Spain v Netherlands Preview

Group B | Friday 13 June | Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador | 21:00




The opening game of Group B sees a repeat of the 2010 World Cup final as defending champions Spain take on runners-up Netherlands. Spain are gunning for history in Brazil as they aim to win the 2014 trophy and for their current generation of talent to cement their status as arguably the greatest national team in football history.

To Win (90mins)
Spain 17/20 
Draw 23/10 
Netherlands 7/2

SPAIN

While Spain cruised through qualifying, topping their group in the World Cup may not be so easy as they face a challenge from the Netherlands, their foes in the 2010 final.

Featuring a squad very reminiscent of their team in South Africa – Xavi, Sergio Ramos, Andres Iniesta, etc – the Spanish squad is made up almost exclusively of players from FC Barcelona, Real Madrid and the English Premier League, with a couple of Bayern Munich players thrown in for good measure.

Also returning is coach Vicente del Bosque, who under his guidance has brought Spain’s dynamic tiki-taka style to the highest levels of international football.

For all that Spain has produced, some of the game's most classy players and has one of the best leagues in the world, the country never won a major tournament in its history until it took home the Euro Cup in 2008, which was followed by its first World Cup victory four years ago.

Before that, Spain's best Cup result had been reaching the semifinals in Brazil in 1950. The world champions have every chance of retaining their trophy for atleast another four years.

However, they will need to be at their utmost best. Sergio Ramos has had an incredible season, winning the Champions League with Real Madrid and will be eager to end off on a high.

Ramos is an integral part of Spain’s defence, and since the last tournament has made a switch from right back to centre back. He's the youngest European player ever to amass 100 caps.

Another important player is talisman Andres Iniesta. The Barcelona star helped lead Spain to their first cup victory in 2010 and, even at the age of 30, he is the main source of creativity for La Roja. Diego Costa could be the vital piece in Spain's jigsaw to help them retain the World Cup.

The Brazilian-born striker has blossomed into a star at Atletico Madrid and will be one of the most closely watched players in the competition.

His physical presence up front will give the Spaniards some grit going forward that should surely trouble the inexperienced Dutch defence. 

NETHERLANDS

Netherlands have many key elements left in their team from the extra-time defeat in Johannesburg four years ago, but also a clutch of younger and less experienced players.

The Dutch were the first of the European countries to qualify for the finals in Brazil, beating Italy by 20 minutes on the night of September 10, steaming through a relatively easy group by winning their first six matches and eventually dropping just two points in 10 games.

The last time the World Cup was held in South America, in Argentina in 1978, the Dutch reached the final only to lose 3-1 to the hosts, a fate they also suffered in West Germany in 1974.

Victory in Brazil this time would not only give coach Louis van Gaal his greatest prize, but also expunge their unwanted tag of the best country never to be world champions.

Robin van Persie captains the national side and during the qualifying campaign broke the record for the most goals by a Dutch international, overtaking Patrick Kluivert to reach 41 goals in 79 appearances.

The 30-year-old scored 11 goals in the qualifying campaign including a last gasp goal in Estonia, which kept up an unbeaten record for the Dutch.

Four years on from a World Cup final defeat to opponents Spain, winger Arjen Robben travels to Brazil at the height of his powers, having dealt with some of the demons that plagued him earlier in his career.

The 30-year-old has developed from being a raw, precocious talent into one of the key players in a dominant Bayern Munich side.

Robben's powerful, direct running and dribbling could cause Jordi Alba all kinds of problems and the Barcelona defender will have lots of running to do.

Betting Prediction: SPAIN 17/20
The winner of this encounter will likely top Group B with both teams expected to qualify for the knockout stages. The world champions should hit the ground running with an important victory over the team they’ve haunted for the last four years. Spain are tipped for the win. 

Written by Chadley Nagel for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now! 

Bet on this match now at Hollywoodbets.net! Haven’t got an account? Open one here now!