12 June 2014 | News Comments

Spain confident they have the winning formula

World champions Spain are confident they can defend football's greatest prize using a six-year-old blueprint.

Andres Iniesta's extra-time goal at Soccer City in July 2010 denied the Netherlands victory in the World Cup final and meant that Spain followed up their triumph at Euro 2008 with ascension to the top of the world game.

Coach Vicente del Bosque went on to deliver a third trophy in 2012 as Spain trounced Italy to clinch the European title once again, this time in Kiev.

The 63-year-old's latest assignment demands he guides La Roja to a successful defence of the trophy they won in South Africa with a group of players labelled by some critics as "veterans".

But speaking ahead of Friday's showdown with Holland in Salvador, Del Bosque rejected that tag, insisting the 23 men he has taken to Brazil represent a potent blend of maturity and fearless promise.

"The World Cup starts now,” Del Bosque said. “If we can concentrate throughout 21 days then hopefully we will live up to the standards required of a world champion.

"I won't reveal tomorrow's line-up. We will use the players who we think are the best - but we do have 23 very good players.

"I don't think this is a team of veterans, I'd say we're mature. We're simply not afraid of anything and that's not just because of our past successes.

"I'm not worried about the future either. Looking at the Under-21 team I think we can have high expectations.

"Holland have changed a lot over the last four years, but we have not.

"Holland have a great school of football and have always had good World Cups. They are worthy rivals.

"I hold [coach Louis] Van Gaal in high esteem and I'm sure he's prepared well for the game."

"I'm not worried about the future either. Looking at the Under-21 team I think we can have high expectations" - Vincente del Bosque

Spain must later face Chile and Australia in Group B and Barcelona midfielder Xavi admitted he would have readily coped without dancing around the physicality of the Dutch in the opening fixture.

"We arrived here with a lot of enthusiasm even though we know the group will be very difficult," he said.

"Starting off against the previous runners-up is not easy.

"But we got here by remaining faithful to our style and so it will continue. Hopefully our style of play will bring us more success."

Meanwhile, goalkeeper Iker Casillas, who is preparing to play in his third World Cup with Spain, has identified Bayern Munich winger Arjen Robben as Holland's main threat.

The pair played together at Real Madrid for three years and were most recently pitted against each other as the Spaniards met Bayern in the semi-finals of the Champions League.

"Robben is a great winger," Casillas said. "I've known him since we were team-mates and I've come up against him several times since. He's great.

"If we show the humility and enthusiasm we have over recent years then we'll be able to do well."