Dutch seek revenge vs. Spain in rematch

Spain's Andres Iniesta scores the winning goal during the 2010 World Cup final. (Luca Bruno/AP)
June 13, 2014, 9:21 AM

Day Two of the 2014 FIFA World Cup is headlined by a tasty encounter as Spain and the Netherlands square off in a rematch of the 2010 final.

Mexico and Cameroon battle each other in the final Group A match of the opening round, while Chile faces Australia in the third and final game on Friday.

Here are three things to watch.


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Is Mexico’s defence its Achilles heel?

The Mexicans barely qualified for the World Cup, but with former Club America manager Miguel Herrera at the helm, it’s a new beginning for El Tri.

The midfield and attack is loaded with flair, and speed as always, but their weakest area seems to be the defence. Cameroon is lethal on the counter. Mexico will try to control possession and with Herrera most likely going with a three-man defence, the flanks will be open and the centre-backs will be pushed high up the pitch.

Cameroon showed that they’re dangerous going forward against Germany in one of their World Cup tune-ups. Aging defender Rafael Marquez’s lack of pace could be a problem against Samuel Eto’o, Eric Choupo-Moting, and Vincent Aboubakar.

The projected backline of Marquez, Francisco Rodriguez and Hector Moreno may have their hands full.

Who will lead the line for Spain?

The defending world and European champions still have one of the best midfields in the World Cup, but one big question looms for manager Vicente del Bosque: Who to start up front?

Fernando Torres has been called upon several times, even when he was in poor form. The Chelsea striker won the Golden Boot at Euro 2012 with three goals, but that was thanks in large part to a brace against Ireland in the group stage.

David Villa earned a surprise call-up, even though he’s been battling injuries for the last couple of years. Villa accepted a lesser role at Atletico Madrid this season, which he was pleased to do. On the other hand, that may not impress Del Bosque enough to warrant a start in arguably the biggest match of the group stage.

Then, of course, there’s Diego Costa. The Brazilian-turned-Spaniard was the joint-second top goal scorer in La Liga, level with Lionel Messi on 28 goals and three back of Cristiano Ronaldo. However, Costa’s fitness remains an issue due to a hamstring injury he suffered last month.

The other question is how the 25-year-old fits into the Spanish system. He’s used to a direct, high-paced, counter-pressing style with Atletico. If Costa starts, it’ll be a significant change for him.

The more likely scenario is Del Bosque using a “false nine,” much like he did at Euro 2012. Cesc Fabregas was slotted into that position during the tournament, and he’ll most likely be there again with two of Pedro, David Silva and Andres Iniesta supporting him out wide and in behind.

Chile’s counter-attack

Chile are considered a dark horse at the World Cup due to the talent they boast in attack and their speedy counter which can open up any back line in the competition.

Barcelona’s Alexis Sanchez, is the focal point. Juventus’ Arturo Vidal and Mauricio Isla will also be key going forward, not to mention the electric Eduardo Vargas who’ll likely partner Sanchez up front.

The South Americans play Australia, who everyone expects to be demolished in Group B.

If Chile fails to impress against the Socceroos, their backs will be against the wall as they’ll have to play the Spanish and Dutch to close out their group stage games. That pace has to be utilized against the Aussies and that has to result in a victory or else doubt will creep into the Chilean camp.

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