This is most likely going to be a World Cup to remember from the look of things. After a shaky pre-tournament and an underwhelming opening ceremony, this year’s FIFA World Cup seems to be rising beyond expectations of many in the football fraternity. The emphatic drubbing of the holders, Spain by the Dutch on Friday is a case in point.
After a slow start to the match in which Spain actually dictated play in the opening moments, Holland were lucky to escape intact from a Diego Costa onslaught. The first attempt which came as early as the third minute, was denied the bulky striker by Ron Vlaar who made a beautiful recovering tackle after Costa hesitated in front of goal. Spain was at it again ten minutes later when Xavi made a searching pass which was meant to find Diego but great defending again from Ron Vlaar saved the day for the Dutch. The pair were again at it in the eighteenth minute when the imposing striker was set up for goal and Ron Vlaar was at hand again to make a last ditch attempt to save the game for his country.
The Dutch luck finally ran out in the 26th minute when again, Diego received a pass and drifted to the left under close scrutiny from De Vrij. When the burly striker tried to cut back inside, the defender’s trailing leg caught him and he went down and two minutes later Xabi Alonso stepped up to put Spain a goal up with a no-nonsense grounder into the bottom right corner which the goalkeeper just missed with his hand.
Spain were beginning to look comfortable with their shirt passing game until Daley Blind’s long searching pass was brilliantly connected with a header by Manchester United striker, Robin van Persie to end the first half with the 2010 FIFA World Cup finalists deadlocked at one all.
After the break, Blind provided another killer pass, this time to winger Arjen Robben who cut back inside and put a screamer past Casillas. From this moment, the Spaniards began to fall apart. This was immediately followed by a Wesley Sneijder free-kick which found Stefan de Vrij who did not hesitate in front of goal. After making a brilliant save from another Sneijder attack, Casillas was found wanting when, in an attempt to play a ball out from defence, he inadvertently gave it away to van Persie who quickly prodded it over the unguarded line.
The nail on the proverbial coffin was put there by none other than Robben, who collected a pass from the right and literally dragged the Real Madrid goalie on the ground before slotting home past two hapless defenders.
After the match that could turn out to be the best group game in Brazil, the Dutch Manchester United bound coach cautioned his charges in a post match press conference. He said that the win was unexpected and therefore sweet but that his team did not have anything especially if they did not go on to win their next group game.