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Spain v Netherlands: Costa to Put Inexperienced Dutch Defence to the Sword in Salvador

Friday 13th June 2014
The 2014 World Cup in Brazil is finally here and the first big game of the tournament comes on Friday night as Spain play the Netherlands in a repeat of the 2010 Final. Traditionally two of the powerhouses of the world game, Spain and the Netherlands were slightly unlucky to draw each other in the group stages but nevertheless we are in for a mouth-watering clash in Salvador which could really spark the tournament into life. It was Spain who of course came out on top in that famous World Cup Final back in 2010 and it will be fascinating to see how the two teams have progressed since then.

Unsurprisingly, it is the Spanish who will start the game as the warm favourites as they begin their quest for an unprecedented fourth major title in-a-row. This Golden generation of Spanish players have collected the European Championships of 2008 and 2012 while their World Cup win four years ago was the highlight of their now legendary era. No National side has ever won four competitions on the bounce but there is no doubt that this Spain squad is capable of that if they can perform to their best over the next few weeks. They breezed through qualification with relative ease, while their domestic league remains top of the tree as the recent all-Spanish Champions League final between Real and Atletico Madrid confirmed.

Spain were however brushed aside by Brazil in the Confederations Cup Final last summer in slightly worrying fashion and they have been a little weak in the World Cup betting ever since. There is a slight feeling that they peaked as a team after their Euro 2012 success but it should be noted that Spain have lost just one of their last 36 competitive games, which is a stunning record by any standard. They have further been boosted recently by the return to fitness of Diego Costa who set La Liga alight last season when he led Atletico to a famous title triumph. The Brazilian born striker is a real handful and with that in mind, Spain are a best price of 20/23 with Bet Victor to start the defence of their World title with three points on Friday night.

The Netherlands have gone close to World Cup glory on a number of occasions but so far they are yet to taste the ultimate glory. They went all the way to the final four years ago as we have already mentioned and once again they do have plenty of talent at their disposal as they look to go one better in Brazil. Louis Van Gaal led the team to the World Cup with the minimum of fuss and he will be hoping to go out in a blaze of glory before he takes over the reins at Old Trafford after the tournament. It won't be easy though for the Dutch in a tough group with Spain, Chile and Australia with most believing that they will need to be at their best just to progress to the last 16.

Van Gaal will be relying on his experienced stars like Arjen Robben and Robin Van Persie to lead the Netherlands to success but support for the star players is looking a little thin on the ground these days. On paper at least, they seem to lack experience in defence which has to be a major worry for Van Gaal, especially given the attacking flair of the Spanish. The strength of the Dutch league is perhaps not the best at the moment and that is reflected in this squad which is likely to come up short in Brazil.

The Netherlands do have a decent recent record against the Spanish but they haven't met since that 2010 World Cup and the feeling is that the Dutch squad has regressed plenty since then. The bookmakers are certainly against a Holland win here with punters currently able to get a price of 4/1 with Paddy Power about the men in Orange causing something of an upset and winning the match.

Opening group games at any World Cup are notoriously cagey affairs with both teams normally afraid of losing such an important match. They may well be an element of that here but Spain are the better team and their passing style of football should see them dominate possession in Salvador. Diego Costa has been the form man in Europe over the past season in front of goal and up against a Dutch defence who are inexperienced at this level, you have to fancy the big man to cause more than enough problems. The Dutch look to be lacking strength and depth when it comes to star names and that means backing Costa at 9/2 to score first on the way to a Spanish win looks like an appealing prospect.

Tip 1 – Diego Costa to score first @ 9/2 with Paddy Power

Tip 2 - Spain to win to nil @ 15/8 with Betfred

Tip 3 – Netherlands to pick up first booking of the match @ 4/7 with Paddy Power
Sean Raymond
Sean is an a passionate Liverpool fan and an experienced writer who is never short of opinion or two when it comes to the beautiful game. Liverpool have been his life long team, through thick and thin, although he is also a regular at lower league games and can often be found down on the south coast following AFC Bournemouth. He is more than happy to pick apart the major issues, even if they involved his beloved Reds while his favourite players are listed as Robbie Fowler (Hallelujah) and John Barnes among others. A keen sportsman, despite having very dodgy knees these days, Sean will be tackling the big issues head on throughout the season.

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