This is to tell you a bit about our first opponent, Spain.
Spain is a country in the south-west of ….of screw it!! You know who they are! Where they are! What they are! What they can do!
Hell, we taught them all they know… The likes of Michels, Cruyff, Beenhakker, Metgod, Hiddink, Neeskens, Koeman, Muller, Witschge, Cocu, De Boer, Afellay!!
The whole tiki-taka is a Dutch abbreviation of tik tak football. We say in Dutch “tik tak” if we mean pass and play. Tiki Taka is probably Cruyff’s way of explaining things in Spanish.
So Real Madrid was this powerhouse in the 50s and 60s and in the 1970s Barca tried to take the reign and for a long time they did very well in Europe with their clubs. Real, Barca, Sociedad, Valencia, Deportivo…. But the Spanish national team never really set the world on fire, like Uruguay, Hungary, England, Holland, Brazil and Germany did… They won the first European Championship in 1964 and repeated that consecutively in 2008 and 2012, which is quite good. But in World Cup terms, they were chokers. In 1982, they hosted the Cup but failed to impress under coach Santamaria. They were knocked out in the second round. They did fair much better in 1986 or 1994. In the 2002 World Cup, one could have expected Spain to beat South Korea but in a controversial match, South Korea beat the Spaniards on penalties.
Some people believe Luis Aragones was the inventor of tiki taka and it originated purely because in the mid naughties, Spain had a suspect defence. And the ball in possession in midfield strategy meant the defence would not be put under much pressure… We know better. Johan Cruyff and later Louis van Gaal will have done more for Spanish football than Aragones and the use of two former JC proteges as Barca coaches ( Rijkaard and Guardiola) will have added to this.
Historically, Spain always produced good players. Every generation had at least a number of above average lads although Barca and Real tended to find their star performers across the border. From Puskas and Di Stefano to Cruyff, Neeskens and Laudrup, to C Ronaldo and Bale to Messi and Neymar, but the Spanish squad currently is overflowing with talent and quality. The youngsters keep on going (not unlike the Dutch development) and this is probably the biggest issue coach Del Bosque has. Will he go for the more experienced lads that got him the two recent titles (2010 and 2012) or will he break down the existing hierarchy – like Van Gaal was forced to do – and select some young turks to keep the team fresh.
There is a risk in both scenarios and we will see what the man comes up with.
I think we will see Del Bosque play with Cesc as false striker. Iniesta and Villa from the flanks. I wouldn’t be surprised if Xavi starts on the bench, with Xabi Alonso centrally with Busquets and David Silva in midfield. A defence of Alba, Juanfran, Pique and Sergio Ramos. Although Javi Hernandez might get the nod over Pique. And I think Van Gaal will be playing 4-5-1 when Spain has possession and 4-1-4-1 in possession. I also believe we’ll see Clasie in our line up, as the little Xavi from Rotterdam has the feet to match the combination play in the tight spaces of Spain.
What can one say about this Spanish side. Oozing quality. Unbelievable quality. Mata, Corzola, Silva, Torres, Hernandez…just some names of players who might not even play. And then there is Michu and Isco who were left at home. To name a few players.
Spanish media have tried to create unrest in the Dutch team with stories of Oranje players living it up in the Rio night life. And claiming that Dirk Kuyt was actually involved in that. This rumour didn’t stick. If it was Depay, Fer and Wijnaldum one could have believed it but Kuyt and Robben would be the last players you’d expect to samba the night away :-). Van Gaal laughed it off.
Still, Holland’s golden triangle of Robben, Robin and Wes is seriously feared in Spain. And with reason.
I believe Holland will beat them with a shock 3-0 scoreline. Why? Because Spain is tired. And a little bit lacking desire. Real desire. Most of the players had a big season, with most even playing the CL finals. As C Ronaldo, Reus, Wellbeck and Van der Vaart can testify: the international football calendar is long. Spain doesn’t want to be put to the test this first game. They like to start a little bit relaxed. The big guns want to keep their powder dry. But Holland might only have 3 games to shine and Holland will be super ambitious and driven in that first game. Spain might see Holland as a nasty mosquito on their way to bigger game. While Holland will view the first game vs Spain as the finals!
So we will go out there and chase them all over the park from the first second and Spain won’t know what hurt them. I predict a goal in the first 20 minutes, with Arjen Robben being involved. I foresee a second goal before half time with Van Persie involved. And when Spain fights back with Costa in the second half, it will be a cool counter attack led by Sneijder allowing Oranje to finish Spain off! Just my feeling. And as I am the blog king here, I can delete this forecast during the game if things turn sour.
The ref is Italian. If I’m not mistaken, none of the Spanish players have a history in the Serie A. In the Dutch team, both Sneijder and De Jong have played in Italy and have encountered Rizzoli and speak the language. Could be a plus.