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In 2010, it took 116 minutes before Andrés Iniesta scored the first and only goal of the match to give Spain their first World Cup Title, and make The Netherlands the runners-up for the third time.
Friday, we are getting a rematch of that painstakingly close game played in South Africa four years ago. Spain and The Netherlands have been drawn together in Group B, along with Chile and Australia.
Spain, still considered to be one of the best teams in the tournament, will start their quest of winning their fourth straight major tournament in a row, after having won the last two Euro Cups and the last World Cup. The Netherlands, who were very disappointing in Euro 2012, having lost all three matches, will be trying to prove that they are still a world class squad.
Neither team is expected to do as well as they did in 2010 because of aging rosters. However, Spain’s age was a topic of discussion in Euro 2012, and they responded by winning the tournament in dominating fashion, defeating Italy 4-0 in the final. As for The Netherlands, they are coming off a very impressive qualifying campaign, winning their group by a comfortable nine points.
Despite the Wall Street Journal’s disappointment that these aren’t the same two teams that faced each other four years ago, this is still one of the best games of the group stage. Few countries will ever have the amount of talent that Spain currently possesses. And The Netherlands are still one of the most entertaining teams in the world, scoring 34 goals during World Cup qualifiers in Europe, second only to Germany.
Both teams feature some of the world’s most exciting players. Robin van Persie scored 12 times in 21 Premier League matches for Manchester United this season, and Arjen Robben of Bayern Munich was ranked the ninth best player in the World Cup by ESPNFC.
For Spain, their coach Vicente del Bosque will have the same familiar problem, only being able to choose 11 out of 23 world class players to start.
This is a crucial game for both teams; a loss could be devastating to their hopes of making it out of the group, as Chile is expected to perform well in Brazil as well. Australia, the fourth team in the group, will be looking to be this year’s Cinderella story.
The rematch of last year’s World Cup Final kicks off tomorrow at 3 p.m.