Everything written about the weakness of the Dutch side can be scrapped. Two goals from Robin van Persie and two from Arjen Robben led the Netherlands to an incredible 5-1 victory over Spain in something of a revenge match to the previous World Cup final, coming back from a goal down after the defending champions got a penalty kick they didn’t deserve.
Netherlands take the top spot in Group B by storm with an incredible second half, looking absolutely lethal in the second half with goals from counter attacks and a header from a set piece by Stefan de Vrij despite Van Persie fouling Iker Casillas in the process.
Spain? A defending world champion, the most recent European champion; supposedly the best team in the world according to the FIFA ranking. Tiki-Taka football died this season in club football, and it seems that the same possession based football for the national team didn’t work as well, stung time after time by the speed of the Dutch team, making the most of a terrible Casillas and his slow centre back duo.
Things looked very different in the beginning. Spain moved the ball well with David Silva doing wonderfully to get away from the confused Dutch defense, but Diego Costa was very wasteful with the opportunities he got. However, the referees struck again: Nicola Rizzoli gave Spain a penalty after a Diego Costa dive, and Xabi Alonso converted from the penalty spot in the 27th minute. However, a beautiful cross from Daley Blind found a diving Robin van Persie, chipping it with his head above Iker Casillas, positioned badly, not for the first time this season or the last time in this match.
Spain lost their shape and patience in the second half, as Arjen Robben found his way to the Spanish penalty box, having no problem getting past two defenders with his speed and scoring past Casillas. The third goal didn’t come much later, as Stefan de Vrij made the most of Casillas getting elbowed in the head by Van Persie to put the Netherlands two goals up after 64 minutes.
Substitutions, formation changes, nothing helped. Spain neglected their defense and paid dearly for it. In the 72nd minute it was Robin van Persie who scored the fourth goal after a terrible mistake by Iker Casillas, doing an amateur job of trapping the ball and allowing the Dutch to turn this into a humiliation. Another turn over in the middle of the pitch allowed Robben to show his speed while Sergio Ramos and Iker Casillas displayed how slow they are, with Robben scoring his second of the match, completing the humiliation.
Spain lost in the previous World Cup opener, but it wasn’t like this. Maybe things will look different once the shock from the loss subsides, but in the two days of the 2014 World Cup, this has to be the most amazing moment, and one of the most incredible ones we’ve seen in recent tournaments. The Dutch all of a sudden become favorites to win the title.