LIVE - Spain 1, Netherlands 5: Oranje run wild on world champions

June 13, 4:42 PM

In one of the most stunning games in World Cup history, the Netherlands lead reigning world champions Spain 5-1. 

Arjen Robben is the latest Dutch attacker to add to Spain's misery, notching his second goal of the game after streaking down the field and toying with Spanish defenders in their own box. 

Feature photo courtesy of Reuters/Tony Gentile

June 13, 5:46 PM

Spain 1, Netherlands 5: How Holland came to dominate the defending champs

June 13, 5:46 PM

It wasn't even close.

After converting a first-half penalty (on a highly questionable foul in the box) to take the lead, Spain was dominated by a suddenly attack-oriented Dutch side, that was as relentless as they were successful.

It wasn't so much payback for the defeat in the finals four years ago, as it was a sort of karmic leveling of all that hasn't gone Holland's way in the past. Five goals against any side in the World Cup is an accomplishment, but five goals against the defending champions who only allowed two goals in their title win ... well, that's something else, isn't it?

The Goals

PENALTY GOAL! Xabi Alonso (MEX), 27 min. Of all the penalties ever seen by football fans, Xabi Alonso’s was indeed one of them. The defensive midfielder stepped up, and scored after the sock on Diego Costa’s left leg was brushed by Stefan de Vrij, and the Spanish forward went down in the box.

GOAL! Robin van Persie (NED), 44 min. Speechless.

GOAL! Arjen Robben (NED), 53 min. Robben brought down a beautiful cross from Daley Blind, shifted the ball from his right foot to his left, and fired past a helpless Casillas.

GOAL! Stefan de Vrij (NED), 64 min. GOAL! A free-kick from the left side was put on the far post, where defender Stefan de Vrij sent it into the back of the net almost in spite of himself. It bounced off his head, hit his shin and trailed in. Meanwhile, Casillas was slapped in the face by Bruno Martins Indi to add insult to injury.

GOAL! Robin van Persie (NED), 72 min. R.I.P. Iker Casillas. The ‘keeper slid feet first into a ball in the box, giving it straight to a lurking Robin van Persie, who put the ball away as professionally as can be done in a World Cup match.

GOAL! Arjen Robben (NED), 80 min. Robben outran Pique and Ramos on a through ball, cut back onto his left foot to send Casillas to rot, then blasted a finish past two desperate defenders on the goal line.

Man of the Match - Robben van Blind

Take your pick from among Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben and Daley Blind for Man of the Match. While van Persie and Robben both had a brace, so much of the attack went through Blind. His crosses were either right on the feet of his teammates or just out of reach of his opponents.

Blind split his time this season as a left back and defensive midfielder this year. He doesn’t have the pace typically needed to find success at fullback, and his prowess as a defensive midfielder is the result of tactical smarts more than physicality. In other words, he’s perfect for the wing-back role that Louis van Gaal has put him in.

The Controversies

Boo. Every time Brazilian-born, Spain-playing Diego Costa touched the ball, he was booed mercilessly. In Costa’s defense, he’s playing for Spain because they gave him a call. Brazil didn't show the same level of interest after Costa appeared in two friendlies for Scolari in 2013. Easy decision.

In the 26th minute, Diego Costa received the ball behind the Dutch back line, and looked to be stopped by Stefan de Vrij, but the follow through of the tackle attempt nicked him enough to bring him down, or at least enough to allow Costa to make it look like it brought him down. The referee didn’t hesitate to point to the spot.

Will Spain go with David de Gea against Chile, now?

What did the winning team do to win?

When you bring the play to Spain, things have an odd way of working out. We saw it in the final of the Confederations Cup last year, and we saw it again today. After conceding the first goal on a penalty, the Dutch stopped looking to counter, and instead focused on attack. They were successful, and then instead of going back to a counter attack, they kept pushing.

Five at the back sounds like the foundation of a defensive formation, but by using Daley Blind to push up the left flank and act as a left midfielder or even left winger, van Gaal found the perfect compliment to the attacking triumvirate of van Persie, Robben and Wesley Sneijder.

It also helps when Ron Vlaar plays like a boss. The Aston Villa center back played more to the right than he did in the previous friendlies using the 5-3-2, and he was so effective, not only in stopping challenges, but also in allowing the less experienced de Vrij and Martins Indi to work together.

The 1,000 Words

The Takeaway

In addition to having beat the favorites in their group, the Dutch put up a plus four goal differential in what could still be a battle to go through to the next round. Winning this group is vital because second place in Group B plays first place in Brazil’s group in the Round of 16.

For Spain, yikes. They play Chile on Wednesday in what is now a do-or-die match.

Stray Thoughts

Did you notice who Robin van Persie ran to after scoring the equalizer? Straight to Louis van Gaal. Then, the entire squad ran to celebrate together. I know the in-fighting is always a nice narrative to rely on, but this Dutch squad — despite the training tussle between Martins Indi and Robben — look in sync.

They need to work on their high-fives, however. That was rough.

Andres Iniesta is just so good. And so fast. He ran down Jonathan de Guzman in less than a second despite being five yards behind him when the Dutchman got the ball. Both men were going all out.

Bruno Martins Indi isn't the biggest man on the pitch, but his intensity today made him the most intimidating. Twice today, skirmishes after a whistle ended very quickly upon Martins Indi's entrance.

Wesley Sneijder's finishing, today? Woof. Woof.

For all the haters, out there, Robben has a message:

Your Moment Of Voetbal

Feature photo courtesy of REUTERS/Tony Gentile

June 13, 5:07 PM

FINAL - Spain 1, Netherlands 5: The Dutch humiliate the reigning world champions

June 13, 5:07 PM

Is this the end of Spain's reign? Is tiki-taka dead? Can Iker Casillas be trusted again?

There are no answers to be found for reigning the world champions after a merciless thrashing at the hands of 2010 runners-up the Netherlands. On a wet night in Salvador, Spain was thoroughly humiliated by a heat-seeking Netherlands side seeking revenge for its fate four years ago.

Spain opened the scoring on a Xabi Alonso penalty kick after striker Diego Costa was fouled (just barely) and briefly looked like the Spain of old, but it was short-lived.

Dutch striker Robin Van Persie scored a sublime diving header just before the first half expired and Arjen Robben gave his side the lead shortly after play resumed.

From there, the rout was on. Long-time Spanish captain Casillas looked like a broken player, missing a punch to give the Dutch their third goal and bungling an easy play in his box to hand the Oranje their fourth.

Somehow, that wasn't even the end of the misery. The Netherlands notched a fifth and the night ended with Robben blowing kisses to the crowd and Group B was suddenly blown wide open.

There was always something a little off about this evening. Inexplicably, the Oranje wore blue and La Roja wore white. No one could have predicted this outcome, however. On just the second day of the tournament, the soccer world has one of its biggest stories in years.

Feature photo courtesy of Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch

June 13, 4:24 PM

LIVE - Spain 1, Netherlands 2: Torres, Pedro enter for Spain, Wijnaldum for Netherlands

June 13, 4:24 PM

With the Netherlands holding a 2-1 lead over Spain and threatening to add to the deficit, both sides made their first substitutions of the World Cup.

Perhaps looking for an offensive spark, Spanish coach Luis Felipe Scolari inserted forward Fernando Torres and midfielder Pedro in place of Diego Costa and Xabi Alonso, respectively.

Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal inserted Georginio Wijnaldum for Jonathan De Duzman. 

Feature photo courtesy of Action Images/Paul Childs

June 13, 4:15 PM

LIVE - Spain 1, Netherlands 2: Robben rockets Oranje to lead

June 13, 4:15 PM

It's a rematch of the 2010 World Cup final, but it certainly isn't a recreation of that nervous, often violent match.

2010 finalists Spain and the Netherlands put on a blistering offensive show in Salvador. It's thrilling stuff. 

After Robin Van Persie's sublime diving header drew the Dutch equal late in the first half, Arjen Robben put his side up 2-1 on the defending world champions with a goal he set up with two absurdly precise touches in the box. 

Spain allowed only two goals over the course of the entire 2010 tournament. They matched that total in just 53 minutes of play in Brazil.

Feature photo courtesy of Action Images/Paul Childs

June 13, 3:54 PM

LIVE - Spain 1, Netherlands 1: Van Persie equalizes with brilliant diving header

June 13, 3:54 PM

The 2010 World Cup finalists are putting on a show in Salvador.

After reigning champions Spain burst out to a 1-0 lead following a penalty kick goal by Xabi Alonso, the Dutch struck back with a 44th-minute goal that will surely rank as one of this tournament's very best. 

Dutch captain Robin Van Persie dipped into his bag of tricks and pulled out a splendid diving header that must be seen to be believed.

[Courtesy: CBC]

Daley Blind delivered the long pass, and Van Persie never considered a touch with his foot, instead launching himself into the air to direct the ball past Iker Casillas and into the back of the net. 

1-1. Game on.

The goal came just moments after Dutch goaltender Jasper Cillesen prevented a 2-0 Spain lead with a monstrous save on a nifty chip by David Silva. 

Strap yourselves in. The second half cannot disappoint.

Feature photo courtesy of Action Images/Paul Childs

June 13, 3:37 PM

LIVE - Spain 1, Netherlands 0: Alonso scores on penalty, gives world champions early lead

June 13, 3:37 PM

The world champions didn't wait long to get on the board in Brazil.

[Courtesy: CBC]

After Spanish foward Diego Costa was taken down in the box by Dutch defender Stefan De Vrij, midfielder Xabi Alonso stepped up and slotted his penalty kick into the lower corner of the net to give Spain a 1-0 lead in the 27th minute. 

The penalty call surely won't sit well with the Dutch, as the foul was anything but a hard one. The contact to Costa 's ankle was undeniable, however, and it certainly didn't hurt his cause that he went sprawling to the ground. 

Feature photo courtesy of Reuters/Michael Dalder

June 13, 3:16 PM

LIVE - Spain 0, Netherlands 0: Casillas denies early Sneijder strike

June 13, 3:16 PM

The final two teams standing at the 2010 World Cup took to the pitch in Salvador on Friday to kick off their 2014 campaigns in what promises to be an unforgiving Group B.

After the familiar foes spent the first few minutes of the match getting reaccustomed to each other, Dutch midfielder Wesley Sneijder burst through the Spanish defense for a glorious breakaway opportunity on goal. 

Sneijder's aim was unlucky (and in a game that saw him earn his 100th cap, no less), as his strike was easily cast aside by long-time Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas. 

Feature photo courtesy of Getty/Quinn Rooney

June 13, 2:01 PM

Spain vs. Netherlands: Diego Costa starts for defending champions

June 13, 2:01 PM

The team sheets are out for Spain and the Netherlands as they kick off their 2014 World Cup campaigns in a rematch of 2010 final. There are no major surprises for either squad. 

As expected, strikers Diego Costa and Robin Van Persie will start despite recent injuries.

Spain (4-3-2-1)

Casillas; Azplicueta, Piqué, Ramos, Alba; Busquets, Alonso, Xavi; Silva, Iniesta; Costa.

Netherlands (5-3-2)

Cillessen; Janmaat, Vlaar, De Vrij, Martins Indi, Blind; De Jong, De Guzmán, Sneijder; Robben, Van Persie

Feature photo courtesy of Reuters/Henry Romero

June 13, 12:13 PM

Spain vs. Netherlands: Preview

June 13, 12:13 PM

In a rematch of the 2010 World Cup final, defending champions Spain look to kick-off a campaign that, if successful, would see the squad win an unprecedented fourth consecutive major tournament. Spain's place in history is already established in the eyes of many, but exiting Brazil with a second World Cup title (and the first ever by a European nation in South America) would cement the team's status as the greatest international side of all time.

A win for the Dutch would help mend the millions of hearts broken by Andres Iniesta's extra-time goal in Johannesburg, but more importantly, it would also place the side in excellent position to advance through one of this tournament's toughest groups. With a strong Chile side widely expected to dispatch Australia in Group B's other contest Friday, the loser of Spain-Netherlands will find itself with a treacherous road to traverse to the knockout stage.

The Details

Teams: Spain vs. Netherlands

Time: 3 PM EST

Venue: Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador

Television: ESPN (U.S. - English), Univision and ESPN Deportes (U.S. - Spanish), CBC (Canada)

Injury Update

 

Both sides should have the services of key strikers whose health was in question in the weeks leading up to the tournament. 

Brazilian-born Spanish striker Diego Costa says he's fully recovered from the hamstring injury that forced him from the Champions League final after only nine minutes of play (despite the widley publicized horse placenta treatmenthe traveled to Servia to receive). Barring a surprise, Costa will start ahead of David Villa.

On the Dutch side, striker Robin Van Persie is expected to play without limitations despite his withdrawal at half-time from a recent friendly against Wales with an apparent groin injury. The Manchester United star probably feels lucky he's fit, as he escaped potentially serious injury in a bizarre incident days ago at Ipanema beach in Rio de Janeiro that saw him collide with a rogue kitesurfer and suffer reported cuts and a headache.

Spainish  left-back Jordi Alba is also expected to play. He's dealing with blisters on his feet.

Historic Head-To-Head

The 2010 final is the only prior meeting between these two teams at the World Cup, but they've met eight other times, with the Netherlands winning four and drawing one.

Those contests must feel like ancient history, however, as Iniesta's dramatic strike remains one of sports' most salient images this century.

Can the Dutch get their revenge?

3 Things To Watch

Costa's reception

Costa's decision to play for Spain and not his birth nation should draw the ire of fans in Salvador, especially because the move was so recent. Costa appeared in two friendlies with Brazil only a year ago, but chose in October to suit up for the nation he's made his home since 2007. 

Costa said he made the decisionbecause Spanish coach Vicente Del Bosque showed a greater desire for him than Brazilian coach Luis Felipe Scolari. Scolari responded by accusing Costa of "turning his back on the dream of millions."

For his part, Costa sounds like he's entering the match with hopes the host nation won't hold his decision against him.

"Many people in Brazil understand what went on. Things are going well for me," he said. "They have treated me well, just the way I hoped. I have the support of a lot of people who know what happened."

Bad blood?

Everyone remembers Iniesta's winning goal in Johannesburg, but what is occasionally forgotten is how brutally violent the match was. Perhaps knowing their most likely path to victory was winning the battle of attrition with pure brute strength, the Dutch side battered Spain's skilled attackers with repeated hard fouls.

The Dutch received nine yellow cards that night (including two for John Heitinga), and Spain added five of its own. 

Hoisting the trophy may have eased any feelings of ill will in the Spaniards' hearts, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see another chippy contest. 

Looking past the opener?

There's debate as to which group at this tournament truly deserves the ominous qualifier "of death," but there's no debate that a very strong side won't survive Group B. Spain, Netherlands and Chile each rank in the top-15 of FIFA's world rankings, with Australia a distant 62nd. 

Knowing Chile should emerge with a win over Australia in their tournament opener, Spain and the Netherlands could decide preserving a tie in Friday's contest is more important than playing for a win. A loss for either side would essentially make a win over Chile necessary to ensure passage to the knockout stage. 

Feature photo courtesy of Action Images/Jason Cairnduff Livepic