Reigning European and World champions Spain kick off the World Cup campaign on June 13 against fellow European heavyweights Holland.
It will be the first encounter between the two footballing giants since their dramatic World Cup final meeting in South Africa in 2010, a game which was decided by Andres Iniesta’s strike deep into extra-time.
Both teams have experienced changes in personnel since that night in Johannesburg almost four years ago. However, for Holland, the star striker which Del Bosque feared back then remains the Spaniard’s biggest threat this summer.
Manchester United’s Robin Van Persie has been in excellent form for the national team under soon-to-be United boss Louis Van Gaal.
The 30-year-old finished the 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualification campaign as the top scorer with 11 goals, and in doing so became his nation’s all-time top goalscorer following a superb hat-trick during Holland’s devastating 8-1 victory over Hungary.
When asked on the difficulties of facing Holland, without hesitation Del Bosque pinpointed Man United’s Van Persie alongside Bayern Munich winger Arjen Robben as the men to watch and lauded their individuality.
“Individually, they [Holland] are very strong. They have Robin Van Persie, and Robben, players which not many other teams possess. It’s going to be very difficult.” He said, quoted by Spanish press AS.
When fit, Robin van Persie has performed well for the Red Devils this season, despite the teams disappointing campaign in general. In 18 Premier League starts, he scored 12 goals and added a further three assists.
Whilst he has missed the Premier League run-in due to the knee ligament injury, Van Persie has spent the majority of the last few months back in his homeland and in dialogue with Dutch coach Louis Van Gaal – a situation which bodes well for United fans ahead of next season.