By DAN KARELL
Spain’s journey to repeat as World Cup champions begins on Friday against their opponents from the last World Cup final – the Netherlands.
It’s the first time in World Cup history that the two finalists from the last World Cup have met in the next tournament’s group stage, and as the third match of the World Cup it’s an early must-see match. One of the beauties of this Group B match at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador will be how differently the two teams play and where they are in their development.
Spain is reaching the end of its golden era, which began with winning the 2008 European Championships. Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, Xabi Alonso, David Villa, Iker Casillas, and Fernando Torres are all 30 years old or older, meaning they have little time to spare if they want to win their second World Cup title.
Combined with a number of talented players in their prime such as Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas, Sergio Ramos, and Juan Mata, Spain hopes that their short-passing style and total possession soccer can deliver one more trophy to Iberia.
On the other side, the Netherlands is a team in transition, with veterans in midfield and up top but a very young defense, with an average age of just over 24 years old. Head coach Louis Van Gaal has ultimately decided to go with a 5-3-2 formation, with wing backs Daryl Janmaat and Daley Blind expected to bomb up and down the sidelines, and central midfielder Wesley Sneijder expected to pick them out for them to cross into the middle.
Arjen Robben, normally a winger, is now being asked to play in a striker’s role alongside Robin Van Persie, a move that could either fail spectacularly or succeed if Robben and Van Persie develop an understanding.
MEXICO VS. CAMEROON
Also on Friday Mexico takes on Cameroon at the Estádio das Dunas in Natal.
Like the USA, Mexico faces a must-win first game against an African power that has plenty of World Cup experience. Mexico, with an awful World Cup qualifying campaign, has somewhat stabilized in recent months but has yet to put a complete 90 minutes together in warm-up friendly matches.
El Tri boss Miguel Herrera has already picked his starting lineup for the game, which will feature Guillermo “Memo” Ochoa in goal, Rafa Marquez in the middle of a three-man back line, Andres Guardado playing as a central midfielder, and Giovani Dos Santos playing up-top with Oribe Peralta. Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez starts off on the bench as he struggles with his confidence.
Mexico looks at this game as a must-win because of its next opponent, Brazil. While nothing is played on paper, a loss or draw to Cameroon and a loss to Brazil could virtually eliminate El Tri after just two games in the tournament.
Cameroon is led by former Chelsea and Barcelona forward Samuel Eto’o, who has been an inspiration to the national team, according to midfielder Eyong Enoh. The Indomitable Lions feature a squad with a number of players playing in Spain and France, and will provide a huge test to El Tri.
CHILE VS. AUSTRALIA
Chile faces Australia at the Arena Pantanal in Cuiabá as the final match of the day.
Heading into the final match of the day, Chile is hoping that do-it-all midfielder Arturo Vidal will be fit enough to face Australia. Vidal underwent a meniscus operation in May and has been recovering from it ever since. Chile head coach Jorge Sampaoli said at a press conference that the medical staff had done a great job to heal Vidal, but it remains to be seen whether he starts against the Socceroos.
Not many people are giving Australia a chance to come away with any points in this tournament, but Socceroos captain Tim Cahill will have something to say about that. Australia’s leading goal-scorer has a remarkable ability to motivate his teammates in any setting. Expect Australia to try and play with Chile, even if it leads to their eventual downfall.
What do you think of today’s slate? Which games are you looking forward to most? Think that Spain can beat the Netherlands? What about El Tri’s chances in Natal?
Share your thoughts below.
Folks, Univision has a LEGAL stream for all games until the quarterfinals. It is in Spanish, but the feed isn’t bad quality.
Why was FIFA complaining about Natal again? This stadium looks amazing!!
Also, a question. I am only able to watch content labeled “ESPN3” on watchespn online – so the only match not available to me today is Spain-Netherlands. Do you know if this game and the other ESPN only games on Watchespn are archived and available to everyone later? (like the ESPN3 ones are)
[Sorry if this is confusing!]
You can watch it live if you go to http://www.cbc.ca/ if it gives you the “this game is not available in you region” message use the hola add on available on google chrome to get around that.
thanks, might try that
Aren’t ESPN3 and WatchESPN the same thing? All games should be available to watch.
Not necessarily. WatchESPN is online streaming of the TV networks, while ESPN3 are the games relegated to only online viewing. At least something like that.
yeah, they are all available, but are locked if you don’t have the right cable package. I have comcast internet but no tv, so only the watchespn content labeled “ESPN3” is unlocked for me.
That penalty was never a penalty. I won’t say the match was fixed, but the game defiantly got into the head of the head ref. He wanted to be a hero last night. I hope he’s banned from the tournament. It was a game changer on so many levels.
Defiantly? I know that’s a typo, but is like the psychiatric implications of it. “The ref tried to put the importance of the game out of his mind and cruise through the match with a Zenlike efficiency, ignoring its importance to the home-country fans. But the game got stuck there and defied him to be impartial.”
“I” like, not “is.”
Apparently, Louis Van Gaal has admitted that Man U is a distraction for him, but a “good distraction.” Ok then.
I hope Mexico poops in their shorts, then finishes last in their group, CONCACAF be damned…..
Will not root for Mexico. Don’t care if they are CONCACAF.
Can you do this from now on so I don’t have to look everything up elsewhere?: “…and as the third match of the World Cup it’s an early must-see match. (3PM ET ESPN)” THANKS
Yo how do we watch the games online?
Same network that broadcasts it shows it online
If you don’t have WatchESPN, check out the Univision dot com website. I believe they stream games for free (in Spanish).
I’d love to see Marquez score a hat-trick…
A hat-trick of own-goals…
Followed by a red card for kicking the referee in the balls.
if Marquez was not on the team it would be easier for me to root for CONCACAF in this one, but no way with him out there
Grew up watching the Mexico 98′ team and respected their guts because they took the game to whoever they played. Buut… I never liked their rude supporters, so I chose the US instead as a kid. It was the underdog charm that swayed me.
Do you think there any Mexico fans supporting the USMNT out of concacaf solidarity? Nope, neither do I.
After yesterday, I am rooting for Croatia and Cameroon in this group. Mexico last place.
I think there are Mexico fans that will root for the US, but I agree its probably a small minority. You seem to post a lot of negative stuff; maybe if you tried to not see everything as one way or the other with no middle ground you would be more positive and probably be happier 🙂 (my free advice, which I’m sure is worth every penny…)
On a side note, have you noticed how “Landon Klinsmann” has apparently disappeared from the site after Donovan was cut? His whole purpose for posting seemed to be to predict that Donovan would be cut. As ludicrous as it sounded, and as ludicrous of a decision that it was based on Klinsmann’s explanation considering Donovan is clearly better than several players on the roster at the positions they play, he turned out to be right. I wonder who he was and if he had some inside knowledge…
By the way, I agree with you that Expat posts on here everyday …
Good luck to US against Ghana!!
Thanks for your advice but I’ll post whatever I like thanks. If you don’t like it you’re free to ignore it.
I was kidding (smiley face). Your posts don’t bother me at all, and if they did, like you said, I would stop reading them.
A bunch of Mexican-Americans root for both. When the Gold cup was at Dallas, when US played Honduras there were tons of folks in blue and white. But when Mexico played Panama, they swapped shirts and put on the green. It was very telling. Now I’m sure when it is US v Mex then they were rooting for Mex
I saw the same thing. A lot of Mexicans here in the U.S. support both teams
I was at the 2007 Gold Cup semis in Soldier Field. The USA beat Canada before the Mexico game. I can tell you that a majority of the Mexican fans were cheering for the USA. Some even had USA & Mexico gear on.
It could be that they just wanted us in the final, but I also think we underestimate the support the Mexicans in the USA have for our team, provided they’re not playing one another.
It’s an interesting dynamic. They (Mexicans) support their home country. A lot of Americans get upset that they don’t support the U.S. but fail to understand that a lot of them are not U.S. citizens. However, I do think they are grateful for what the U.S. has provided them. There is also the fact that soccer is one of the sports that they are good at and historically the U.S. has not been good at (So the fact that we are now giving them trouble stings a bit). The ones that are U.S. citizens most of the time cheer for both Mexico and United States. Trust me I’m married to a dual national (U.S./Mexican) and it is very interesting to see the rooting interests throughout her family 🙂
Don’t exactly expect to see Daryl Janmaat and Daley Blind “bombing” down any sidelines anytime soon. Not the pacey-ist of pairs in the World Cup.
I’m torn about rooting for Mexico. I want co concacaf to do well but I don’t want Mexico to do better than the US.
My picks for the day Mexico, Spain and Chile. Although I think Mexico may loose I got to support the concacaf.
Mexico should win today, but I think it will be the only points they get in the group.
Cameroon, as usual, have so many internal problems I can’t see them getting out of their group. Saying that, I think they’re talented enough to tie Mexico. My money is on Croatia getting out.
Spain and Chile are the obvious wins for me too.
I think Mexico will be tight.