Spain-Netherlands Live: Dutch Rout Defending Champs In 2014 World Cup Classic

Spain - Netherlands Arena Fonte NovaFinal, 5-1 Netherlands: It’s over. The Netherlands begins its 2014 World Cup campaign with a stunning victory over Spain.

The Netherlands confirmed itself as the neutrals’ favorite with a victory that will long live in the memories of fans around the world. Van Persie sparked the comeback with a goal that will be among the very best in the tournament. The flying header lifted the Dutch, who came out of the interval and unleashed a furious barrage of goals in Spain.

Van Gaal deserves the credit for the win. The Dutch head coach’s game plan maximized his team’s strenghts while forcing Spain to make adjustments on the fly.

Spain is in shock right now, and its second-half collapse should worry players, staff and fans alike. It’s too soon to call this result “the end of an empire,” but the cracks are there for all to see. Spain possessed the ball well but didn’t do it in a way that demoralized the Dutch. Spain was too often a step slow when defending, and Casillas’ prove that Spain’s focus isn’t at the level it was at Euro 2012 and the 2010 World Cup.

The result emphatically moves the Netherlands to the top of Group B. Spain is on the bottom, and its goal differential makes for grim reading.

Analysis of Spain-Netherlands >>

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87th minute, 5-1 Netherlands: The Dutch could have easily made it six.

Wijnaldum shot from inside the area, and Casillas made the save. A lazy clearance fell to Robben, who shot first time only for Casillas to make a stellar save.

80th minute, 5-1 Netherlands: Robben makes the rout official with his second goal of the thrilling second half.

Arjen Robben and Iker Casillas

The move started deep in the Netherlands’ half when de Jong played a first-time long pass into the Spain half, which sprung Robben forward. The stand-in Dutch captain outraced Ramos into the Spain area, dribbled around Casillas and shot past Ramos and Azpilicueta.

79th minute, 4-1 Netherlands: Lens replaces the flying Dutch hero van Persie.

Van Persie is overjoyed as he departs to a standing ovation.

78th minute, 4-1 Netherlands: Fabregas replaces Silva for Spain.

77th minute, 4-1 Netherlands: Van Gaal is making a change in an effort to shore up the Dutch defense. Veltman comes on for de Vrij, who picked up a yellow card earlier in the contest.

72nd minute, 4-1 Netherlands: It’s a calamity for Casillas, and van Persie extends the Netherlands’ lead.

Robin van Persie

It started when Casillas lost control of a routine back-pass. Van Persie pounced on the mis-touched ball, dispossessed the Spain goalkeeper, and shot into the empty goal.

70th minute, 3-1 Netherlands: Van Persie dribbles and shoots from distance, but Casillas makes a nonchalant kick save.

68th minute, 3-1 Netherlands: Spain thought it had clawed a goal back after Silva knocked in a rebound, but the referee’s assistant judged Silva to be offside.

66th minute, 3-1 Netherlands: Van Persie is cautioned.

65th minute, 3-1 Netherlands: Casillas is cautioned for protesting after de Vrij’s goal.

63rd minute, 3-1 Netherlands: The Dutch take a two-goal lead.

Stefan de Vrij

It came from a set piece. Robben drove a free kick into the area. Van Persie barged into Casillas, as the Spain goalkeeper attempted to intercept it, and it floated to the far post where de Vrij headed it in.

Iker Casillas, Stefan de Vrij

The first upset and classic game of the 2014 World Cup is unfolding before our eyes.

62nd minute, 2-1 Netherlands: Both teams are making changes.

Torres replaces Costa for Spain, while Wijnaldum come on for de Guzman in the Dutch midfield.

Spain makes a second switch. Pedro replaces Alonso.

53rd minute, 2-1 Netherlands: Robben scores a great goal of his own, and the Dutch have taken the lead.

Arjen Robben and Sergio Ramos

Blind found Robben with a long, diagonal pass into the Spain area. Robben brought it down with a splendid first touch (similar to the one Dennis Bergkamp used when he scored that goal in 1998), eluded Pique with a dribble and shot past Casillas before Ramos could arrive.

Halftime, 1-1: The first half comes to a close, and the score is tied.

Spain-Netherlands is turning into the showcase everyone hoped it would be, thanks to van Persie’s heroics. The Dutch captain officially brought the tournament to life with one of the great goals in recent memory.

The game was largely played at a slow tempo, perhaps due to the hot and humid conditions, but the quality of the players was evident throughout. Spain’s midfielders are creating openings with their sublime passing ability. The Dutch are breaking forward with speed and are capable of scoring unexpected goals because their attacking players are that good.

Costa won a disputed penalty, which assures that refereeing will remain a major talking point for at least another day at the World Cup.

44th minute, 1-1: Van Persie scores a fantastic goal. The game is tied.

Robin van Persie

The Dutch striker beat Spain’s offside trap. Blind crossed it into the Spain area, and van Persie beat Casillas with a diving header from 15 yards out.

43rd minute, 1-0 Spain: Silva has an excellent chance to double Spain’s lead, but Cillessen turns his effort away.

Iniesta created the opening with a perfect through-pass. Silva tried to beat the Dutch keeper with a chip, but Cillessen stood his ground and palmed it out for a corner kick.

41st minute, 1-0 Spain: De Vrij is cautioned for a professional foul on Silva in the midfield.

35th minute, 1-0 Spain: The Dutch have raised their game since Alonso’s goal.

Van Persie has found himself in threatening positions but was ruled offside and failed to connect with Blind’s cross a few minutes later.

27th minute, 1-0 Spain: Alonso rolls the penalty kick underneath the diving Cillessen. Spain takes the lead.

26th minute, 0-0: It’s a penalty kick for Spain.

De Vrij appeared to trip Costa in the penalty area. It was close call, but the referee pointed to the spot. Alonso steps up to take the penalty kick.

Xavi initially sent Costa into the area with an inch-perfect pass. Costa ran onto it, cut back and eluded de Vrij’s tackle before tripping over the Dutch defender’s trailing leg. It’s another controversial call at the 2014 World Cup.

20th minute, 0-0: The game hasn’t yet matched its billing after 20 minutes.

It has been a cagey and tactical contest so far, and the teams are struggling to create clear-cut chances on their own. The most dangerous moments have come from mistakes, but neither team has converted those unexpected opportunities into goals.

15th minute, 0-0: We’re keeping an eye on Costa’s fitness, as there was some doubt as to whether he would be healthy enough to compete in the 2014 World Cup.

Costa battled a recurring hamstring injury towards the end of his club season with Atletico Madrid. The Spain striker limped off early in the first half of both the La Liga (Spain first division) title decider on May 17 and the UEFA Champions League final on May 24.

Eighth minute, 0-0: Robben breaks in on goal, much like he did in 2010, but fails to score.

Casillas was perfectly positioned and made the save.

Sixth minute, 0-0: The Dutch have started well. Their setup is making it difficult for Spain to attack the wide areas, and center midfielders de Jong and de Guzman are working hard to close down space in the middle.

First minute, 0-0: The game is underway.

Pregame: Costa will lead Spain’s attack. The Brazil-born striker controversially elected to play for his adopted country last year. It will be interesting to see what kind of reception Brazilians give him.

Costa will play high up the field, while Silva and Iniesta create in the space underneath him. Alonso, Busquets and Xavi control the tempo in the middle, while fullbacks Alba and Azpilicueta join the attack when possible.

Van Gaal is making a revolutionary break from the past in adopting a 5-3-2 formation. Dutch teams have played played a 4-3-3 for decades, but the Dutch boss chose to sacrifice an attacking player for a defender because he couldn’t find a suitable left back for that setup. We’ll see how it works in the coming minutes.

2:30 p.m.: Here are the lineups:

Spain

Iker Casillas (1), goalkeeper
Jordi Alba (18), left back
Sergio Ramos (15), center back
Gerard Pique (3), center back
Cezer Azpilicueta (22), right back
Sergio Busquets (16), midfielder
Xavi (8), midfielder
Xabi Alonso (14), midfielder
Andres Iniesta (6), forward
David Silva (21), forward
Diego Costa (19), striker

Substitutes

David De Gea (12), goalkeeper
Pepe Reina (23), goalkeeper
Raul Albiol (2), defender
Javi Martinez (4), defender
Juanfran (5), defender
Cesc Fabregas (10), midfielder
Juan Mata (13), midfielder
Santi Cazorla (20), midfielder
Koke (17), midfielder
Pedro (11), forward
David Villa (7), striker
Fernando Torres (9), striker

Netherlands

Jasper Cillessen (1), goalkeeper
Daley Blind (5), left back
Bruno Martins Indi (4), center back
Ron Vlaar (2), center back
Stefan de Vrij (3), center back
Daryl Janmaaat (7), right back
Nigel de Jong (6), midfielder
Jonathan de Guzman (8), midfielder
Wesley Sneijder (10), midfielder
Arjen Robben (11), forward
Robin van Persie (9), forward

Substitutes

Michel Vorm (22), goalkeeper
Tim Krul (23), goalkeeer
Joel Veltman (13), defender
Terence Kongolo (14), defender
Paul Verhaegh (12), defender
Jordy Clasie (16), midfielder
Leroy Fer (18), midfielder
Georginio Wijnaldum (20), midfielder
Dirk Kuyt (15), forward
Jermain Lens (17), forward
Memphis Depay (21), forward
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (19), striker

2 p.m. ET: What is arguably the most highly anticipated group-stage game of the 2014 FIFA World Cup takes place on Friday.

Spain meets the Netherlands in a rematch of the 2010 World Cup final at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Bahia.

Spain must pick up where it left off in order to defend its world championship. It dominates possession and defends as well as any team in international soccer history. Although it is older than it was four years ago, Spain still believes it is one of the leading contenders to win this tournament.

Head coach Vicente del Bosque relies on a group of players which have been wildly successful in club and international soccer in recent years.

This is a different Netherlands team than the one that reached the final in 2010. Captain Robin van Persie leads a young Dutch squad that head coach Louis van Gaal has assembled and nurtured over the last two years. The Netherlands’ defense will face its most difficult examination in its opening game and it has zero margin for error.

The game kicks off at 3 p.m. Join us right here for all the action from the Arena Fonte Nova.

2014 World Cup Group B preview >>

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