(Photo: Reuters/Miro Kuzmanovic)
Spain vs Netherlands takes place in World Cup 2014 Group B on Friday in one of the most mouthwatering ties of the group stages. Today's game will be a repeat of the World Cup 2010 Final, which was an explosive affair, and of course was won by Spain in extra time just minutes from penalties. Both teams will want to make a statement in this opening game and will know how important it is to get their campaigns off to a good start. The action will get started at 3 p.m. ET, with the game available to watch on TV on the ESPN network.
Four years ago these two teams made history during their physical encounter; the game went down as the most undisciplined in World Cup history, with the most amount of yellow cards ever in a single game (nine for Holland, and five for Spain).
Today's game is unlikely to be as bad as that, but still, fans can expect a physical encounter with no love lost between the two teams.
Spain come into the tournament as reigning World Champions, and two-time European champions. They also were able to come through their qualifying campaign unscathed and undefeated, winning six and drawing two of their eight games in a group that included fellow European giants France.
They will be looking to make a statement in this tournament, with some critics claiming they are an ageing set of players now and not looking as dominant as they have over the last decade.
Critics point to how Spain was demolished by Brazil when they played them in Brazil during last year's Confederations Cup Final. That result made Brazil favorites in many people's eyes, but it would take a brave person to completely write off Spain. They are the reigning champions and expect them to go all out to defend their title.
That said no European team has ever won the World Cup in South America, so Spain would have to move into unchartered territory to do so.
Holland meanwhile will want revenge for the defeat in the 2010 World Cup Final. They had a terrible Euro 2012 campaign, not evening earning a point as they crashed out at the group stages. However, in qualifying for this year's World Cup they scored an amazing 34 goals in their 10 games, winning nine and drawing one.
This should be a fantastic game that neither team will want to lose.
Spain vs Netherlands will kick off at 3 p.m. ET with the game available to watch on TV on the ESPN network.