Netherlands humiliates Spain in their opening game as Arjen Robben and Manchester United striker Robin van Persie scored a brace each.
Holland managed to send shockwaves across the football world with their decimation of reigning World Champions Spain. Few would have expected the Dutch side to win this game, more so with such a score line.
The match started as expected with Spain taking the leading in the 27th minute. Brazilian born striker Diego Costa was fouled in the box in Stefan De Vrij and Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso stepped up to convert from the spot with an emphatic penalty. But Holland were quick to respond as Robin van Persie scored the equalizer with one of the best goals of the tournament so far, just before the halftime.
Daley Blind picked up the Dutch man with a fine cross from the left wing and the Manchester United forward beat the off-side trap and found the back of the net with an amazing diving header – a flying Dutchman in the true sense of the words.
The second half was saw a rejuvenated Dutch side come out to the pitch and they produced a performance to remember. Arjen Robben provided them with the lead for the first time in the game with a goal in the 53rd minute of the match. It was a wonderful individual effort by the Bayern Munich winger, who brought Blind’s long ball down with a superb first touch and then turned the defender before unleashing a shot past Iker Casillas.
De Vrij, who conceded the penalty in the first half, managed to redeem himself as he scored his side’s third goal with a header at the far post, from a Wesley Sneijder free-kick. Things went from bad to worse for Iker Casillas and Spain as the Real Madrid goalkeeper’s poor mistake provided Robin van Persie to add a fourth just eight minutes later. Casillas failed to clear the ball after receiving a back pass, and his poor touch provided the former Arsenal forward with an opportunity to snatch it from him.
But there was enough time for Netherlands to put a final nail in the coffin as Arjen Robben produced another moment of magic on the break. The Dutchman showed tremendous pace to get in behind the Spanish defence and then kept his composure to take the ball past Casillas and fire it into the top corner. This win has put them in a strong position to win this group, while Spain will have to bounce back quickly from his humiliation.
It was a tactical master class from Louis van Gaal as he opted to use a 3-4-1-2 formation with Robben and van Persie at the top, and the Dutch manager stressed on the importance of this tactic and van Persie’s equalizer just before the half-time.
“If Van Persie wouldn’t have scored the 1-1 before half-time, I would’ve switched back to the 4-3-3 formation.
“If I played with three attackers, my wingers would have chased down the Spain backs too much, that would be a waste.
“I played this system because I believe that we are not good enough to beat Spain with our normal 4-3-3 formation.
“We still have to beat Australia to make this victory count.” – van Gaal said in his post-match interview.
Spain’s manager, Vicente del Bosque, has praised Holland’s tactical awareness and accepted that his side were outplayed in the second half.
“They were better in the second half after a first half when we played well,
“They looked to knock the ball over the top against our defence and found a lot of space.
“We kept on fighting but they were physically stronger as the game went on and that made a difference.
“It is now a delicate situation for us which we will try and overcome in our next game against Chile and then see what happens.” – Del Bosque added.