With the World Cup into its fifth day the Spain defender Sergio Ramos has said that the European champions are desperate to start their campaign. Spain were the last of the 32 nations to arrive in South Africa, landing in the country on the day of the opening ceremony in Johannesburg, last Friday. They and their opponents, Switzerland, will be the final teams to play their first match.
The Group H fixture will take place at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban tomorrow – the same day as the hosts, South Africa, and Uruguay play their second game in Group A, in Pretoria. Ramos said Spain were eager to play, especially as the injury news concerning the midfielder Andrés Iniesta has been positive.
"After a long period in Spain and here in South Africa we're keen to play the match and we want to show what we've been doing for a long time," said the Real Madrid defender. "It's true that the first game is important. The first game is crucial for confidence and for the mood of the players."
Spain appear to have been given one of the competition's more favourable draws, with Chile and Honduras making up Group H. But Ramos said he was only thinking about the first match, against the Swiss, and added that his side could not afford to underestimate any side or allow themselves to be carried away by having been widely tipped to become world champions this summer.
"It's the fans, the press and the other teams who have put us down as favourites, but we are keeping our feet on the ground, as we have been doing," said Ramos. "It would be a mistake to think we are the favourites."
Iniesta's attempt to shake off a thigh injury is on track. "He had a scan this morning which confirmed it is progressing well," said a Spanish federation statement. The Barcelona midfielder tweaked a muscle in Tuesday's 6-0 win over Poland in Murcia and has been training away from the rest of the squad at Spain's World Cup base, in Potchefstroom.
The Switzerland captain, Alexander Frei, and the midfielder Valon Behrami have been ruled out of the game against Spain, the Swiss coach, Ottmar Hitzfeld, said today. Frei and Behrami have failed to recover from ankle and thigh injuries respectively.
"They will not play on Wednesday," Hitzfeld said. "The aim is that they come back for the second match, against Chile."