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WORLD CUP USA '94 / ROUND OF 16 : TODAY'S GAMES AT A GLANCE : At RFK Stadium Washington

July 02, 1994|BILL PLASCHKE

Spain vs. Switzerland

* TIME: 1:30 p.m. PDT

* TV: ESPN, Univision

* KEY MATCHUPS: This is a battle of teams that mirror each other. Both bland, both defensive minded, neither with much chance of showing up at the Rose Bowl in the third week of July. The Swiss have advanced as far as the quarterfinals once in six World Cup appearances; the Spaniards have survived this second round twice in eight appearances. In three first-round games, Switzerland outscored its opponents, 5-4. Spain outscored it opponents, 6-4. Each team took 50 shots. Switzerland gave up 24 shots, Spain 25.

The game will be decided in the matchup of midfielders. Spaniards Juan Antonio Goikoetxea and Josep Guardiola have combined for three goals and one assist. They will be pitted against Georges Bregy and Alain Sutter, Swiss midfielders who have also combined for three goals. The most important midfielder, however, could be the one who doesn't play. Spaniard Jose Luis Caminero, who scored twice in a five-minute span against Bolivia, picked up his second yellow card of the first round in the final minutes of a victory and will sit out this game. The Swiss' two top forwards, Adrian Knup and Stephane Chapuisat, could be in for a beating. Spanish defenders Albert Ferrer and Abelardo Fernandez have teamed for 17 personal fouls, more than Switzerland's entire defense combined. This game also marks the return of a third powerful Spanish defender, captain Miguel Angel Nadal, who sat out the last two games because of a red-card violation in the opener.

* OUTLOOK: It is uncertain which teams will show. Will it be the Swiss team that muddled through a 1-1 tie with the United States and a 2-0 loss to Colombia or the Swiss team that soundly whipped Group A champion Romania, 4-1? Will this be the Spanish team that gave up two goals in the final minutes to South Korea in a 2-2 tie or the Spanish team that led defending champion Germany for 24 minutes before fighting to a 1-1 tie? The only certainty is that the Swiss team comprises individual stars who often act like individual stars. The Swiss had only one assist in the first round. The Spaniards, nine of whom played for the same Barcelona team in their country's tough pro league, act much more like one unit. They compiled six assists. It is that sort of behavior that usually wins World Cup games. The Spaniards also have the advantage of having played their first-round games under the broiling sun in Dallas and Chicago. The Swiss played twice indoors in Pontiac, Mich., and then once in the low humidity of Palo Alto.

* OUTCOME: The reign of Spain will not fall gently on the Swiss. Neither is playing well enough to win this game and be considered among the world's best eight teams, but the Spanish have enough ability to fake it for 90 minutes. Spain by two.

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