World champions Spain have the ability to vary their trademark possession football if their World Cup Group B opponents pack their defences, according to coach Vicente del Bosque.
Spain start their bid to retain the trophy on Friday against the Netherlands, who they beat in the final four years ago in South Africa when the Dutch used a physical approach under Bert van Marwijk to try and unsettle them.
The Netherlands are now coached by Louis van Gaal, whose philosophy continues the Dutch traditions of ‘Total Football’, but even he has admitted he will look to bolster their defence against Spain by playing five a the back.
“Possession without having depth doesn’t have any point,” Del Bosque told Marca. “For that reason we are working so that the team can pressure to win back possession and then as a group attack.
“One thing first, football is played in many different ways and there isn’t just one. We don’t have a magic formula, we have a plan based on the players that we have available. That doesn’t mean there aren’t others who are just as good and get results.”
Del Bosque said he was not concerned if Spain’s group rivals, who also include Chile and Australia in their group, choose to sit back.
“It’s fine if they do. It suits us best being patient and looking for the gaps against teams that are defensive rather than being in games that are end-to-end and out of control,” he said.
Spain are enjoying a golden period, having also won the European Championship in 2008 and 2012, but are back in Brazil where they lost the Confederations Cup final last year against the home nation and had to face stadiums with hostile crowds.
“It is true that they whistled us in the stadiums but I think that there is a lot of respect with this as they see us as a dangerous threat,” said Del Bosque.
“We will go out and do our best. We first face Holland who are a well-organised side, well coached and I am sure that they will cause us a lot of problems. We now have nine or 10 places decided in the team and just have a couple of doubts.”
The Netherlands will be led in attack by Robin van Persie, who has struggled for fitness this season with Manchester United but now says he is fine to play.
“I am improving and I am in good form. Basically for six years I have had one problem or another but I am used to that,” the striker told a news conference in Rio de Janeiro.
“We are not used to so much heat and humidity but we are ready and acclimatising well.”
Australia are the weakest side in the group but Chile are strong opponents who play quick, attacking football inspired by Barcelona forward Alexis Sanchez.
There is concern, though, over the fitness of midfielder Arturo Vidal who has a knee injury and is a doubt for their first group match against Australia on Friday.
“Chile have a clear style of play and we are going to give our all. We will play on the attack which is our way,” midfielder Jose Fuenzalida told a news conference in Belo Horizonte.
“We are in good form with players that have been many seasons in Europe, that have played before at a World Cup and know how to help us with the anxiety ahead of the first game.”
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