Story of the game
The Netherlands well and truly silenced current champions Spain on Friday. In the same match that was contested in the 2010 final, Holland shone and tasted sweet revenge. Having gone 1-0 down in the first half, they came back to win 5-1, against all the odds. Spain never really got a foothold in the game, even after they took the lead.
The game started tensely and with a slow tempo. However, an early chance fell to Wesley Sneijder but Iker Casillas was equal to the effort, palming the ball away relatively comfortably, Sneijder will no doubt feel he should have done better.
Though on the 27th minute, Diego Costa was brought down by Dutch defender Stevan de Vrij in the penalty area. The ref pointed to the spot with no hesitation, and Xabi Alonso stepped up to calmly slot the ball into the bottom left hand corner to give the Spaniards a 1-0 lead.
David Silva then had a glorious chance to make it two, but his attempted chip was saved by the keeper.
Silva and Spain were made to pay just three minutes later, as Daley Blind’s wonderful pass was directed over the head of Iker Casillas by Robin Van Persie’s emphatic diving header. A wonderful way to equalise, the Manchester United forward ran straight over to his manager Louis Van Gaal, who will also manage Van Persie next year at Old Trafford, to celebrate with him.
Holland picked up the second half how they finished the first, and were soon ahead. Just 8 minutes into the half, Arjen Robben picked the ball out of the air with a delightful first touch. After dummying Geard Pique, his shot deflected off Sergio Ramos and past the helpless Iker Casillas.
Robben continued to cause trouble for the failing Spanish defence, after a blistering run from the winger, the ball fell to Robin Van Persie who’s volleyed effort for a third struck the bar.
It was three just minutes later. Wesley Sneijder’s dangerous free kick from the left was scrambled in by Stefan de Vrij at the back post. Spanish keeper Casillas was claiming that he was impeded by Van Persie as he went for the ball, but replays showed that the ref made the right call in making the goal stand.
Things just got worse for Spain, and Casillas. Following a routine backpass, the keeper took a heavy touch and gifted the ball to Van Persie, who gladly took the ball past Casillas and rolled his second of the game in to an empty net, to make the score 4-1.
The goals didn’t stop there though, it was five when Arjen Robben ran half the pitch, outpacing Sergio Ramos, before dancing round Casillas and firing the ball into the top right corner of the net.
Two late chances occurred in the last couple of minutes for each team when Iker Casillas pulled off a double-save to prevent the score reaching 6 and when Fernando Torres embarrassingly blundered from just a couple of yards away from goal.
With the score finishing 5-1, Spain will no doubt be wounded by the heavy loss and it seems unlikely that they will retain the title after such a soul-destroying opener.
Spain XI: Casillas, Azplicueta, Piqué, Ramos, Alba, Busquets, Alonso (63?), Xavi, Silva (78?), Iniesta, Costa (63?)
Subs: Pedro (63?), Torres (63?), Cesc (78?)
Goals: Alonso (27?)
Holland XI: Cillessen; Janmaat, Vlaar, De Vrij (77 ’) , Martins Indi, Blind; De Guzman (62’), Sneijder, De Jong; Robben, Van Persie (79’)
Subs: Winjald (62’), Joel Veltman (77’), Lens (79’)
Goals: Van Persie (44’, 72’), Robben (53’,80’), de Vrij (65’)
Iker Casillas – 5. Good stop to prevent Sneijder at the beginning. Awful second half and fully to blame for the fourth goal. Good double stop at the end.
Cesar Azpilicueta – 5. Very quiet but should have done better dealing with Blind.
Jordi Alba – 5. Again very quiet and didn’t have much to do with the game.
Sergio Ramos – 5. Poor game from Ramos, could have done much better with a few goals.
Gerard Pique – 4. Out of sync with Ramos and no communication, shares the blame for a few goals with Ramos.
Xavi – 6. Outnumbered in midfield and looked little, good pass through to Costa for the penalty.
Xabi Alonso – 6. Very calm and cool penalty, uninvolved after.
Sergio Busquets – 6. Showed glimpses of class in the first half but not seen in the second half.
Andres Iniesta – 5. Big let down for Spain, not seen enough and didn’t look like hw anted to be there.
Diego Costa – 6. Looked decent in the first half, made some good runs and did well for the penalty. Another player who faded out in the second.
David Silva – 7. Possibly the brightest spark for the Spaniards, looked creative.
SUBS: Torres 4, Pedro 5, Fabregas N/A
Jasper Cillessan – 7. Couldn’t stop the penalty but did well to stop Silva.
Daryl Janmaat – 6. Quiet, but solid game from Janmaat.
Bruno Martins Indi – 7. Very solid and strong performance, didn’t put a foot wrong.
Ron Vlaar – 7. Very strong perfoamce from Vlaar, kept the line well.
Stefan de Vrij – 7. Careless mistake for the penalty but made up for it with scoring at the other end. Looked comfortable throughout.
Nigel De Jong – 7. Strong challenges and did well for his side.
Wesley Sneijder – 7. Looked good in second half and added a different dimension to the dutch attack.
Daley Blind – 7.5. Excellent ball to Van Persie for the first goal and caused Spain problems.
Jonathan De Guzman – 6.5. Looked comfortable but struggled to get into the game.
Arjen Robben – 9. Fantastic display and caused Spain a lot of problems, topped it off with two well taken goals.
Robin Van Persie – 8. Amazing header for first goal, unlucky when he struck the bar and got an easy second goal.
SUBS: Windjaldum 6, Veltman N/A, Lens N/A.
Referee, Nicola Rizzoli: 7. Got big decisions right and let the game flow.
Man of the match
Arjen Robben without a shadow of a doubt was the main man for the Dutch. He caused the Spaniards endless problems in the second half with his running at defence and his determination. He took his two goals very well, and his second goal optimised his performance; fast running, determination and composure. Definitely the spark for the Netherlands and will be the one for them in their campaign.
I was also very impressed by Robin Van Persie, who seemed comfortable in his performance.