Spain to beat Netherlands, predicts Baichung Bhutia

Last Updated: Jun 14, 2014, 01:54 AM IST

Aditi Tyagi

As defending champions Spain take on Netherlands in a crucial Group B encounter in the FIFA World Cup, former India skipper Baichung Bhutia gives his take on the possible outcome. In an exclusive chat with Aditi Tyagi of Zee Media, Baichung Bhutia spoke about the big match in Group B between defending champions Spain and last year`s losing finalists Netherlands.

Excerpts from the conversation:

Spain vs Netherlands is a repeat of last year`s final. Can it get better at the group stage?

Yes, it is the biggest match in the group stages. When the two teams met last year, it was more of physical match and the Dutch were not able to play their brand of football. But I`m expecting this match to be different and think it will be a lot more free-flowing than the final of last year.

What do you expect in terms of combination from both the teams?

Well, Spain as we all know will set up to play their famed tiki-taka football. They will play a 4-3-2-1 that will enable them to play a lot of short passes. Their mid-field is very strong, which allows their full-backs to overlap.

Netherlands will play Robin van Persie as the solo striker up top. They will focus more to be rock solid at the back and hit Spain on the counter-attack by using the pace of Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie.

How do both the defenses compare with one another?

I feel the quality of both the teams in terms of their defense is similar. Where Spain stand out is in the middle of the park. They have some of the best players in that position and the Dutch can`t compete with them there. The only weakness from Spain is up front as Diego Costa is struggling with injury.

Speaking of Diego Costa, will it be an emotional occasion for him as he is Brazilian by birth?

Yes that`s true. He is born in Brazil but holds a Spanish passport. There was a lot of controversy when he decided to represent Spain. Bit I think it was a good decision as he would have found it very difficult to make it into the Brazil team.

What are you predictions for this big game?

Well, I feel Spain are the favorites to win this match. They will wither win 2-1 or 1-0. The margin of the victory will be just one goal though.