1st: The Netherlands
The Dutch stamped their dominance on group B by defeating Chile 2-0, they finish the group unbeaten. Spain on the other other end – with a shuffled up team- beat Australia by 3 goals.
The Netherlands-Chile match got off to a rather dull start, the Chileans weren’t up to their best – with the group decided already, were they playing for a draw? I can’t say the same for The Dutch, who were pretty clinical in their finish. Arjen Robben was paramount again (when is he retiring? it feels like hes being around FOREVER) with the captains armband, he led by example. He pushed the Chilean defense and had a brilliant chance in the 66th minute with a masterstroke, but was denied by Bravo. Its a pity he didn’t get onto the score sheet. Fer finally scored a header- at this point the game needed one – on his World Cup debut. Depay put in the second in extra time, but Robben was vital here again, making the run and nudging it to Depay who put it in easily. This is the Netherlands 6th straight group stage win, but will they be able to make something of it this time around? The Chileans will face the winners of group A, while the Dutch will face the runners up.
The Spanish Reign is Over
The rubber duck match, Australia vs Spain saw a “new look” Spain team – mostly because del Bosque finally decided to drop Iker Casillas in favour of Pepe Reina, and he started Spain’s all time top goalscorer, David Villa. For the first time this tournament we saw a glimpse of the Spain of old. They were more organized and seemed to play with a bit more determination (maybe because they wanted to go home with a shred of dignity?).
Villa had a good game (his last for the Spanish National Team). His first chance came in the 21st minute but he couldn’t control a sublime pass from Iniesta. After a string of chances from both Villa again and Alba, Villa scored the first or the night with a cheeky back heel. A good goal but a defensive lapse from the Socceroos – given there was a huge gap in the Australian defense. I was a bit disappointed with the Australians, after their display against the Dutch, I expected more of a fight from the socceroos. Torres doubled the score after the break, looking like his old self again. Mata rounded off the scoring in the 82nd minute with a nutmeg. A good performance by Spain, but its all a moo point – they are out of the World Cup, but at least they bowed out in style.
The big question – had del Bosque not been so stubborn and changed his line up earlier, would Spain still be going home?
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