Football

Spain v Netherlands may not be among the best games at the World Cup

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As soon as the groups were drawn for the World Cup there was one particular fixture that stood out: a repeat of the 2010 final between Spain and the Netherlands.

The final itself was not particularly memorable, as a superior Spain side overcame a brutal spoiling game employed by the Dutch - led by the ruthless Nigel De Jong - to win 1-0 in extra time in what was ultimately a disappointing, almost dour affair.

Four years on and I fear that the return fixture may well follow suit. Neither team will want to lose this game - particularly with an impressive Chile side lying in wait to pounce - and so are unlikely to be going all-out attack. The priority for both sides is to avoid a loss and they will be focused on not conceding rather than scoring.

If one side does score, I would expect them simply to sit back on what they have, soak up the pressure and kill off the game. If we're lucky, we might see a second goal on the counter-attack late on. Effective yes, but hardly scintillating stuff.

That's why, in my opinion, this will not be among the best games of the tournament. I sincerely hope that I am wrong and am forced to eat my words, but unfortunately I do not see it that way.

Don't get me wrong. In terms of quality of players on the pitch, this will undoubtedly be up there - although the Netherlands are very much a different beast to the side of four years ago. Wesley Sneijder has gone off the boil, Robin van Persie is excellent but has struggled with fitness and there is a lack of world-class defenders.

The same can be said of Spain, to a lesser extent. Doubts have arisen over Iker Casillas' credentials between the sticks, Cesar Azpilicueta and Raul Albiol remain questionable at right-back, Carles Puyol's leadership will be missed at centre-back and Xavi no longer appears the force he was in the past. Nonetheless, they can both be considered strong sides.

I am much more excited about the prospect of Algeria vs South Korea. In a group containing Belgium and Russia, the duo face the likely prospect of an early trip home.

This fixture, then, could be their one chance to really earn some pride and as such they will go all out to get a win and leave on a high. 

It may even prove to be more than that - it could be a catalyst for a great upset. They will know that, if they win this fixture, they just need one result to go their way and they could be into the next round.

Furthermore, it is a great opportunity for players from smaller nations to strut their stuff in an attempt to catch the eye of bigger clubs. They will do anything possible to make sure they're remembered in a positive light.

The same could probably be said of Greece vs Japan and other fixtures that may arise as the tournament progresses.

What I am trying to say is that the blockbuster, headline-grabbing fixtures are not necessarily the most entertaining.

Before you dismiss these supposedly smaller fixtures and decide to do something else with your time, just consider that, although the standard may not be the best, these could be the games that make this World Cup special.

And who knows, Ji Dong-Won might produce the next Diego Maradona moment....

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Topics:
World Cup
Spain Football
Football

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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