A rematch of the 2010 World Cup Finals kicks off in the group stage on Friday as the defending finalists from Holland take on the champions from Spain. While both teams possess storied history and tradition on the international stage, recent results and form indicate that these are two squads headed in opposite directions.
The Netherlands were hit particularly hard by the injury bug in the lead-up to this year’s World Cup. Star striker Kevin Strootman was ruled out with an injury, as were key players Rafael van der Vaart and Gregory van der Wiel. As a result, the Dutch haven’t looked overly impressive in the matches leading up to this competition. Their top goal-scorer Robin van Persie had an inconsistent year at Manchester United, and many pundits seem to be siding with the Chileans to advance from a competitive Group B opposed to the Netherlands.
As always, Spain enters with lofty expectations to see if they can keep this golden run of success going. The Spaniards have won two European titles with a World Cup trophy sandwiched in between. This is an excellent era of Spanish football, and this squad still has the talent and right mix to thrive once again in Brazil. While much of the core remains the same this time around, the likes of Diego Costa up front and their previous championship experience make the Spanish a force to be reckoned with once again.
Spain vs. Netherlands Betting Odds:
Spain (-125) / Draw (+240) / Netherlands (+400)
Over 2 (-110) / Under 2 (-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Spain vs. Netherlands Prediction:
Although these two teams seemed fairly evenly matched in 2010, the Dutch won’t be capable of much this time around in Brazil. The majority of the preferred first-team squad enters the World Cup either injured or out of form, and as a result the Spanish should be able to emerge victorious.
With the Dutch entering this match limping at the moment, don’t expect Netherlands to be very open and attack-minded with their tactics. Not losing is pivotal in the first games of these shortened tournaments, but while a draw would be ideal, Spain is simply too good to let the Dutch have their wishes. With the apparent lack of fluency and urgency within the Dutch attack right now, Holland doesn’t boast much of a threat to Spanish team with no apparent weaknesses. Spain, as always, is expected to control the ball for the vast majority of the match, and should control the flow and tempo of the game as a result.
Spain plays a style that is entirely familiar to their loyal core and the players will execute it to perfection. In these brief tournaments, that familiarity, comfort-level, and experience, can be the difference between winning and losing. The likes of Xavi, Iniesta, Alonso, and Busquets know each other well and will be key cogs in picking up three vital points to begin their competition. Spain’s flair and creativity along the flanks will create a plethora of scoring chances that the Dutch won’t be able to contend with.
This is a Holland side that lacks direction and any sort of consistency against a Spanish team that gives you exactly what you’d expect. Look for Spain to dominate the midfield, possessing the ball enough to distribute it to their new weapon up front in Diego Costa. Costa had an excellent season at striker for Atletico Madrid and is primed for a monstrous World Cup. He could be the final piece in reviving what can at times be a stale Spanish attack.
While Spain has often been criticized of their ultra-conservative tactics and their reluctance to play offensively, this version of the squad should be able to blow out teams at will, the Dutch included. Don’t confuse this Netherlands team with their predecessors in 2010, this is a team that has looked lost and lacks cohesion. Expect the Spanish to make them pay. A comfortable 2-0 scoreline seems fitting in a match-up between these two footballing giants.
PICK = Spain (-125)