At 8 pm today, The defending world champions will go against last time’s runners up in the first match of group B of the world cup. But things are not exactly what they were the last time these two great teams squared off against each other. Four years ago when la Furia Roja and les Orange clashed in soccer city for the final of the FIFA world cup, there was little doubt in anyone’s mind that these were the best two footballing national teams in the world. Spain boasted of a collection of Barcelona and Real Madrid stars that were of top of their game and the Dutch team was a testament to genuine tough tackling defense, a hardworking and a sublime attack. There was precious little to choose between both sides over 120 minutes as Andreas Iniesta’s strike deep into extra time was the sole goal of an exciting game that decided the world cup. Four years later and almost the same sets of players that did battle in Johannesburg and were at their peak at the time, will go to battle four years older, with granted more experience but a few steps slower.
The world and European champions and Confederations Cup runners up boast of quality in every department from central defence to attack. A country that couldn’t find space Alvaro Negredo, Mikel Arteta and the likes in it’s world cup contingent should not be taken lightly. However, the present squad while consisting of immense talent has major flaws. Casillas is not the wonder shot stopper he was four years ago and while De Gea and Reina were outstanding last season, neither has international tournament experience. While Pique and Ramos will be wonderful at center back, both players have a tendency to attack at the peril of the defense and that was terribly exposed to the world at the confederations cup. the midfield is quite loaded with the talent of Juan Mata and David Silva, but both players didn’t finish last season strongly and same can be said for the newly signed Chelsea man, Fabregas. While it will be unfair to say he has lost it, Xavi has aged considerably in the past two years and while he can still pass the ball with surgical precision, his body fails him more often than not. The attack isn’t fairing any better as Torres is still goal shy and Pedro’s deep in form has caused widespread concern in Catalonia. Diego Costa was immense for Atletico Madrid last season but he is yet to reproduce that quality at the international level.
This dutch team isn’t what it was four years ago. Van der Saar has retired and while Tm Krul, Michel Vorm and Jasper Cillessen are all good players, they are not in the same class as “the flying Dutchman”. Simply put there is no stand out quality in the defence of Les Orange I mean, none of them played in the semi-finals of the |Champions’ League, need I say more? in the midfield, Sneijder, Nigel De Jong and Robben have considerably aged since 2010 and De Guzman, Fer and Wijnaldum are simply not world class footballers. Klass Jan Huntelaar suffered a drop in form last season and while Robin Van Persie is still a world class center foward, his injury problems seem to be haunting him again as if he is fit enough to play he will not be a hundred percent against Espana.
While this match promises to be a cracker, it simply doesn’t have the quality of players it boasted last time out and it doesn’t have the competitive edge it had in 2010. in more ways than one, this is not a replay of the 2010 world cup final.
hope you enjoy the game.