We've been waiting for the World Cup for what seems like an eternity now. No sooner had Spain sealed their 1-0 victory over the Netherlands in extra time than fans began looking ahead to this year's tournament. We could have hardly dreamed that the third match of the whole affair would be a rematch of that final.
And for we Villa fans, this match carries even more watching significance than it would otherwise, as it will likely be the World Cup debut of the club's captain, Ron Vlaar. After being one of the final seven players cut from the 2010 Dutch squad, Vlaar returns this year very likely to be one of three central defenders that Louis van Gaal chooses to start.
And if the Oranje are going to have much success in this tournament at all, it will be because Vlaar and his fellow defenders played above the expectations set for them. Everybody knows that the duo of Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben are a potent strikeforce, and the Dutch cannot be counted out to score quite a few goals. But their defense is not well-regarded, and they don't have the buffer of solid midfield players like Kevin Strootman and Rafael van der Vaart to help them out.
Vlaar, then, could play a pivotal role in his team's success against Spain. If he commands the back line as effectively as he did this season at Aston Villa, he may be able to marshall a strong set of egos into outperforming expectations. If he can't do that, you can likely expect to see the Dutch defense picked apart by the twilight version of Spain's tiki-taka glory.
The match is the second of the day, and the first in group B. It kicks off at 8 PM UK time. If you're looking for the best place to watch, make sure to check the LiveSoccerTV listings for your country. And also be sure to join us later for our World Cup open thread!