5PAIN

So bru­tal, so ruth­less and so ef­fec­tive were the Dutch that they made the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons look like novices, al­most plung­ing them into an iden­tity cri­sis

DNA Sunday (Mumbai) - - SPORT -

Sal­vador: With one dis­as­trous re­sult, Spain’s World Cup cam­paign and over­all foot­balling iden­tity is fac­ing a cri­sis.

A 1- 5 loss to The Nether­lands on Fri­day to open Group B left many won­der­ing whether the team that has dom­i­nated world foot­ball since 2008 has fi nally lost their edge — and whether their core phi­los­o­phy can still re­main the same.

Spain also lost their fi rst game at the 2010 World Cup, but that was a 0- 1 de­feat against Switzer­land in a match they dom­i­nated. This time they were hu­mil­i­ated, and the loss may have dealt a psy­cho­log­i­cal blow that coach Vi­cente del Bosque only has five days to ad­dress be­fore a must­win match against Chile.

Del Bosque also has plenty of other ques­tions to ad­dress: does he stick with the core group of play­ers that have led the team to un­par­al­leled suc­cess over the past six years? Or does he need to give the na­tion’s famed ‘ tiki- taka’ sys­tem a re­vamp?

“Nor­mally if you beat Spain, it’s 1- 0,” Nether­lands de­fender Bruno Martins Indi said. “Five- one is not nor­mal be­cause they are amaz­ing play­ers, with a very good head coach, all v e r y ex­pe­ri­enced.”

S p a i n ’ s mid­field of An­dres Ini­esta, Xavi Her­nan­dez, and David Silva faded badly over the sec­ond half at the Arena Fonte Nova on Fri­day. Goal­keeper Iker Casil­las’s mis­takes cost Spain at least a pair of goals, while de­fend­ers Ger­ard Pique and Ser­gio Ramos were guilty of er­rors on the oth­ers.

Spain, whose de­fence has been stead­fast in leading them to con­sec­u­tive Euro­pean Cham­pi­onships along with their World Cup win in South Africa, were left in dis­be­lief af­ter the coun­try’s worst com­pet­i­tive de­feat in 64 years. If Del Bosque does de­cide to tinker with his lineup, he has plenty of op­tions.

Ei­ther Pepe Reina or David de Gea could be called on to re­place Casil­las, who has al­ready been rel­e­gated to a part- time role at Real Madrid for the last two sea­sons. Javi Martinez can eas­ily slot in at cen­tre back, while Spain’s wealth of midfi eld tal­ents means Cesc Fabre­gas, Koke, Santi Ca- zorla, or Juan Mata could eas­ily start against Chile. Del Bosque could have used a midfi el­der like Real Madrid’s Isco to pro­vide some fresh legs, or Bay­ern Mu­nich’s Thi­ago Al­can­tara who missed out with an in­jury. Tor­res re­placed Diego Costa in the sec­ond half but was largely in­ef­fec­tive.

Spain

It was the first time that a de­fend­ing cham­pion con­ceded five goals in their World Cup open­ing match

This was Spain’s worst de­feat in more than half a century, com­ing 51 years af­ter a 2- 6 de­feat to Scot­land in 1963

It was also the first time that Spain have con­ceded five goals in an in­ter­na­tional since that 2- 6 loss

Spain con­ceded more goals on Fri­day than in their last 10 games at World Cups and Euro­pean Cham­pi­onships com­bined Fly­ing Dutch­man: Robin van Per­sie scores the Nether­lands’ first goal with a div­ing header in a Group B match against Spain at Arena Fonte Nova in Sal­vador, Brazil, on Fri­day

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