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
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.
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