Netherlands begin their 2014 World Cup campaign on Friday against holders Spain in a rematch of the 2010 final.

  • By Michael Bell
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netherlands v spainsLouis van Gaal’s side will go looking to avenge their 1-0 extra time defeat four years ago in the World Cup final, which is the last time these two nations met.

Spain will be heavy favourites for the game in El Salvador but Netherlands have never lost an opening game in a World Cup, and will be determined to get off to a good start in a tough group.

Netherlands will showcase their new 5-3-2 formation, which Louis van Gaal believes is the best way for his Dutch side to contain Spain, having watched Italy frustrate the Spanish using it during the Confederations Cup.

There is only one question mark over the way Netherlands will line up with Swansea City midfielder Jonathan de Guzman battling Feyenoord’s Jordy Clasie for a place in the starting eleven. De Guzman suffered a slight injury against Wales in a pre-tournament friendly, and will need to prove his fitness ahead of the game.

Netherlands likely line-up: Cillessen, Janmaat, Blind, De Vrij, Martins Indi, Vlaar, De Jong, De Guzman, Sneijder, Robben, Van Persie

Arjen Robben summed up Netherlands tactical approach to the Spain game saying, “I don’t think we’re capable at the moment of playing tiki-taka or beautiful football. In the end, it’s all about the result.”

Spain will stick with the same tactics that have seen them dominate world football for the last six years, with Vicente del Bosque set to line up with a 4-3-3.

Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa is fit to start, but Cesc Fabregas may be preferred in the ‘false nine’ role up front while Xavi and Koke battle it out for a role as playmaker in midfield.

Likely Spain line-up: Casillas, Azpilicueta, Piqué, Ramos, Alba: Xavi, Busquets, Alonso; Silva, Fabregas, Iniesta.

Key match ups:

Casillas v Robben

Arjen Robben had a great chance to win the World Cup for Netherlands when he was sent through one on one with the Real Madrid keeper when the score was 0-0. Casillas managed to divert the winger’s shot wide, and the moment has haunted Robben ever since.

Casillas is no longer Real Madrid’s number one keeper, while Bayern Munich’s Robben has been one of Europe’s best wingers over the past few years.

Can the Dutch star gain revenge?

De Jong v Alonso

Nigel de Jong’s Kung fu kick on Alonso has been the immortal image from the final in 2010, and the two will once again come face to face on Friday.

Who will come out on top this time?

Tika-Taka v 5-3-2

Spain will stick to their Barcelona brand of attacking football on Friday, but can the 5-3-2 formation that Louis van Gaal has perfected over the past few years triumph?

Past Meetings:

Spain may have got the better of the Dutch in their last outing four years ago, but the two previous matches had both gone to the Dutch, with Netherlands winning 1-0 in 2002, and 2-1 in 2000.


Dont expect to see a similar game to the brutal match in South Africa four years ago, as Netherlands will look to contain Spain without kicking them off the park. Netherlands will sit back deep to try and frustrate the Spanish attackers, and as soon as the Dutch get the ball they will look to set off Robin van Persie, and Arjen Robben up front.

If Netherlands are to finish top of the group and avoid a potential second round match up with hosts Brazil, avoiding defeat to Spain will be crucial. However Spain may prove just too good for the inexperienced Dutch defence, with the games against Australia and Chile the more winnable fixtures for Van Gaal’s side.

This is Netherlands though, and we can dream that over the next month, Robin van Persie & co lead the Dutch to their first ever World Cup win.

Hup Holland Hup!!

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