This isn’t your slightly-older brother’s Netherlands team, even if Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder and Robin van Persie are there.
Some unfamiliar names visit the Starting XI as the Dutch hope to start the World Cup on the right foot with an upset defeat of reigning champions Spain.
The match kicks off at 3pm ET. Here’s what you need to know:
Netherlands: Cillessen; Janmaat, Vlaar, De Vrij, Martins Indi, Blind; De Jong, Sneijder, De Guzman; Robben, van Persie
Spain: Casillas; Alba, Pique, Sergio Ramos, Azpilicueta; Alonso, Busquets; Iniesta, Xavi, Silva; Diego Costa
1. Spain claims they are just hungry as ever despite winning everything, almost all the time. We’ve been hearing a lot about whether or not Spain is going to be able to find its desperation now that it has vanquished its WC demons. Manager Vicente del Bosque says he has no doubt they’ll be fine.
“We have a mature team and young players. We are not afraid of anything and we are in our prime,” said del Bosque. “I don’t have any fear for the future either because we have an under-21 team that are winning things and there are plenty of replacements that will ensure a bright future.”
2. Louis van Gaal’s compliment-filled mind games are also 100 percent correct. The soon-to-be Manchester United manager — stop asking him about that — is heaping credit on his opponents for making their soccer ‘pop’.
“I always find that if you are nice to others they are usually nice to you in return,” Van Gaal said. “I have excellent memories of my period in Spain, it was one of the best times of my career. Spanish football may well be the best football in the world at the moment, they have the tactics, the technique and the physical workrate to make them number one, and that’s what they are. We will have to play a compact game against them when they have possession, and that won’t be easy.
Expectation: Some good-looking soccer for both sides.
One blogger’s prediction: The Dutch provide a few moments of brilliance but ultimately fail to topple the reigning champions of nearly everything. Spain, 3-2.