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FIFA World Cup Preview: Spain v Netherlands

12 June 2014 14:42

Spain's FIFA World Cup defence begins on Friday against their final opponents from four years ago, the Netherlands.

Vicente del Bosque's side triumphed in a bruising encounter aganst the Dutch in Johannesburg to confirm their dominance over the world game, though both sides are now in starkly different eras.

While just seven of Netherlands' 2010 vintage have retained their place ahead of their tournament opener at Salvador's Arena Fonte Nova, many of Spain's top stars have returned for a last tilt at glory.

The likes of Xavi, Iker Casillas and David Villa - so crucial to their consecutive European Championship wins and World Cup success - are likely playing in the competition for the final time.

One of the younger talents in the squad, Atletico Madrid midfielder Koke, will compete in his first international tournament as he looks to continue his stunning 2014.

After playing a pivotal role in Atleti's midfield as they secured a first Liga title since 1996, Koke feels privileged to have earned a place among what he believes is still a formidable winning unit.

"Spain always have a winning mentality," he told reporters. "We have kept the same philosophy, which is to go out and play with the same style that has characterised us for so many years - that's how this group became winners."

Spain's main fitness doubt surrounds Brazil-born striker Diego Costa, but Koke insists his Atleti colleague is close to being back up to full-speed after the latter part of his season was plagued by hamstring problems.

Costa managed to play 73 minutes in Spain's 2-0 friendly victory over El Salvador last week and Koke is excited to see the 25-year-old make his impact.

The midfielder added: "Of course he's ready. I think everyone could see that against El Salvador, he fulfilled everyone's expectations.

"He was looking sharp, he could sprint, and in training he has been the same. I think he is 100 per cent fit. If he wasn’t, he would have told the coach."

Netherlands also hope to have one of Europe's leading forwards ready to go after Robin van Persie was withdrawn as a precaution during their 2-0 friendly win over Wales with an apparent groin complaint.

With the exception of the Manchester United star, the Dutch squad will finish working with Louis van Gaal at the end of the tournament as the decorated coach leaves his post to embark upon a sizeable rebuilding job at Old Trafford.

Van Gaal's decision to experiment with a back-three setup during pre-World Cup friendlies raised eyebrows but Bayern Munich winger Arjen Robben is confident a remodelled system - starting against one of the most established styles in modern football - can bear fruit in Brazil.

He told FIFA.com : "We have played three matches with the new formation and none of our opponents - Ecuador, Wales and Ghana - created a lot of chances, whereas we did. I'm really confident that this is the best way for us to play in at the moment."

"I worked with him (Van Gaal) at Bayern Munich before he took this job, so he has been very important to my career. Along with (Pep) Guardiola, I can say he is the best coach I ever had."

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Info

Spain

W L W L L

1 - 5

Competition
World Cup
Date
13 June 2014
Game week
1
Kick-off
21:00
Half-time
1 - 1
Full-time
1 - 5

Goals

Xabi Alonso (PG) 27'  
1 - 0
1 - 1
44' R. van Persie
 (assist by D. Blind)
1 - 2
53' A. Robben
 (assist by D. Blind)
1 - 3
64' S. de Vrij
 (assist by W. Sneijder)
1 - 4
1 - 5

Lineups

# Player Bookings
1 65'
15
3
22
18
6
14 27'
8
21
16
19
Coach: Del Bosque
# Player Bookings
1
2
7
3 41' 64'
4
11 53' 80'
10
6
8 25'
5
9 44' 66' 72'
Coach: L. van Gaal

Substitutes

Monday 22 September

Sunday 21 September

23:59
23:54
23:46
23:20
23:04
22:50
22:43
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04:31
04:24
04:00
03:02
02:58
02:23
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01:16
01:10
00:30
00:10
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Saturday 20 September

23:48
23:37
23:28
23:27
23:18
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22:49
22:42
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22:21
22:19
21:58
21:54
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21:31
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21:04
20:53
20:52
20:45
20:41
20:09
20:00
19:55
19:49
19:37
19:29
19:20
19:11
18:57
18:26
18:09
18:03
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18:00
17:52
17:26
17:20
17:08
15:46
15:40
15:22
15:16
15:08
14:58
14:07
12:42
12:09
11:34
11:03
07:13
05:19
04:04
03:20
02:42
01:31

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