Day 2 of the 2014 World Cup brought us the sensational result from group B as the Netherlands crushed Spain 5-1 with braces from Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben. Chile also won in that group, beating Australia 3-1, while Mexico capped things off in Group A with an impressive 1-0 win over Cameroon which wasn’t as close as the scoreline might suggest.
Mexico 1 Cameroon 0: As expected, or maybe slightly differing from early predictions, Mexico looked like the attacking and enjoyable team we’ve known them to be in World Cup tournaments. Twice goals by Giovani Dos Santos were wrongfully disqualified by the terrible Mexican referee, but eventually Oribe Peralta scoring in the 61st minute off a rebound gave Mexico the 3 points and the deserved win.
Spain 1 Netherlands 5: A stunning day in Salvador. Spain took the lead through Xabi Alonso in the 27th minute from the penalty spot thanks to a dive by Diego Costa. One great save from Jasper Cillessen sparked the Dutch team into playing a bit more effectively on the counter attack, resulting in a beautiful Robin van Persie goal before half time. Arjen Robben showed superb control in mid air with the second goal in the 53rd minute, followed by Stefan de Vrij scoring a goal that should have been disallowed (foul by Van Persie). The striker scored his second off an Iker Casillas mistake and Robben capped things off by racing past Sergio Ramos and scoring in the one on one situation.
Chile 3 Australia 1: A very enjoyable match as the Chileans enjoyed a rowdy support from their fans to take an early two goal lead, first with Alexis Sanchez scoring and later with the Barcelona player setting Jorge Valdivia up for the goal. Tim Cahill scored early in the second half to put the Aussies back in the match, but a late goal from Jean Beausejour struck out any feat this match would somehow slip away from Chile.
What did we Learn: Cameroon continues their decline. They make World Cups because in the African scene they’re good enough, but with Samuel Eto’o being the best shot they have at scoring goals, it’s hard to believe they’re going very far in this tournament, or even getting more than a point or two. Mexico, despite the poor qualifying campaign, look like a team that’s ready to continue their streak of making the second round. Very enjoyable football with some fantastic passing and movement up front, and if it wasn’t for another terrible officiating display, there would have been more goals.
The Netherlands started off things like they did in Euro 2008 – low expectations, but flawless execution of the counter attack, this time without involving too many players. Robin van Persie seems happy when David Moyes isn’t his manager, and Arjen Robben seems pleased to be attacking such a slow bunch of defenders, as Netherlands immediately put themselves among the favorites to win the tournament. Spain lost their opening match four years ago as well, but Iker Casillas was terrible, and so was his defense. Everything we saw this season from possessions based teams has taught us it’s time for a change. The question is will it be possible in such a short time.
Australia are nice to watch. They have two excellent wingers in Tommy Oar and Mathew Leckie, while Tim Cahill remains an incredible threat in the air. However, their central midfield hardly exists and their defense isn’t exactly formidable as well. Chile on the other hand are a bit more solid around the edges with Alexis Sanchez flourishing in a central role. The problem for them is dealing with crosses and the feat that took over them in the second half, completely turning away from everything that worked for them in the first half.
Group A Table
1. Neymar (Brazil), Robin van Persie (Netherlands), Arjen Robben (Netherlands) – 2 goals
2. Oscar (Brazil), Oribe Peralta (Mexico), Xabi Alonso (Spain), Stefan de Vrij (Netherlands), Alexis Sanchez (Chile), Jorge Valdivia (Chile), Tim Cahill (Australia), Jean Beausejour (Chile) – 1 goal
Group C: Colombia vs Greece, Ivory Coast vs Japan
Group D: Uruguay vs Costa Rica, England vs Italy