Filed under: Netherlands beats Spain, Uncategorized | Tags: 1950 World Cup, 2010 World Cup, Arjen Robben, Atletico Madrid, Belo Horizonte, Brazil, England, France, Germany, Group "B", Group of Death, Iker Casillas, Joe Gaetjens, Korea/Japan 2002, Netherlands, Oranje, Portugal, Real Madrid, Robin Ban Persie, Salvador, Selecao, Senegal, Spain, Stefan de Vrij, U.S., UEFA Champions League, Xabi Alonso
The Netherlands dismantled defending world champion Spain, 5-1, in its Group “B” opener in Salvador to avenge its loss to the Spaniards in the 2010 World Cup final.
Strikers Robin Van Persie and Arjen Robben each scored twice and defender Stefan de Vrij once to wipe out an early Spanish lead created by Xabi Alonso’s penalty kick.
The shocking margin of defeat was the worst for Spain in a World Cup since its last appearance in Brazil, in 1950, when it was humbled by the hosts, 6-1, in a final pool match. It also marked the first time a reigning world champ has dropped the first game of its title defense since France was upended by Senegal, 1-0, at Korea/Japan ’02. That team infamously crashed out in the first round without winning a game or scoring a goal. [June 13]
Comment I: Amidst the Dutch jubilation, was there a sadder sight than Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas’ expression moments after his careless giveaway gifted Van Persie’s second goal? And this, nearly three weeks after his blunder against Atletico Madrid nearly cost his club, Real Madrid, the UEFA Champions League final.
Spain may yet recover from this dreadful collapse and still make an impact on this World Cup, but at the moment, the face of its team is, fittingly, its captain, the one-time boy wonder who made his Real debut at 17. He’s now 33. Not a senior citizen as goalkeepers go, but like most of the team, not prime time.
Comment II: Despite the grave concern by U.S. fans over their team being drawn into the so-called “Group of Death” and having to travel a total of some 9,000 miles for its first three games, there is a bit of consolation that’s been overlooked.
That was on display during the Netherlands-Spain match in the form of the spectators. Fans of the Oranje were loud, of course, but much louder were the thousands and thousands of Brazilians, who were more than happy to see a team they considered a larger threat to their beloved Selecao go down in flames.
Count on Brazilians, who will out-number supporters of the participating teams at the USA’s games against Portugal and Germany by a wide margin, to be solidly behind the Americans, who they would much rather see Brazil face later in the tournament than the No. 4-ranked Portuguese or No. 2-ranked Germans.
Doubt it? Go back to the 1950 World Cup in Brazil, where the U.S. shocked mighty England, 1-0, in Belo Horizonte. America was represented by a team of semi-pros while the English, inventors of the game, were playing in their first World Cup after blithely skipping the first three. The U.S. closed out the final minutes of the match to the roars of the crowd of 10,000, most of them Brazilians, and after the final whistle, newspapers were set ablaze in the stands in celebration while a crowd of happy locals carried the goal-scorer, Joe Gaetjens, off the field on their shoulders.
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