WC2014 Spain 1 – 5 Holland

Bonk! That was a moment to rival his Goal of the Season first touch volley. Robin van Persie begins the psychic destruction of Iker Casillas.

Bonk! That was a moment to rival his Goal of the Season first touch volley. Robin van Persie begins the psychic destruction of Iker Casillas.

No One Expected The Spanish Inquisition

Wow! No, really, just Wow with capital letters and everything. You don’t normally expect this sort of thing at major tourneys, certainly not from the sides that played out such an ill-tempered dour World Cup Final in South Africa four years ago. And if that seems like a long time, it will feel like another universe ago to the Spanish this morning. For they were served a spanking that will be seared into their collective unconscious for generations to come.

For it was a spanking. A full on, get out the dungeonwear, you’ve been a very naughty person spanking. And no one in the Spanish side came out with their arses spared. For keeper Iker Casillas, for so long the rock of Spain’s defence, it will be a particularly protracted recovery,  you suspect when he dies they will find ‘ Arena Fonte Nova Friday 13th June 2014’ carved into his heart.

And yet it didn’t have to be this way. Spain started well and dominated the game, without being really, superbly Spanish about it. They seemed to have the better of the majority of the first half and went ahead when PseudoSpaniard Diego Costa won the sort of penalty strikers win by trailing a leg cleverly. A tad dubious, but in contrast to Brazil’s penalty it was a stone banker. And when Xabi Alonso slotted it home it felt like the Dutch were in for a bit of bother.

And then they were bonked.

But the match turned on two moments at the end of the first half. David Silva, through on goal should have given Spain a 2 – 0  lead, but he opted to dink the Dutch keeper, who deflected it wide. Moments later Blind unleashed a crossfield hurricane and van Persie made the Spanish defence look like a bunch of muppets as he equalised.

Robin van Persie’s goal was both a thing of beauty and a reminder of the Charles Hughes school of meat and potatoes hoofball. Daley Blind boshed a long ball towards the penalty box and van Persie planted himself and then headchipped a poorly placed Casillas, the arc of the ball perfectly mirroring the nosedive in Spain’s fortunes. It was van Persie’s first touch of the ball in Spain’s half.

From then on the Spanish, and their defence in particular, looked like they’d been brickbatted in the face. You couldn’t believe that this was the same defence that let in only 3 goals in their entire qualifying matches, whose personnel had won numerous Champions Leagues, two European Championships and were current holders of the World Cup. Instead it looked more like Ramos, Casillas, Piquet et al had never met before, so disjointed was their behaviour from then on.

They had no idea of how to deal with the Dutch. They conceded a sloppy second as Blind once again found a perfect ball, this time to Robben, lost a third to a corner, then Casillas went all Artur Boruc on van Persie, which was something of a mistake. Finally Robben wandered through the Spanish high defensive line, flipped both central defenders and Casillas on their arses and, once again, slotted the ball home.

It was a humiliation for Spain and it could have been worse. Van Persie hit the bar and Casillas pulled of an excellent save from a late Robben volley. But nothing could disguise the game changing effect of this match. Spain are on the floor and, with Chile’s win, could easily be on the boat home come the middle of next week. It could take them another generation to recover.

The Dutch only have to beware that they haven’t peaked too soon.



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