Spain drops Xavi, Pique for must-win against Chile
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Spain coach Vicente del Bosque dropped regulars Xavi Hernandez and Gerard Pique in favor of Pedro Rodriguez and Javi Martinez for the defending champion’s crucial World Cup match against Chile.
Spain needs a victory at the Maracana stadium after losing its opening match 5-1 to the Netherlands, and Del Bosque decided to replace two of the players who were a key part of the team’s previous three straight major championships titles.
Del Bosque stuck with captain Iker Casillas in goal but preferred Pedro in attack. Martinez partners Sergio Ramos at centerback.
Chile, meanwhile, replaced forward Jorge Valdivia with midfielder Francisco Silva in a bid to slow Spain’s attack. Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal lead the South American attack for the second straight game following a 3-1 victory over Australia to open Group B.
Xavi has been the one of the core players in leading Spain to consecutive European Championships and its first World Cup win in South Africa four years ago. Xavi and Pique, also Barcelona teammates, have a combined 194 caps for Spain.
Brazilian-born striker Diego Costa leads Spain’s attack for the second straight match.
Spain: Iker Casillas, Cesar Azpilicueta, Jordi Alba, Sergio Ramos, Javi Martinez, Sergio Busquets, Xabi Alonso, Andres Iniesta, David Silva, Pedro Rodriguez, Diego Costa.
Chile: Claudio Bravo, Mauricio Isla, Eugenio Mena, Gary Medel, Gonzalo Jara, Charles Aranguiz, Marcelo Diaz, Arturo Vidal, Jorge Valdivia, Alexis Sanchez, Eduardo Vargas.