CURITIBA, Brazil (AP) — With the Netherlands determined to use a defensive setup to beat Spain, the World Cup champions are honing their famed "tiki-taka" system in reply.
Coach Vicente del Bosque put his squad through an intense opening training session on Monday, pushing his players to refine the quick-touch, possession-based style that has propelled it to the top of world football.
Spain's commitment to its tactics has left the Netherlands preparing a new formation with five defenders for their Group B opener on Friday.
The rematch of the brutish 2010 World Cup final, won by Spain 1-0, looks like it could pick up in Salvador right where it left off in Johannesburg.
"It's a key game because it is the first game. It's fundamental," midfielder David Silva said on Monday. "We know if we can win this game we'll take a big step forward."
Del Bosque said in an interview published Monday that the Spain players are not "tiki-taka Talibans," suggesting the team could vary its tactics when needed. The former Real Madrid coach has tinkered with his formation at each tournament since taking over in 2008, with Silva often being relied on to be a difference maker.
Silva found himself coming off the bench during World Cup qualifying, but Del Bosque has often called on the Manchester City midfielder at major tournaments.
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