For Netherlands, the first game of the World Cup against Spain will set the stage for glory or despair. Spencer Steevensz looks at why.

hol v spaIt’s all about the first game. Not because they’re facing the assumed group leaders, and its not because that’s Spain. As the Dutch have proved time and time again, their disappointments often come from themselves, not their opponents.

Oranje fans everywhere watching the Netherlands drawn into Group B, knowing they’d be facing Spain again in a World Cup. The Dutch we’re riding high up until July 11, 2010 when Iniesta scored the winner in the 119th minute of play. Since then, the Netherlands Elftal has not won back its confidence.

Two years later we entered the Euro 2012 tournament with high hopes. Not much had really changed – same core team, same coach, with just one difference – they lost. When Denmark went up by one, and the Dutch couldn’t equalize, they’re camp imploded with in-fighting. The team had no unity, and a team of good players will almost always win against eleven great players wearing the same color shirt.

Getting revenge against the team that stole their confidence could inject hope, unity and self-belief in a new Oranje team.

Winning, or even a draw, against Spain in the first game of the group stage would avenge the defeat from South Africa and be the perfect catalyst for the team to regain their confidence and remind themselves – we have a shot at winning this.

This team has stark differences from the team that was brought to the World Cup 2010 and the Euros in 2012. And, a starkly different coach. Van Gaal is a dictator, and any player who picks a fight will fear a spot on the bench, whether it be for a game, or until Van Gaal hands the reins over to Guus Hiddink in July.

This band of players is younger and more domestic, who are less likely to let their egos trump their performance. And, those who have had acted inappropriately in the past have hopefully matured, and will come together, realizing this is their last chance to be part of the first team from Holland to bring home the worlds greatest prize.

Few predict Holland to stand out this summer, and many are putting their money on Chile beating the Dutch to send them home before the knockout stage. But no team led by Louis Van Gaal, with the likes of Van Persie, Robben and Sneijder can be written off easily. If they can pull it off, names like Wijnaldum, Veltman, Depay and Van Aanholt could become household names all over the world in the next two months.

It’s time for Holland to step out of the shadows dating back to 1974 when even the mighty Johann Cruyff couldn’t bring a World Cup home. It’s time for them to let go of the personal differences that have hindered them on the pitch. Whether its 4-3-3 or 5-3-2, its time for total football.

Spencer Steevensz (104 Posts)

I'm a digital/social marketer out of Chicago. I grew up loving Dutch football - total football is the only way to play. I support PSV in the Eredivisie, and whatever team has the most Dutch guys on it in any other league. Hup Holland Hup!