Friday, June 13, 2014

How Holland beat Spain 5-1 at the Fifa 2014 World Cup

It turned out to be an extremely entertaining and tactical battle of the giants when the Spanish played the Dutch in their opening group match. Despite the numerical systems employed by each team, what dominated their display were the functions of the players in their units. The quest to dominate play in midfield and neutralise the power of the other made the match not so easy to the eye until Spain got their grove back and stitched a few passes and moves together through Iniesta and Xavi, but Holland got the goals from the evergreen Robin van Persie.

The reigning champions had an extra edge in midfield as they operated what appeared to be an odd 1-4-6 while the Dutch retaliated with their unconventional 1-5-5. Spain struggled with the final pass as Diego Costa seemed out of sync with his mates. The interplay in midfield was thwarted but tight marking, though the closing down by the Dutch was a little slow and the West Europeans did not capitalise.

For their part, The Netherlands had few players behind the ball at the beginning and gave possession quite easily. It was at one of those occasions that they gave away the ball, failed to close down the opposition and never pressurised the man with the ball that a splitting pass beat seven defenders to Costa who was given room to turn and his trailing leg was caught by a defender, earning him a penalty.

As a rule of thump, the defender was supposed to stay on his feet, keep Costa facing away from the goal on his weaker foot, but the rush of blood in the head saw a rushed decision that resulted in a converted penalty kick by Xavi Alonso. The Spanish were guilty of losing possession easily. A long pass from the D-zone to the left midfield position was played on two touches, as a long searching ball to Robin van Persie who timed his run perfectly, executed a spectacular diving header that looped over Ike Casillas for an equaliser. There was no pressure on the man on the ball, no marking in midfield and the central defenders were far apart. The man nearest to RVP did not see the man and the ball, but just ball watched.

The second half saw the Dutch taking command of proceedings, causing a few concerns for the Spanish. The later easily lost possession in the middle of the park as the former knitted five passes before sending a long ball into the box where the Spanish central defenders were again found way separate. Arjen Robben had to bring the ball down, turn Pique inside out, showing AR his shirt number. Robben had to deal with a stretching defender and beat Casillas with a hard and low shot.

There was a tussle on the left as Robben had a fantastic run on the left and fought for the ball hard, which resulted in the free-kick. A flighted ball to the far-post was missed by the goalkeeper and there was no defender on the far post and the challenge offered was just token.

Casillas failed to deal with a back-pass and gifted RVP with a goal. He had to fight for the ball, compete to get to the ball and toe-poke it before the recovering defender got close. Jose Mourinho should be justifying his lack of trust on the Spain number one goalkeeper while at Real Madrid.

Spain tried to fight back and took the fight to the Dutch. In their quest to penetrate from the right with interplay, they lost the ball almost at the corner flag. The Dutch sent a long ball to the centre and AR chased and ran the entire half of the field, found the energy to control the ball after drawing the goalkeeper. Casillas was flattened on his bums as Robben swept to his left as he hooked the ball, dummied the two defenders and fired a powerful pile driver into the net. It became a clinical Dutch masterpiece as the match ended 5-1, a record score-line against reigning Fifa World Cup champions.