Friday, June 13, 2014

Spain vs Netherlands World Cup - Group B 13-06-2014

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Spain vs Netherlands - Competition: FIFA World Cup, Group B
Match date: 13 June 2014 - Kick Off Time: 20:00 BST
Venue: Itaipava Arena Fonte Nova (Salvador, Bahia)

The defending World Cup champions Spain will kick off their title defence on Friday, hoping to become just the third nation since its 1930 inauguration to win back-to-back WC championships. But with an aging roster playing in a difficult Group B that includes Netherlands, Chile, and Australia, the Spaniards won’t find this monumental task an easy one. They enter the global tournament as the 3rd-highest favorites behind glory-hungry Argentina and host nation Brazil, despite some pundits and fans claiming that manager Vicente del Bosque’s side is the best to ever grace the pitch with 2 European Championships bookending their 2010 World Cup triumph. Mainstays Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez will be looked to, to provide leadership and experience from the midfield, while newcomers to the fold like Atletico Madrid star Diego Costa aim to prove themselves on the biggest stage in sports and stake their name in football lore. The latter has battled an injury since limping off the field in the Champions League final, but news has emerged that the Brazilian-born Spaniard will be fit to start here in Salvador, Bahia. Form has been uncharacteristic but altogether good for the “home” side here, winning 8 of their last 10 matches, including a 1-0 defeat of Italy and a 2-0 defeat of El Salvador last time out that witnessed the seemingly ageless leading goal-scorer in Spanish history David Villa net both goals.

The Netherlands begin their campaign to avenge their 2010 WC final defeat against the very same team that ended their pursuit of football glory. Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben, and Wesley Sneijder were all starters in that deep tournament run, and all three will return here as their nation’s veteran leaders. But while van Persie and Robben are sure bets to perform at a high level as neither has seen a major drop-off in club action, the big question mark headed in for the Dutch is Sneijder. The midfielder netted 5 goals in the 2010 games and was his team’s main catalyst from central midfield. But he has undoubtedly taken a dip in his career, and his ability to retain the form of 2010 may prove crucial to their cause in a difficult first round group. Coupled with the devastating loss of Kevin Strootman to injury, Sneijder’s midfield presence becomes all the more important for the “visitors”. However, Le Oranje is known for almost always playing well in the global competition, and manager Louis van Gaal has been credited as a managing mastermind. The newly-signed Manchester United manager appears set to deploy an uncharacteristic 3 defender formation in hopes to put immense pressure on Spain’s preferred tiki-taka football, with this tactic yielding positive results against the reigning world and European champions in past matches (see Brazil’s 2013 Confederations Cup victory).

Spain last 5 matches:
17/11/13 Equatorial Guinea 1 – 2 Spain
19/11/13 South Africa 1 – 0 Spain
06/03/14 Spain 1 – 0 Italy
30/05/14 Spain 2 – 0 Bolivia
07/06/14 El Salvador 0 – 2 Spain

You can watch the match here:
 Link 1 , Link 2 [Live Scores]

Netherlands last 5 matches:
19/11/13 Netherlands 0 – 0 Colombia
05/03/14 France 2 – 0 Netherlands
17/05/14 Netherlands 1 – 1 Ecuador
31/05/14 Netherlands 1 – 0 Ghana
04/06/14 Netherlands 2 – 0 Wales

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