FIFA World Cup: Key battles from Spain vs Netherlands
With the European giants set to clash tonight, we look at where the match will be won or lost
Sergio Ramos vs Robin van Persie
Fast, powerful, skilful and good in the air, Ramos is possibly the most complete defender on the planet at present and is also a genuine attacking threat as well. Ramos will need to have his wits about him to contain Holland captain Van Persie, though, with the Man United striker a prolific scorer at club and international level. Van Persie has only netted twice in 11 World Cup matches but Spain will underestimate him at their peril.
Jordi Alba vs Arjen Robben
Alba was not part of Spain's World Cup success four years ago but has proved a brilliant replacement for Joan Capdevila, offering La Roja solidity and tenacity at the back as well as a crucial attacking outlet down the left. The Barcelona full-back may have to curb his marauding runs against the Dutch, however, to help deal with the threat of Robben, who is the one of the biggest dangermen in the tournament. The mercurial Bayern Munich winger has had his fitness problems down the years, but on his day there are not many defences who can handle his direct running and shoot-on-sight style.
Andres Iniesta vs Nigel de Jong
The Dutch will need no introduction to Iniesta, who scored the match-winner in the 2010 final between the two, but stopping the Barcelona ace remains a different matter. Capable of playing anywhere in attack, two-footed and equally adept at scoring goals or creating them, Iniesta has been a key reason behind Spain and Barca's remarkable success over the last half-a-dozen years. All of the Holland defence will need to be on high alert against Iniesta, but midfield enforcer De Jong could be the man mainly tasked with limiting the 30-year-old's influence and also disrupting Spain's 'tiki-taka' passing style. The fiery AC Milan man infuriated the Spanish with his infamous 'Kung-Fu' tackle on Xabi Alonso in the 2010 final, where he was lucky to escape a red card, but he will not be afraid to ruffle a few more feathers today.