Spain Coach Del Bosque predicted Netherlands rematch in World Cup
MADRID - Agence France-Presse
Spain's coach Vicente del Bosque holds the World Cup trophy won by Spain in the South Africa 2010 FIFA tournament during the final draw of the Brazil 2014 FIFA World Cup, Dec. 6. AFP photoSpain manager Vicente del Bosque said he predicted his side would be drawn against Netherlands in the draw for next year's World Cup on Dec. 6.
La Roja begin the defence of their title against the Dutch in Salvador on June 13 before facing Chile and Australia.
Del Bosque's side beat the Netherlands to win the World Cup for the first time in 2010 thanks to Andres Iniesta's extra-time winner.
Louis Van Gaal's men will have an early opportunity for revenge and despite a significant change in personnel over the last four years, Del Bosque is still wary of the Netherlands' star-studded frontline.
"I said his morning we were going to get the Netherlands and we did, in the first game no less," he told Spanish TV station Cuatro.
"Holland have changed a little bit, especially in the middle of the park, but they still have (Arjen) Robben, (Robin) Van Persie, (Rafael) Van der Vaart and (Wesley) Sneijder." Despite eventually going onto win the tournament, Spain lost their opening game to Switzerland in South Africa in 2010.
And Del Bosque is hoping such a demanding opening fixture will ensure there is no such complacency amongst his side this time round.
"I think it is good for our mentality that we have to prepare from the first day. The Netherlands will demand that we start at our highest level.
"Everything depends not just on our opponents, but on ourselves and the way we mentally approach this competition." The former Real Madrid boss had also previously stated his preference to avoid Chile.
Spain also beat the South Americans 2-1 in South Africa in their final group game, but had to rely on a last minute equaliser from Jesus Navas to salvage a 2-2 when they most recently met in a friendly back in September.
"They make the game very uncomfortable for the opponents. They have had the same style of play for a few years now.
"They have expert players and are very physical. We know they will be a very difficult team to face.
"Australia are a little less well known, but they have qualified from the Asian groups and I imagine they also have good players." The draw could get even worse for Spain should they finish second in the group with competition favourites Brazil expected to be waiting in the last 16.
And Del Bosque stressed the importance of trying to avoid the hosts with Spain's 3-0 thrashing to Brazil in the June's Confederations Cup final still fresh in the memory.
"I imagine that Brazil will finish first and so we have to give everything to make sure we win our group too." The one piece of good news for Del Bosque comes in where their matches will be played with just the clash with Holland to take place in the heat and humidity of the north-eastern Brazil.
Spain will then face Chile in Rio de Janeiro before finishing the group further south in Curitiba, where they also plan to be based throughout the duration of their stay.
"We start here in Salvador then as we go down it will get colder in Rio and then in Curitiba, which is where our base will be. We just have to adapt, we don't have any other option." Meanwhile, goalkeeper Pepe Reina accepted La Roja faced a tough path to retain their title, but insisted they have nothing to be afraid of.
"It is a difficult group, but those that are worried right now are the Netherlands, Chile and Australia," he told radio station COPE.
"Victimising ourselves doesn't help anyone, especially when we are the reigning champions. We will face it with a great desire and excitement to compete."