Spanish football expert Dermot Corrigan takes on his Dutch counterpart Mohamed Moallim in this Expert v Expert showdown...
Dermot Corrigan on Spain: Coach Vicente Del Bosque’s biggest poser is whether to start a traditional centre-forward [Diego Costa] or to play a ‘false-nine’ [new Chelsea man Cesc Fabregas or David Silva]. There’s also Pedro Rodriguez or Silva for the right wing, and Juanfran Torres or Cesar Azpilicueta at right-back. Jordi Alba has had blister and wisdom tooth problems but will start at left-back. Fernando Torres, David Villa and Koke look set for the bench.
Mohamed Moallim on Holland: Louis van Gaal switched from 4-3-3 to 5-3-2 – designed as a means to balance the defensive and attacking sides of their game supplemented by wing-backs (Daryl Janmaat and Daley Blind). Jonathan de Guzmán is expected to partner Nigel de Jong in midfield which means Jordy Clasie starts on the bench. Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie will lead the line supported by number ten Wesley Sneijder.
Dermot Corrigan on Spain: They only played two warm-up friendlies - against Bolivia and El Salvador - but Spain easily won both 2-0. Given the relatively weak opposition, it was difficult to draw too many conclusions, but Villa, Silva, Koke and Andres Iniesta were among the players to look particularly sharp. First game in major tournaments form is not so good - with slow starts at both World Cup 2010 [losing 1-0 to Switzerland] and Euro 2012 [1-1 with Italy]. Del Bosque has, however, been underlining the importance of hitting the ground running, as he really wants to top the group and avoid a potential last 16 meeting with hosts and tournament favourites Brazil.
Mohamed Moallim on Holland: In their last warm-up game versus Wales, Van Gaal opted for a 4-4-2 diamond – a test run for their second World Cup game against Australia (subsequently hinting post-match they could revert back to 4-3-3) – despite a 2-0 victory there wasn't too much to shout about. It's been the case: little for Dutch supporters to be excited about, in each warm-up friendly. The worry is a lack of guile and creativity in midfield – bar Sneijder – a fragile defence inexperienced at the elite level, and too much resting on the shoulders of golden duo Van Persie and Robben.
WHAT THE MANAGERS SAY:
Vicente Del Bosque on Spain: “Playing a reference forward up top is different from having a player who moves more between the lines. But both systems have worked well for us.”
Louis Van Gaal on Holland: "We have no choice but to play a five-man defence against Spain. We want to limit their space, because they have a lot of quality".
Dermot Corrigan on Spain: With Xavi Hernandez now 34 and likely to be used sparingly during the tournament, Andres Iniesta looks set to take on more of a playmaking role in the team. Iniesta also scored a rare goal from outside the area recently against Bolivia, and generally looks to be coming into form just at the right moment after an up and down season with Barcelona.
Mohamed Moallim on Holland: Robben is still the spark in this current Dutch side; an individual that can produce a piece of brilliance from nothing (often courtesy of his trademark cutting inside from the right) he more than anyone will want to put things right against Spain, his one-on-one with Iker Casillas being a pivotal moment in the 2010 final, at his optimum – a defenders nightmare, up there with the best. Oranje are a different proposition with him.
Dermot Corrigan on Spain: In form Sergio Ramos, who scored six goals in the last seven games of the club season, looks tremendous value to score first at 18.00
Mohamed Moallim on Holland: Since being handed the captains armband, last June, Van Persie has started to translate his club form for the Dutch: nine goals in 11 games (in the process becoming his country's all-time top international goalscorer). He will, inevitably, be the main Dutch attacking threat and I like the is odds of 4.35 for him to score anytime.
Dermot Corrigan: Spain 1-0 Netherlands at odds of 5.60
Mohamed Moallim: Spain 2-1 Netherlands at odds of 9.00
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