2014 WORLD CUP SOCCER
Kickoff: Friday, 3:00 p.m. EDT
Arena Fonte Nova – Salvador, Brazil
Spain -129, Netherlands +300, Tie +250
Over/Under: 2.5 Goals (Over +145, Under -175)
Group B play of the 2014 World Cup begins on Friday afternoon when Spain begins its defense of its 2010 World Cup title against the Netherlands, the team that fell one goal short of a World Cup four years ago.
Tipping world and double-European champions Spain to fail in Brazil has been all the rage since last year’s 0-3 Confederations Cup final loss to the hosts. However, their place as fourth favorites to win the World Cup again suggests that the bookies aren’t fully convinced that their era is over.
Vicente del Bosque's options have increased since La Roja's Euro 2012 victory, with defender Cesar Azpilicueta, midfielder Koke and Brazil-born striker Diego Costa barging their way into the coach's first-team thoughts. That emerging trio complements an uber-experienced core roster of winners who will not relinquish their hard-fought crown without a fight, and the mustachioed manager will be eager to avoid a repeat of Spain's 1-0 win over the Netherlands in the championship game in South Africa four years ago.
The Netherlands will draw inspiration from Switzerland's 1-0 defeat of Del Bosque's side in their opening fixture at World Cup 2010, but that was against a far less-medaled Spanish outfit with a heavy weight of expectation that they would fall short again on their shoulders.
Louis van Gaal's Oranje breezed through a particularly poor European qualifying Group D and have looked disconcertingly ordinary in several friendlies since, losing 2-0 to France and drawing against Colombia and Japan. They made the 2010 final in Johannesburg, losing 1-0 to Spain after extra-time, but their dreadful, pointless campaign at Euro 2012 indicated that the aging generation of Dutchmen are in decline, with the younger stars not yet of the desired level, making SPAIN a must-back for an opening-fixture handicap win.