I bet there’s a few soldiers of Oranje waking up to sore heads this morning but their hangover will be soothed with the knowledge they had just witnessed one of their greatest ever World Cup victories. Not even the most fervent of Nederlanders would have predicted such a towsing last night and neither would any Spaniard expected such a second half capitulation.
Many are already predicting an early flight home for the Spanish similar to the French in 2002 but that is to ignore the merits of recent dominance of the International game. It is still well within their powers to pick up the remaining 6 points against Australia and Chile but any type of repeat of yesterday will see them home before the tournament has really started.
It could be an end of an era for the Spanish and the majority of neutrals would prefer to see another captain than Casillas lift the trophy but they still have squad picked from the best of La Liga teams including finalists of this year’s Champions League.
Vincent Del Bosque will have a few decisions to make not least on whether or not o drop his stalwart keeper, Iker Casillas. The Real Madrid keeper has had a poor couple of seasons since falling out of favour initially with Jose Mourinho. Both Pepe Reina and David de Gea are waiting to usurp the faltering Captain and will be confident of filling his boots. Similarly Del Bosque may have to tinker with a defence which was easily over run by the marauding Robben and deadly Van Persie last night. Costa made an inauspicious competitive debut but managed to fool the referee into a poor penalty decision. When he was finally replaced the enigma that is Fernando Torres the team seemed to be weakened with Torres missing an open goal and generally running about aimlessly.
The Dutch however realistically only need to capture 3 more points to proceed to the next round. Chile and Australia looked evenly matched despite the 3-1 win for the South Americans last night and the Dutch should feel confident of beating either of the two. Louis Van Gaal seemed to have figured out the perfect way to extinguish the tiki-taka form of football of Spain last night. His defenders were solid and stoic with help from backtracking midfielders and their quick turn over counter attack bypassed the Spanish centre midfield leaving Robben the run of the last third of the field. The Dutch winger can impress and frustrate in equal measure and often he can be greedy at the expense of others however his close control and confidence to beat players in the box last night was a pleasure to watch. He should have had a third goal but his volley was almost too perfect and it was blocked on the line.
Most of us would have been aware of the stars of the Dutch team but the majority of the squad is made up of young Eridivisie players or squad players from Europe’s 2nd to 3rd tier teams. It is these players together with an often previously lacking team spirit and unity that could win the Dutch their first Word Cup.