Barcelona: World champions Spain are not soccer’s rigid “Taliban” and can vary their trademark possession football if necessary, coach Vicente del Bosque has said.
Spain begin their bid to retain the trophy on Friday against the Netherlands, their rivals in the final four years ago in South Africa when the Dutch used a physical approach to try and unsettle them.
The Netherlands now have a coach in Louis van Gaal who hopes to continue the Dutch traditions of total football but has also admitted that he will look to bolster the defence against Spain with five at the back in the Group B match at Salvadore.
“We are not rigid… We are not tiki-taka Taliban with just one way of playing,” Del Bosque told a Spanish newspaper.
“Possession without having depth is meaningless. For that reason we are working so that the team can pressure to win back possession and then as a group attack. 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 that there aren’t others who are just as good and give results.”
Del Bosque was prepared in case Spain’s group rivals, that also include Chile and Australia, opt 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.
Winners of the last two European Championships, Spain return to Brazil where they lost the Confederations Cup final last year against the home nation, in front of some 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.”
Spain arrived in Brazil on Sunday and wet weather welcomed the world champions' to the southeastern city of Curitiba, where Spain will be based throughout the tournament.
Players and staff were whisked straight from the plane into an awaiting bus, which then took the team to its hotel and training facility at local club Atletico Paranaense, on the outskirts of the city.
Unlike in South Africa four years ago when banners and flags welcomed their arrival, there were no indications that the World Cup champion was in Curitiba apart from signs at the training facility.
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.
“We are not used to so much heat and humidity but we are ready and acclimatising well.”
Australia appear the weakest side in the group but Chile look strong opponents that play quick, attacking football inspired by Barcelona’s Alexis Sanchez.
There is concern though over the fitness of midfielder Arturo Vidal who has a knee injury and is a doubt for the first match against Australia.
“Chile has a clear style of play and we are going to give our all. We will play on the attack which is our way,” forward 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.”