Iker Casillas, Spain’s bedrock in goal since the 2002 World Cup, wound up with a day to forget vs. the Netherlands. Four years ago San Iker came up with huge save in Spain’s 1-0 win in extra time against the Netherlands, helping the country win its first World Cup — and third straight major tournament. Friday in Salvador, Brazil, it was the complete opposite, punctuated by his disastrous clearance attempt that gifted Robin van Persie a goal in the second half which made the score 4-1.
Arjen Robben added another shortly after to make it 5-1, ensuring the worst loss by a reigning World Cup champion.
Before everyone rushes to write off Spain, remember it lost to Switzerland in its 2010 World Cup opener and went on to win the tournament. Granted that was a 1-0 loss, not a four-goal humiliation that could have ended 7-1. Also, second place in Group B also faces a potential Round of 16 match with Brazil.
For whatever little its worth, I guessed Casillas might cost Spain during the tournament due to his poor season at Real Madrid where he played sparingly. We’ll see if coach Vicente Del Bosque will opt for David de Gea or Pepe Reina on June 18 vs. Chile. There wasn’t much Casillas could do on the first-rate goals by Robin van Persie or Robben, but as the second half wore on the game got more-and-more humiliating for the Spanish keeper — who did make a couple saves late to prevent it from getting even uglier.
Casillas will catch most of the flack, but the miserable days from defenders Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique shouldn’t be overlooked.
Integrating striker Diego Costa — who hasn’t logged very many games alongside the Real Madrid and Barcelona players who comprise the core of the Spanish team — looks like it might not have been as easy as most pundits assumed, too.
And how about the Dutch? Who saw that coming other than, maybe, Louis van Gaal?