In a rematch of the 2010 World Cup Final in South Africa, Spain and The Netherlands meet in Group B action in Salvador, Brazil. Spain earned their first World Cup title after an extra-session strike from playmaker Andres Iniesta in the 116th minute.
The starting forwards are the key storylines of both teams' opening match of group play.
Spain, who once again are expected to go deep in the World Cup, enter the match with Atletico Madrid star Diego Costa battling a hamstring injury. Legendary head coach Vicente del Bosque is expected to start either Fernando Torres or the newest NYCFC addition David Villa at forward.
The Netherlands enter the match in what figures to be the last World Cup tournament for star striker Robin van Persie. The Manchester United forward turns 31 in August, and will be called upon to anchor a veteran contingent of forwards who are all over the age of 26.
Both team are weaker in defense from 2010. Spain will be without long-time center back Carles Puyol. The Netherlands have major question marks in defense. The Oranje no longer have the services of Giovanni van Bronckhorst, and have an inexperienced unit.
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The match marks the 11th time the two sides have met in the World Cup. Spain hold the 5-4-1 advantage. They have outscored The Netherlands, 16 to 11.
"Luis," a turtle at the Dutch embassy in Brasilia, picked Spain to defeat The Netherlands. "Luis the Turtle" is the new "Paul the Octopus."
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