The second day of the World Cup brought us our first surprise as holders Spain were taken apart 5-1 by Holland in a rematch of the 2010 World Cup final. In the day’s other games Mexico beat Cameroon 1-0 while Chile got by Australia 3-1.
But the story was in Salvador where the new Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal side took apart the defending European champions with a brilliant second half display.
Robin Van Persie and Arjen Robben both scored twice, while defender Stefan de Vrij scored his side’s third. Holland were everything that they were not in Soccer City four years ago. They attacked with pace and skill, and the sight of van Persie flying through the air to head the ball in the net from the edge of the penalty spot will be one of the endearing images of this World Cup.
As for Spain, yes they lost their first game in South Africa four year ago and went on and won the cup, but this was a seminal moment. It was a defeat that marks the end of an era. Iker Casillas showed once again why Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti don’t trust him anymore, as he was at fault two of the Dutch goals and his mistakes ended any hope of a Spanish comeback. Casillas’s error should have cost Real Madrid the Champions League title two weeks ago, and the question in the Spanish press is whether it is time for the future and David De Gea?
At the back, Sergio Ramos and Gerald Pique were poor. Pique has struggled with fitness all season and Ramos was slow. For Holland’s fifth goal, Robben gave Ramos a five yard start at the half way line and still ran past him to score.
The Spanish domination in European and World football has been built around the trifecta of Xavi, Iniesta and Sergio Busquets. Where did they go in the second half when Holland ran wild?
Next up for Spain is a very tricky match against a Chile side who beat Australia 3-1 on Friday. Chile looks very strong going forward, but are vulnerable at the back. The problem for Spain could be in scoring goals as Diego Costa could be suspended while Fernado Torres is a shadow of his former self.
Could the unthinkable happen and Spain lose? It’s a real possibility. And even if they manage to turn things around and finish second in the group, as the second seed Spain will meet Brazil in the knockout stages. Brazil likes to counter attack like the Dutch, and I cannot see Spain being able to stop them.