The Day in 100 Words or Less
Spain entered the day having won 47 and lost just one of their last 54 competitive matches since October, 2006. They go to bed having suffered the heaviest defeat of any reigning World Cup champion, conceding five goals in a game for the first time since 1963. It was a landmark day, one that could well have brought down the curtain on one of the greatest eras in international football.
Spain 1-5 Netherlands
- It was a day when the world champions were humiliated. There were some – including this writer – who felt Spain would lose and were vulnerable. No one saw the manner in which it went down.
- It was a day when the Dutch's dynamic duo embarrassed the Spanish captain and quite possibly ended his international career.
- It was about being clinical. Dutch detractors didn't think they had enough but if you have genuine world class finishers like Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben then you have a chance. Four years ago they didn't take their chances; this time they did.
- As it happened they got three half chances and an absolute gift combining to score four of the five goals.
- We were told it was a rematch of the 2010 World Cup but there was no direct line to be drawn between Johannesburg and Salvador aside from the two countries involved. The teams were dressed in different colours and they couldn't have played any differently.
- It turned on one of the greatest headed goals you will ever see. Sergio Ramos, who had a nightmare match, failed to recognize the run of van Persie, or the ball played by the excellent Daley Blind, and the Manchester United man sprinted in and headed brilliantly over Iker Casillas. It was the perfect time to score, right before half-time.
Spain had gotten their lead after a Brazilian had won a penalty in controversial circumstances for the second straight day. We will remember that for now but we should remember the pass from Xavi, to Diego Costa to win it, for a lifetime.
- The Dutch kept their nerve. Wesley Sneijder, despite picking up a yellow, stayed tight on Sergio Busquets. It was this time, at 1-0, that will be forgotten but that was so crucial.
- They also got away with one. Less than a minute before the goal Andres Iniesta played one of the best passes you will see, a no-look give to David Silva who should have made it 2-0 but was too tentative on the ball.
- Spain were abysmal in defence. The first goal was bad enough but it got worse as the game went on. Robben checked his run and confused Gerard Pique for the second goal, before finishing brilliantly, and on the fifth goal they were countered for fun and Sergio Ramos was skinned by the Bayern Munich man.
- Quite unusually, given the game was over, there was a lot to take from a 5-1 goal. Sneijder picked up the ball deep and immediately looked for Robben. To follow the script, YouTube the second goal scored against Cameroon in 2010 and Robben's goal vs. Slovakia in the last 16. It followed the same pattern, with their creator picking up the ball and hitting Robben quickly on the right. This time, however, the Dutch maestro got in behind a high defensive line rather than cutting back and doing the damage in front of the defenders.
- For Casillas it also highlighted more concerns. Ramos was clearly beaten and you can see him on the buildup desperate for his 'keeper to come out and help.
- The skipper, who was fouled by van Persie in the build-up to the third goal, had a nightmare giveaway to make it 4-1 and was very apprehensive on the fifth, while Ramos clearly didn't want to go down and risk an unnecessary red card. It was very evident that Spain didn't know what to do when trailing and before they knew it they were two... then three... then four down.
- Vicente Del Bosque has been very loyal to the men who won him three straight trophies but how he reacts to this will be fascinating. It is clear the Real Madrid man is not what he was, as shown in the Champions League final, and the manager may have to make a big call and drop him for their next game.
- Regardless, Spain are in deep trouble. They lost their opening game of the last World Cup and progressed with six points. They can now only hope to do the same but even if they win both games, if Chile beats Netherlands and Netherlands beats Australia then they would likely be eliminated on goal difference.
Mexico 1-0 Cameroon
- The World Cup needed a day without controversy regarding the officials. Instead, after just ten minutes of the opening game of the day, the spotlight shone even brighter on the men in black. Giovani dos Santos had two legitimate goals called off in the first half for offside by the same linesman.
- However, while day one's error was down to pure incompetence by an official it was hard to put these mistakes in the same category. What it does is highlight just how difficult it is for one man to look at two different things at the same time. He has the right to make a call but the sport equally has the right to not have to be a slave to it. The second error was the most frustrating one because the man in charge should have overruled his assistant. He was in the box and had a much clearer look that the ball deflected off a Cameroon defender en route to dos Santos.
- As it happened justice was served as Mexico came out worthy winners, Oribe Peralta carrying on his reputation as a goal-scoring machine for the national team, picked up a rebound and placed the ball into the net just after the hour. They won by a goal but the two disallowed ones could still cost them. The likely scenario of Brazil beating Mexico and Croatia defeating Cameroon next could mean Croatia have a better goal-difference and would only need to draw their final game against Mexico.
- Mexico's positives included the attacking play of Miguel Layun on the left, the form of dos Santos and the excellent distribution of Jose Vazquez in the middle, with him making 44 of 45 passes in the first half when he constantly had three outlets to pick from when he got the ball.
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- Cameroon adjusted to this after half-time with Stephane Mbia and Alex Song pressing higher (Vazquez was just 16-of-19 in the second half) but other teams will need to react to that quicker. Croatia, in particular, will need Mateo Kovacic to sit on him and stop that, while trying to play into space in behind their fullbacks. Mexico allowed a very average full back in Benoit Assou-Ekotto far too much space and he had a good game because of it.
- I will be very surprised if Cameroon gets a point in this tournament. They are a shambles. Brazil could get six against them. Neymar? He'll be licking his lips to play them. They have some power but lack positional awareness and fitness. To me, they wouldn't look out of place in England's second tier, the Championship, and might even be in a relegation battle.
Chile 3-1 Australia
- For the first twenty minutes Chile looked like a potential World Champion. In defence they looked like a team who will go home after the group stages. It seems their final destination will be somewhere in between but there was very little surprises on show by Jorge Sampaoli's men.
- Much of the first half was played in Australia's half, with Chile dominating possession (74 per cent) of the first half but this is a team that allowed more goals per game in qualifying than any team and they do allow chances.
- Australia's direct style worked and it surprised no one when Tim Cahill rose above Gary Medel to head home and make it 2-1.
- Chile had started at a breathtaking pace, scoring two goals in three minutes with Alexis Sanchez finishing one and creating the other.
- I was delighted for Jorge Valdivia who has had a rough time as an international footballer in recent years but is very important in this system. Without Mati Fernandez, Chile need a playmaker to connect with Sanchez and he gives them that.
- Much like Brazil on day one it was a case of 'job done' for Chile but they were far from impressive, particularly in the second half. World Cups are about building momentum but Sampaoli's men will want to work on increasing their tempo in other games.
Man of the Day
Giovani dos Santos – Once again another excellent performance for his national team. We have seen this story before from him and he certainly is someone who rises to the occasion. It will be interesting to see what he can do against two much more respectable opponents.
Louis Van Gaal – The diary asked yesterday whether the Dutch were brave enough to go with five at the back and they did. Playing Robben next to Van Persie was a masterstroke
Robin Van Persie – He ran, he leaped, he headed, he face-planted, he celebrated and he changed the game.
Arjen Robben – His goals were magnificent and he made world class defenders look like they should be playing in a pub league.
Tim Cahill – Chile won the game but the New York Red Bulls man was the reason it was an absorbing contest. His goal meant he was the first Australian to score goals in three World Cups.
Arjen Robben – Very few players can score the goals the Bayern Munich man did today. He has waited four years to have a shot at Spain on a big stage and after winning the Champions League last year he added another monumental performance in a big game to his resume.
What Comes Next?
If you are single then get in the food and drink and sit on the couch. The only day of the World Cup with four games played at different times comes Saturday. Colombia vs Greece Noon et/9am pt, Uruguay vs Costa Rica 3pm et/Noon pt, England vs Italy 6pm et/3pm pt and Ivory Coast vs Japan 9pm et/6pm pt.
Burning Question for Tomorrow
Who will track Andrea Pirlo for England?
Key stat of Day 2
Fifteen goals have been scored through the first four games of the World Cup. It took nine games in 2010 before the 15th goal of the tournament went in.