European champions Spain travel to face the Netherlands in a friendly on Tuesday with the pain from their 5-1 thrashing at the hands of the Dutch at last year’s World Cup still fresh in the memory.
The hammer blow delivered by Louis van Gaal’s men in Salvador last June was one from which Spain never recovered as their defence of the title they won with a 1-0 final victory over the Netherlands four years previously in South Africa ended after just two games.
Just over a year out from the European Championship in France there are plenty of questions over both sides’ form.
Spain sit only second in Group C of qualifying after limping to a 1-0 win over Ukraine on Friday, while the Netherlands have plenty of work to do just to qualify having won just two of their opening five games in Group A.
However, there are high hopes for Spain’s new generation of stars that have graduated from winning back-to-back European Championships at under-21 level.
Isco, Koke and goalscorer Alvaro Morata all started against Ukraine, while David de Gea is expected to get his chance ahead of Iker Casillas in goal in Amsterdam.
And Isco believes it is only a matter of time before the goals begin to fly in again for Spain after a relatively lean spell in front of goal since winning the third of three consecutive major tournaments at Euro 2012.
“Possibly in the national team we are not scoring many goals lately, but we are creating plenty of chances and it is something that can change from one game to another. It is a question of being more deadly.”
That is an opinion shared by his coach Vicente del Bosque, who believes his side’s performances in recent months have been seen through the prism of disappointment at the World Cup.
“Everything seems bad and it is not like that. We are doing some things well,” he said on Saturday.
“Spain aren’t so far away from what they were.”
Despite their lean form in front of goal Del Bosque’s men will be confident of overpowering an under-strength Dutch side which has looked a shadow of the team which finished third at the World Cup since Guus Hiddink replaced Van Gaal as coach.
Wesley Sneijder’s effort that deflected in off Klaas-Jan Huntelaar in injury time could only salvage a 1-1 draw at home to Turkey on Saturday, and they will be without the two men who tore Spain to shreds in Brazil as both Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben miss out through injury.