Spains Martinez wary of Bayern teammate Robben

11 June 2014 03:46

Spain's Javi Martinez believes stopping the Netherlands' experienced front three, including Bayern Munich teammate Arjen Robben, will be the key when his side open the defence of the World Cup in a rematch of the 2010 final in Salvador on Friday.

"The greatest danger from the Netherlands comes from the three players up front; Robben, (Robin) Van Persie and (Wesley) Sneijder," Martinez said on Wednesday.

"Not only with the national team, but at Bayern as well Robben is very strong on the counter-attack. He moves very well into space and we will have to control him."

Robben was denied by two crucial saves from Spanish captain Iker Casillas with the score still at 0-0 in the final four years ago before Andres Iniesta went on to score the winner in extra time to hand Spain their first ever World Cup.

"We have spoken about it during our two years as teammates," added Martinez.

"It was a big blow for the Netherlands and for him, we have spoken a lot about those chances and Iker's saves.

"I said to him before the Champions League final in 2013 that if he got the chance again he wouldn't fail and he didn't."

Spain became the first side to win the World Cup despite losing their opening game in 2010 as they were shocked 1-0 by Switzerland.

However, with highly-rated South Americans Chile also to come along with Australia in Group B, Martinez is hoping for a better start in Brazil.

"The pressure that comes with losing the first game is logical because you have no margin for error.

"Although it wasn't definitive, starting well gives you extra confidence despite the fact we ended up as world champions the last time."

Martinez is likely to provide backup in central defence for Vicente del Bosque despite playing largely in midfield over the past two seasons for Bayern due to Spain's wealth of talent available in midfield.

Atletico Madrid's Koke is also likely to miss out on a starting place due to the likes of Xavi Hernandez and Iniesta, but the 22-year-old insisted it is a pleasure just to train alongside the Barcelona duo.

"Every day I am learning more from them. The two of them have a lot of things to teach you, but the thing I am most struck by is how quickly they think, they can read the move before it happens.

"I am trying to concentrate not just on them, but in all the players here to be able to improve every day."

Koke has been heavily linked with a move to Barca after a stellar season with La Liga champions and Champions League finalists Atletico, but he claimed his mind is on the job of retaining the World Cup.

"Right now I am trying to play in and win a World Cup which is the most important thing. I have a contract with Atletico and I am very happy there."

Source: AFP