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Dutch want rematch revenge against Spain

By Reuters in Salvador,Brazil (China Daily) Updated: 2014-06-13 07:12

Spain opens its World Cup title defense against the Netherlands on Friday in a repeat of the 2010 final - with the Dutch out for revenge.

Andres Iniesta's strike four minutes from the end of extra time in the Johannesburg final crowned Spain as world champion for the first time and now, four years later, the European giants clash again at Salvador's Arena Fonte Nova in the opening match of Group B.

With Australia and South American dark horse Chile still to come, a win for either side would set the group's agenda.

Captain Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder, Nigel De Jong and Dirk Kuyt are the five survivors from the 2010 final in the current squad and the Dutch have made no secret of their desire for revenge.

"It was a big chance for us to win the World Cup and we were really close," said Aston Villa defender Ron Vlaar.

"It always burns inside to make something right. To play against them now in the first game is a great challenge."

Veteran midfielder Wesley Sneijder, who will win his 100th cap in the match, said the wounds of that defeat are still raw.

"It's like a scar that hasn't yet healed. It always gets me down when I think about it," said the Galatasaray star.

As the double European and reigning world champion, Vicente del Bosque's Spain is bidding to join Brazil and Italy as the only teams to enjoy back-to-back World Cup triumphs.

The ever-loyal del Bosque is expected to make just one change from the side that started and won the Euro 2012 fina, l with Chelsea's Cesar Azpilicueta coming in for Alvaro Arbeloa at right-back.

No fear, just respect

Cesc Fabregas should start up front for Spain with Brazil-born Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa expected to make a second-half appearance from the bench.

"We don't have any fear, but we do have respect," said del Bosque.

"Holland is a well-organized team, well-coached, and I am sure they will make things difficult for us."

Spain can expect a hostile reception in Salvador, judging by last year's Confederations Cup when it was widely booed on its run to the final - and a 3-0 loss to host Brazil.

Van Persie is expected to be fit, despite arriving in Brazil as an injury concern after sustaining a groin problem in last week's 2-0 friendly win over Wales in Amsterdam.

Coach Louis van Gaal has experimented with a 5-3-2 formation designed to close down Spain's potent attack and counter attack hard.

But the future Manchester United manager used a 4-4-2 formation against the Welsh to keep Spain guessing which system he will deploy in Salvador.

The Dutch attacking triumvirate of Van Persie, Robben and Sneijder will be expected to provide the offense, while their defence has been criticized as the team's weak link.

Spain is wary of its opponents' ability to suprise them on the break, warned midfielder Sergio Busquets.

The 25-year-old Barcelona star, who played in the 2010 final, said while most of the team that won the World Cup remains intact, the Netherlands squad now has a plethora of new young talent.

"We have practically the same players whereas they have had an infusion of new players and a new coach (Louis van Gaal)," said Busquets.

"They have deployed a different system of playing, with five defenders and relying on hitting their opponents on the counter attack.

"We have to thwart their counter attacks and also keep a close eye on their most effective players, such as Robben, van Persie and Sneijder."

(China Daily 06/13/2014 page23)

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