Current World Cup champions Spain get their campaign underway in a repeat of the 2010 World Cup final against the Holland in this Group B clash. Kick off for the starting teams is at 8.00 on Friday.
Spain has enjoyed a great number of years with their golden generation. Spain finished top of their group ahead of France in qualifying. In the build up to the World Cup they have beaten Bolivia 2-0 and El Salvador 2-0. The Netherlands finished first in their qualifying group winning 9 games and drawing 1. Their most recent friendly results in the build up to this World Cup include a 2-0 win over Wales.
Spain have so much talent in midfield that it is hard to pick out one but Iniesta has proven the key performer for Spain in the last 2 major tournaments. Scoring the winner in the 2010 World Cup final and receiving the “Player of the Tournament” award at Euro 2012.
Robin Van Persie
Van Persie will be the main man up front in Van Gaals 4-3-3 system and his record of 43 goals at International level is outstanding. If Arjen Robben and co can provide Van Persie with the adequate service the Dutch could reach the latter stages of this World Cup.
Spain will be without Thiago Alcantara and Jesus Navas through injury. Diego Costa is expected to start up front for Spain in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Pedro providing pace on the flanks. Kevin Strootman misses out for the Dutch due to injury. Van Gaal is expected to revert from a 4-3-3 to 5 at the back with Wesley Sneijder playing behind Van Persie and Arjen Robben.
Spain will dominate a lot of possession as always but have been slow starters at the last 2 major tournaments. They may struggle to break down this Dutch team with 5 at the back and Van Persie and Robben may cause problems for the Spanish defence. A 1-1 draw at 11/2 looks a decent bet.