World Cup 2010 Comment: Past Meetings Between Netherlands And Spain's Ewan Macdonald relives the previous occasions on which these two sides have met...
Believe it or not, the Dutch and the Spanish have met on just three competitive occasions in the history of organised football.

Below we'll look at each time they have met, starting with perhaps the most important meeting between the sides in 1920 and heading through to recent friendlies...

Netherlands 1-3 Spain
Olympic Games, Antwerp, 5 September 1920

The one and only time these two sides clashed for silverware, both nations were beaten by the all-conquering Belgians in the early stages, but went on to win a series of consolation matches ahead of the second medal play-off. In the event Spain ended up gaining Olympic silver and consigning the Dutch to bronze. A Basque-dominated Spanish outfit took an early two-goal lead thanks to a brace from young Barcelona star Felix Sesumaga before Ber Groosjohan of the long-forgotten VOC Rotterdam club pulled one back. The final goal of the day fell to none other than Athletic Bilbao's Pichichi.

Spain 5-1 Netherlands
Friendly, Madrid, 30 January 1957

Fast-forward thirty-three years and Spain welcomed the Dutch for what may be considered just another European friendly but for the small fact that Alfredo di Stefano made his debut for Spain. Needless to say the Real Madrid legend hit a hat-trick, Jesus Garay and Ladislao Kabala getting the others. Bosselaar got one from the penalty spot for the Dutch 13 minutes before the end.

Netherlands 3-2 Spain
Friendly, Amsterdam, 2 May 1973

A thrilling encounter, this one, with the Dutch twice taking the lead before being pegged back. Johnny Rep opened the scoring before Oscar Valdez equalised. Pepe Reina's father Miguel Reina put through his own net to give the Dutch a second before Valencia's Valdez struck yet again. Only a goal from no-nonsense defender Rinus Israel in the last minute gave the Dutch the win.

In a nice piece of symmetry, the Spain coach for this game and the next was Ladislao Kubala, the man who scored against the Dutch sixteen years prior.

Spain 1-0 Netherlands
Friendly, Vigo, 23 January 1980

The Spanish national team went up to rainy Vigo for an exciting friendly: with just two years before Spain were to host their first World Cup, the national spirit was high. La Furia Roja repaid the fans' faith with a close-fought 1-0 win. Athletic Bilbao's Dani, on as a second-half substitute, got the only goal of the game from the penalty spot. For the Dutch it was a prelude to a disappointing Euro '80 campaign in which they finished third in their group and went out in the first round: Spain did even worse, finishing last in theirs, signalling the end of Laszlo's reign.

Spain 1-0 Netherlands
Euro Qualifier, Seville, 16 February 1983

With Euro '80 and World Cup '82 out of the way, the sides were reunited for their first competitive encounter in over 50 years. Juan Senor, two years into what would be a fantastic nine-year spell at Real Zaragoza, netted the only goal of the game just before the interval: his first international goal. The Dutch, meanwhile, struggled to balance youth and experience, with Ruud Gullit a rare bright spark in his second half appearance.

Netherlands 2-1 Spain
Euro Qualifier, Rotterdam, 16 November 1983

A packed house at De Kuip witnessed what the Dutch thought was to be a qualification decider, and it was one in which the Oranje prevailed. Peter Houtman, in the midst of his very brief international career, scored the first before Carlos 'Santillana' Gonzalez equalised for Spain. Up stepped Ruud Gullit, this time as a starter, to score the winning goal in the second half for a side that also contained the youthful Koeman brothers.

This was the second-last game of qualifying and seemed to give the Dutch safe passage to the final. After all, Spain had a vastly inferior goal difference now, and the Dutch went on to put five past Malta, meaning that the Spanish in the very last match would need to score 11. This they did. In fact they went one better and netted 12, albeit with the Maltese scoring one as well.

Spain 1-1 Netherlands
Friendly, Barcelona, 21 January 1987

Back to friendly duty, and this time Ruud Gullit finally found himself on the scoresheet, with Ramon Caldere equalising for what was less than a pleasing result for both sides in front of a sparse crowd at Camp Nou. The Dutch fielded a young team - none had more than 27 caps, including the goalkeeper - dominated by Ajax and PSV. This team was to go on to win Euro 88 a year later while Spain again crashed out in Round 1.

Spain 1-2 Netherlands
Friendly, Seville, 15 November 2000

The new decade saw the Dutch come to Seville and leave with a well-earned win. Jose Antonio Camacho used this match to experiment with his lineup, and that seemed to pay off as Fernando Hierro scored a rare goal midway through the second half. However, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink equalised in the 73rd minute. Then, crazily, the two goalscorers began to fight and were sent off. Frank de Boer netted the winner from a Clarence Seedorf corner just minutes from time and that was that. Xavi and Carles Puyol made their debuts for Spain in this game, while the Dutch gave their first caps to Fernando Ricksen, Kevin Hofland, and Patrick Paauwe.

Netherlands 1-0 Spain
Friendly, Rotterdam, 27 March 2002

Finally, De Kuip witnessed another win for Dick Advocaat's men, albeit in a dull encounter. An experienced-looking Dutch side had skipper Frank de Boer - one of four Dutch starters to play in Spain with Barcelona - to thank for the only goal of the game. A young yet tired-looking Spain never got into the match, while Raul, winning his 50th cap, struggled to make an impact.

This match was an anticlimax. Surely the final in 2010 will be better!

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