Louis van Gaal’s Netherlands demolished current World Champions Spain 5-1 in a re-run of the 2010 final.
The Netherlands went into the game without much expectation on their side which unlike their opposition, was much changed from 2010.
And it was Spain who made the brighter although Wesley Sneijder had a glorious opportunity to give the Dutch the lead.
Spain continued to dominate possession and took the lead through a Xabi Alonso penalty after Diego Costa, jeered by sections of the crowd for his decision to represent Spain. But that was as good as it got for the Spanish.
David Silva had a great chance to make it two but his chipped effort was well saved by the Dutch keeper Cillessen.
Within two minutes, the Dutch were level. Robin van Persie scored with the goal of the game, converting a wonderful ball from Daley Blind with an exquisite diving header and from here the game changed.
The goal arrived just before half time and raised the spirits of the Dutch, and it showed in the second half.
The second half was one way traffic, with Arjen Robben, who ran the show, scoring to give the Netherlands the lead for the first time on the night.
Stefan de Vrij, the man who gave away the penalty, forced in a third from Wesley Sneijder’s free-kick and Robin Van Persie started to make things embarrassing for the holders when he dispossessed goalkeeper Iker Casillas to make it four.
A brilliant solo effort from Arjen Robben rounded off the emphatic win which will lead to serious questions being asked about Spain, and whether they have ‘past their sell-by date.’
As bad as Spain were, the Netherlands were brilliant. Van Persie, Robben and Sneijder linked up fantastically and they looked assured at the back. Daley Blind was another who played magnificently.
The victory will be extra sweet for the Dutch considering many of the world’s media, including their own, had written them off before the tournament had even started.
End of an era for Spain?
Their key-players are aging, there is no doubt about it. And it is showing. Casillas, who hasn’t featured regularly for Real Madrid this season was less than convincing and the likes of Xavi, Xabi Alonso and Iniesta clearly tired in the 2nd half, with Xabi Alonso being hauled off on the hour mark.
In truth, the whole of the Spanish side were poor in the second half, it was as if Holland, as Brazil did 12 months ago in the Confederations Cup, had worked out just how to stop Spain.
Arjen Robben was the instigator as he drove at the Spanish defence with the ball and Pique and Ramos, usually so reliable, just couldn’t cope.
It has only been in recent days that manager Vincent Del Bosque had to defend his aging squad claiming that they weren’t passed it and that they would compete in Brazil.
Now not only will he have to convince the media, but maybe his squad too.
They now have arguably a win or bust fixture against Chile on Wednesday (20:00) and Del Bosque will have a big decision whether to stick with his experienced players or whether to bring through the new blood like Koke and Javi Martinez as they try to resurrect this campaign.
It certainly will be interesting to see but I wouldn’t write off Spain just yet.