Less than a year on from an incredible 5-1 humbling at last year’s World Cup, Spain will be out for revenge when they take on the Netherlands in a friendly in Amsterdam on Tuesday. That instantly famous defeat set the mood for Spain’s disastrous defense of their trophy, as they crashed out at the first hurdle. And defender Juan Bernat had no hesitation in admitting that the chance to gain a small measure of atonement for that loss in Brazil is a major motivation heading into Tuesday’s heavyweight fixture.
“We all know that after that type of game, there is always a hunger for revenge,” the Bayern Munich player said, according to ESPN. “Football always gives you a second opportunity and there's a lot of determination to avenge that loss.”
Despite their World Cup, travails, Spain opted to stick with coach Vicente del Bosque while blooding a new generation of talent. So far the evolution has not been a seamless one. A 2-1 defeat in Slovakia last October means Spain still trail in second place in their qualifying group for next year’s European Championship. While they beat Ukraine 1-0 on Friday with a first every goal for the senior team for Alvaro Morata, Del Bosque conceded that Spain’s second-half performance “left a bad taste in his mouth.” Still, the man who led Spain to glory in the 2010 World Cup, when beating the Netherlands in the final, and at Euro 2012, believes talk of their travails have been overplayed.
“We’ll be playing an attractive game and hope to be at the same level as our opponents,” he said, reports Spanish sports daily AS. “Holland have ended up on the podium in the last two World Cup finals while Spain, who dominated world football during the past few years seem to have suffered a dip during the past few months. During that slump we have scored 14 goals and conceded just three. We’ve been through four qualifying rounds, 31 games with a balance of 28 wins, two draws and only one defeat. I don’t that’s too bad.”
While the road has been a little rocky for Spain, it has reached near crisis point for the Netherlands. After the departure of Manchester United-bound Louis van Gaal, Guus Hiddink’s second spell in charge of his country has thus far featured defeats against the Czech Republic and Iceland in qualification for Euro 2016. And only a strike from Wesley Sneijder that deflected in off the head of Klaas-Jan Huntelaar saved the Netherlands from a home defeat to Turkey, which would have seen them fall out even of a playoff place and leave Hiddink’s job in serious peril. Even so they remain five points behind Iceland in second place. Taking a break from the pressure of qualification, Hiddink insists that little should be read into the result of Tuesday’s friendly.
“We’re really pleased to be able to play friendly matches against some of the best teams in Europe, especially in the time of euro 2016 qualification,” he said in his press conference. “It could benefit out players who don’t have international experience. We have to see this upcoming match separately from our game in qualification, the result of this match is not important.”