Zee Media Bureau/Shobhan Saxena from Rio di Janeiro
It was dubbed as the rematch of the final of the 2010 World Cup. This time it ended in a different way. Taking advantage of errors of the Spanish defense, Holland wiped the floor with Spain as they humiliated the World Champions by beating them 5-1 at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Bahia, on Friday evening. The stadium was painted in orange as Holland took the revenge for their defeat in the World Cup final four years ago.
Whatever happens in this World Cup, this match will be remembered as a classic of this tournament.
Spain, which had the game in control for the first 20 minutes, opened the score after a dubious penalty in the first half. The equalizer came soon after, but the rout was consolidated in the second half when the Spaniards gave up and left spaces for Robben and Van Persie to excel and score two goals each. At the end of the match the fans dressed in orange were shouting “ole, ole" as they were ecstatic with this unexpected result.
As the first match between the two teams after the end of the last World Cup, the Dutch choked their rivals in midfield with violent fouls and hard marking. On the Spanish side, the talent of Iniesta and Xavi tested the inexperienced and insecure Dutch defense. With control of the ball, the current world champions opened the scoring with Xabi Alonso in a controversial penalty on Diego Costa.
But from the end of the first half, defensive errors from Spain took their toll. Van Persie scored the first goal with a diving volley. After that the flood gates opened and the Spanish side looked like an ordinary side which has lost both the control of the game as well as the desire to fight back.
With this defeat, Spain are now at the bottom of Group B.
The road ahead for Spain will be tougher now as Chile beat Australia 3-1 on Friday night at the Arena Pantanal in Cuiabá. With the victory, Chile now has three points and it is ahead of Spanish team. The number two team from the points table of Group B may meet Brazil in the next round if the host country tops its group.
In a game played in the lovely setting of Cuiaba where thousands of Chileans shouted and cheered for their team, Chile was brilliant in the first 15 minutes of play. With an excellent exchange of passes, the South American team made it 2-0 in the 12th and 14th minute and then relaxed. Only after the Australians pulled one back, the Chileans stepped on the gas again and scored one more in the dying moments of the game.
With this 3-1 victory over the Oceanic team, the Chileans are sitting pretty at the moment but they have to big games ahead – against Holland and Spain – that will decide if the South American side makes it to the next stage or not.
Though the 20th World Cup is just two days old, some interesting patterns are already emerging. With an average of 3.5 goals per game, this may be the highest scoring World Cup ever. That also means, it will become a graveyard for goalkeepers. Also in just two days, two controversial penalties – one for Brazil and second for Spain – indicate that the world’s best referees will face a tough test during a month of football in which 62 high-pressure games will be played between the best 32 teams in the world.
Well, the fun has just started.