In one of the week’s more glamorous international friendlies, the Netherlands host Spain at what will be an expectant Amsterdam ArenA on Tuesday.
Never mind the 2010 World Cup final and Nigel De Jong’s kung-fu kick on Xabi Alonso, much has changed since the pair met just 291 days ago in Salvador, when a five-goal Dutch blast stunned the then world champions and kicked off what would be a miserable 2014 World Cup for them, but with their two principle tormentors – Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie – both missing here, as well as the Dutch being in disappointing form, just what can we expect this time around?
Here are five things to keep an eye on.
Guus Hiddink’s Reception
When Louis van Gaal was in charge during the World Cup in the summer, the Dutch were in the unusual position of not only knowing who was going to succeed him, but who would be the successor to the successor, too.
It seemed like a good plan to install Danny Blind on the coaching staff so he could learn from Van Gaal and Guus Hiddink before taking over in 2016, but Hiddink’s increasingly bizarre behaviour and apparent loss of the dressing room has led for many to call for an early end to the tenure of the 68-year-old.
After Wesley Sneijder’s stoppage time effort cannoned in off Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and salvaged a draw against Turkey in a qualifier at the weekend, Hiddink admitted that he ‘didn’t know’ how to fix his side’s problems during what is his second stint as national boss.
As he’ll find out on Tuesday, that hasn’t gone down well.
Will Bas Dost Be Unleashed From The Start?
However, the beleaguered veteran might find a saviour in the prolific Wolfsburg forward Bas Dost, who came on for his international debut in the Turkey game and is pushing for a start alongside Huntelaar here.
The 25-year-old has scored 15 goals in 22 appearances for the Bundesliga side this season, and although a partnership with Huntelaar perhaps won’t offer the same type of dynamism and movement that we’ve seen from the Van Persie-Robben union (not to mention the exciting youngster Memphis Depay), it certainly looks full of goals.
Is Alvaro Morata Spain’s Answer?
Ever since Spain discovered that they can function pretty well without a striker en route to winning Euro 2012, the revolving door at the head of their team has churned out several names – not all of them all that convincing.
Diego Costa remains the best and most viable striking option for Vicente Del Bosque, but with the Chelsea striker’s body and commitment to the Spanish cause being questioned – not to mention an injury to Valencia’s five goals in three caps forward Paco Alcacer – an opportunity has presented itself for Juventus’s former Real Madrid forward Alvaro Morata.
It is an opportunity he’s taking too, with his first international goal proving to be the winner against Ukraine in Seville on Friday, and he’s likely to be pitched in from the start again in Amsterdam.
Daley Blind believes that the memories of the 5-1 World Cup loss – not to mention eight months of watching his glorious pass onto the head of Van Persie for THAT goal – will inspire Spain to put on a good show in the Dutch capital, and even though it will be doubtful just how many players who started that game will begin this one, the Manchester United man might just have a point when he speaks of their 'revenge feelings.'
With the Dutch now the team at a low ebb and Spain well into their recovery from last summer’s woes, a sort of symbolic hammering to exorcise a few demons might well be on the cards.
If that hammering does occur, though, it will still be interesting to see just which Spanish goalkeeper it is taking place in front of.
David De Gea is clearly the future of Spanish goalkeeping, and will eventually replace Iker Casillas in between the sticks for his national team (and perhaps for his club one too).
The only question is just when he’ll step in for a man nine years his senior, with a fourth cap here surely a just reward for stopper in the finest of form for his club, especially given Casillas's harrowing time of it against this same opposition last summer.