Spiritless Spain Look Dead And Buried


World Cup holders Spain seem to have given us the first real defining moment of this years tournament. Unfortunately for the Spanish it wasn’t in a good way from their point of view.

They lost 5-1 against the Dutch, the side they beat in the final four years ago.

Now many have been quick to point out that the Spanish also lost to Switzerland in their opening fixture in South Africa in 2010. But it is the manner of the defeat that will cause so much heartache for Vicente del Bosque and his squad.

The Spanish took the lead, when Xabi Alonso converted a penalty in the first half. They started with their usual passing and pressing game. They stood up to the Dutch attacks and followed them up with equally good counters. Diego Costa was a constant nuisance up front, battling with the opposing defenders.

But then just before half-time Robin van Persie was first to react to a delightful Daley Blind cross ball from the left and headed it over the on rushing Iker Casillas.

In the second half the Spanish totally capitulated.

They gave the Netherlands the momentum and the Dutch ripped them apart.

Again Blind, who was outstanding all night, crossed the ball deep from the left and again it was like an arrow to its target. This time the target was Arjen Robben who smashed the ball beyond a disappointing Casillas.

Those two goals were great for the Dutch but the defence sold their jerseys. Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos were too slow and got caught out twice. Why no one could keep tabs on Blind is beyond me.

I was surprised that the third goal stood as it looked like Dutch captain Robin van Persie had impeded the Spanish goalie. But why was Feyenoord’s Stefan de Vrij given so much time at the back post? The Spanish defence was all at sea and they were like that for most of the game.

At that time, the whole Spanish team just collapsed and gave up the ghost. It was shocking how so many downed tools. The ‘Tiki-taka’ faded, the energy became non-existent and the defence were already back on the beach.

The fourth goal summed up Casillas’ night as he had a really poor first touch from a back-pass and allowed Van Persie to nab it off him and get his second of the game.

Holland would add a fifth as Robben sprinted past the Sergio Ramos as if the Real Madrid man was wearing concrete boots. The Dutch winger then skipped past Iker and then steadied himself before smashing it into the net!

That wasn’t even game, set and match. No, the Netherlands still managed to carve open the World and European champions a few more times with Casillas finally pulling off a few saves.

Now here is the thing, I don’t think Holland were at their best tonight. They played well and certainly took advantage but it Spain themselves that just crumbled and didn’t look up for anything after half-time. How does Del Bosque get them back up for this tournament?

A lot of his team played a huge part in extremely long seasons back in Europe. The players looked extremely tired from about an hour in, if not before. But when Spain needed them tonight, no one stood up and took the game to Holland.

Then you have to remember that Chile are up next and Barcelona’s Alexis Sanchez will be rubbing his hands when he watches that game back.

When Del Bosque flung on Fernando Torres you really did get the feeling that Spain were ready to hand bak the World Cup. Torres was just as blunt in front of goal for his national team as he has been since he joined Chelsea back in 2011.

Two seasons ago Bayern Munich humbled and humiliated Barcelona and the Catalans have never been the same again. Former Barca and Bayern boss Louis van Gaal today inflicted similar punishment on the Spanish national side.

To progress in this tournament Spain need to find a new plan and Del Bosque needs to find that plan yesterday!

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