added. “We just have to be very positive in this situation.”
Spain face the possibility of becoming only the third defending champions to be eliminated from the competition at the first stage following Brazil in 1966 and France in 2002 but Torres is not even contemplating such a fate.
“All we have thought about since losing to Holland is beating Chile,” he said.
“There are always three possibilities in a match, but we have only ever thought about winning. Chile is a very dangerous opponent and they are not going to sit back and defend.
“A draw is not enough for us. This is a final now that we have to win.”
Spain could still advance from the group if they lost to Chile and other results went their way, but in all likelihood they would go out.
“It’s not something we have even considered,” Iniesta said. “We are only concerned with winning.”