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World Cup Finals 2014
Match of the Day Live: Spain v Netherlands
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A replay of the 2010 World Cup final; the first game of the group of death that also includes the dangerous Chile and dogged Australia. This is going to be very interesting.
Spain are littered with stars whose credentials speak for themselves. Most of the players who won the last World Cup are there, only now they have something they didn’t have in 2010: a true centre forward. If he is fit, Diego Costa is a wonderful addition to Spain’s armoury.
As for the Netherlands, manager Louis van Gaal is in the bizarre position of “auditioning” for the Man Utd job after having been given it. The fans at Old Trafford will certainly be judging him. Yes, there are superstars – Arjen Robben, Robin van Persie, Wesley Sneijder – but van Gaal can give the Netherlands a vital team spirit. He’s done that at pretty much every club he has been at, so it bodes well for the Dutch – and for Man Utd.
I suspect the Dutch will have to defend very solidly, and count on their front four players to target them on the counter attack. Expect it to be reserved to start. They’ll try to suss each other out, have a bit of a spar, then suddenly it will burst into life.
Spain v Netherlands (Kick-off 8.00pm). Coverage of the opening World Cup Group B match for both teams, which takes place at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Brazil. Spain enter the tournament as the reigning champions after beating the Netherlands in the 2010 World Cup final in South Africa. What was expected to be a showpiece contest turned into an ill-tempered affair that produced 14 yellow cards, and saw Dutch player Johnny Heitinga sent off following a second booking in extra time, shortly before Spain produced a winner through Andres Iniesta. This evening's fixture could prove to be another cagey encounter, especially as both nations will be eager to start the campaign with a positive result, as they attempt to navigate their passage to the knockout stage from a group that also includes Australia and Chile. While the Spanish side will be among the favourites for glory once again after winning their last three major tournaments and reaching the final of the Confederations Cup in Brazil last year, the Dutch will fancy their chances after going undefeated in the qualifying campaign, winning nine of their 10 fixtures. Presented by Gary Lineker, with commentary by Steve Wilson and Mark Lawrenson, and analysis by Rio Ferdinand, Thierry Henry and Alan Shearer.
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