Gullit concerned by Netherlands defence

The Dutch meet the European and world champions in a rematch of the 2010 final and the former AC Milan player feels that while the attack is strong, there are problems at the back
Netherlands legend Ruud Gullit feels coach Louis van Gaal will need to pay special attention to his defence ahead of their opening World Cup match against Spain.

Andres Iniesta's extra-time winner made the difference between the sides in the final four years ago in South Africa as Spain won the second of three consecutive international titles.

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The sides meet again in their first game of the tournament with Spain the favourites to win the match and finish first in the group. Gullit believes the Oranje have a strong attack but feels their defence needs special attention from Van Gaal.

"This game marks the beginning of Brazil 2014 for both teams so we are more likely to see a prudent approach from both of them with the players trying to understand how to adapt to the conditions," he wrote in Times of India.

"The Dutch look fine in attack where they have the experience of Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder. However, coach Louis van Gaal will need to pay special attention to sharpening his defence where there are a lot of young players.

"Ideally, what every manager of the main contenders would like, is to see their team grow as the tournament progresses. Remember what happened to the Germans four years ago; they began very strongly but looked jaded when they faced Spain in the semis."

The former AC Milan and Chelsea player feels Brazil and Argentina are the favourites to win the competition but stresses it won't be easy.

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"The South American sides, especially Brazil and Argentina, might be favoured but they have their own pressures to negotiate.

"For Brazil, the only way they can counter the protests against the hosting of the tournament is to perform well on the pitch.

"That will be anything but a straightforward task. As for Argentina, not just the team but the entire nation's hopes will be on the shoulders of Lionel Messi.

"He will step on the pitch with a burning desire to prove he can scale the same heights with his national side that he has achieved with Barcelona."