Before I get into the epic destruction of the World Champs, I need to do some housekeeping: I’m changing my format. The whole idea where I talk about everything is too hard for me. Besides, you don’t need me for the dry facts. That’s what everyone else gives. I’m here for commentary. And baked goods. I will continually write up a bunch of fairly short pieces on things in the World Cup. I’ll try to do the same for MLS and other stuff afterwards. For now, ESP-NED:
First of all, I did not see that coming.
I mean, I totally did not see that coming. Like, at all. Even at half-time, I did not see that coming. Until the van Persie goal, I was expecting Spain to close them out. They seemed to be the better team for a good bit of that first half, although I did have distractions when watching that first half (nothing interesting).
Again, I didn’t see that coming.
Spain, the reigning World Cup champions and two-time reigning European Champions, who only conceded 2 goals in the entire 2010 World Cup, just conceded 5 goals to a team that was widely picked to not make the Round of 16.
See, the way that Spain plays has been about culture, and beauty, and being better than other people. Possession-based play is one of the few strategies in sports where the fundamental philosophy is “we are better than you.” They keep the ball, because they can. When they lose it, they try to get it back.
Watching a counter-attacking team destroy a superior possession-based team is fascinating. It’s like an upper-class banquet where the wealthy are hob-nobbing and wearing clothes that cost the total GDP of small African nations, and then mischievous children run in and take their food. It totally works when the security guards are Pique and Ramos.
Yeah, okay, that’s illegal in real life, but in soccer it isn’t. You can take the ball from opponents without receiving punishment from law enforcement.
I’ll put it this way: it’s like a classical music concert, and then a rock band comes in and plays rock music. Everyone is confused and a bit upset. Yet they kind of love it. I mean, the rock band analogy is perfect: in at least one each of RvP and Robben’s goals, they stick their tongue out. You’re lying if you don’t picture an electric guitar.
The Dutch defended well, and then played rock music going forward. It was too much for world-renowned comedy duo Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos, and it was also too much for Iker Casillas, their legendary goalkeeper who has hit poor form.
-Can the Dutch win the World Cup? How high is their ceiling?
-Whoever finishes second in Group B plays the winner of Group A. Who is currently leading Group A? Brazil. It previously seemed like Spain were going to win this group, but a second-place finish seems more probable.
-Let me spell it out: A SPAIN-BRAZIL GAME IN THE ROUND OF 16 IS A SIGNIFICANT POSSIBILITY!
-Will Diego Costa be back from his suspension by then? That was one of the weakest head-butts ever, but it was a head-butt. Martins Indi did himself no favors by going down like a sniper hit him. See, the proper strategy is to yell at the ref “he hit me!” in an annoying voice. I’m only half-joking.
-Bruno Martins Indi: 1) cool name 2) he was the guy who got into a fight with Arjen Robben in training. Remember then? When it seemed that the Netherlands were definitely going out early? Where they seemed like a meltdown waiting to happen? Where things seemed Netherlandsy? That feels so long ago now.
-Also, the rock band analogy works for this too. These guys are rock stars. They’re going to quarrel a bit.
-A very important note: Spain are terrible defensively. It’s always been their dirty secret, and a reason to why they play a possession game; they won’t need to defend very much if the opponents never get the ball. But against good, disciplined teams that can attack with fury, they don’t need to get the ball very much to score on Pique and Ramos.
-Should Iker Casillas be benched?
-I’ll probably write a full report of this if/when Spain go out, but it’s an interesting question: is Tiki-Taka dead?
That’s it. Answer any questions, or pose your own, with the comments sections. Stay tuned for a Balotelli article later, followed by more World Cup coverage.