Four years ago the world sat and watched Spain and The Netherlands play in the World Cup final. One of the talking points was the rough and tumble style that The Netherlands is known for. Nigle De Jong admitted that he expected and deserved a red card in the 28th minute for the boot to Xabi’s chest and with a second yellow in the 109th to Heitinga, the Dutch eventually did go down to ten men. With 14 yellows, nine of which were earned by the Netherlands, it was the most card heavy final ever.
The other major discussion came thanks to Spain’s style of play, the so called ticky-tacca futbal where possession was the name of the game. They would wear their opponents out running and chasing the one-two touch passes and, at least in my opinion, is the most boring style of footy imaginable.
For 110 minutes the game consisted of possession by Spain and frustration and fouling by The Netherlands till Iniesta scored with a half volley after a pass coming from Fàbregas in the 116th.
Cut to 2014, and the opening match of Group B saw Spain face The Netherlands in the rematch of the 2010 final. It began where the final left off with The Netherlands’ Stefan de Vrij giving up a penalty for a challenge on Diego Costa witch Alonso converted, but then everything changed. Robin van Persie scored a 15-yard header just before half time in Superman style fashion dubbing him the flying Dutchman and with The Netherlands retaining only 43% of the possession ended the game 5 goals to Spain’s one, the largest defeat by a champion and the worst loss Spain suffered since 1950.
Yet Spain still had a chance to get back into the fight to advance from the group. It would require them to win the game against Chile who had previously beaten Australia. The match began with Chile coming out strong scoring two goals in the first half, the game eventually ending with that score line.
Questions will be asked of Spain’s players including whether fatigue was a factor, seeing 10 of the 23 man roster very recently played in the Champions League final that was not only a physical game but lasted more than 125 minutes after a 93 minute tying goal from Real Madrid sent it into overtime. Questions will also be asked of the management staff after the first shellacking by The Dutch brought only two changes to the lineup verses Chile including not replacing an invisible Sergio Busquets and even though I don’t agree the blame of Iker Casillas in goal was a large talking point in the blogs and with the media.
So what is the take away from Spain’s performance in this world cup, individual brilliance does not a team make and ticky-taca futbal is dead.