If it is not broken, do not fix it -a common term Spanish coach Del Bosque failed to apply in his 5-1 battering at the hands of the Dutch. Spain headed into the game as favorites; having won by 1-0 in the 2010 World Cup final against this very same team. But on Friday evening, the world was stunned after Louis van Gaal’s men showed no mercy on the reigning world champion. What happened? GhanaFans.com takes a look at three reasons why Spain suffered such a defeat.
1) DIEGO COSTA: The Atlético Madrid (soon to be Chelsea) forward’s announcement that he will join Spain and not Brazil, his home nation, sounded more like a blessing but little did Del Bosque know that Costa’s presence will cause a disruption in his already ‘perfect XI’. The forward is a lone striker who is used to play up front alone or with a second striker behind him. Due to this, Del Bosque opted for a 4-2-3-1 formation which is a major change from the traditional 4-3-3 formation, one that has helped tear other teams apart. It is quite comprehensive as to why he did that. At least it gives them the option to send crosses into the box when they are not able to exploit spaces in defenses to send that through or one-two passes for a simple tap-in or placement. But this is a formation Spain is not used to. Playing Xavi as a number 10 whereas Fàbregas, David Silva, Juan Mata were available was a terrible choice and there was no understanding between the two holding midfielders Xabi Alonso and Busquets. This hugely disrupted their play and even their expected possession (tiki-taka style) could not be manifested to the maximum especially in the second half when the Dutch came out stronger, pressing highly and counter attacking; losing the ball at very wrong times. Del Bosque brought in Torres, Fàbregas and Pedro so as to switch back to the 4-3-3 formation where these players operated upfront and Busquets, Iniesta and Alonso were left in the midfield. But it was late; the harm had already been caused.
2) DEFENSE AND CASILLAS : A back four of César Azpilicueta, Gerard Piqué, Sergio Ramos and Jordi Alba is one most teams will be privileged to have. Yet these players had a disappointing night. Jordi Alba and Azipilicueta were nowhere to be found in times of need defensively, Piqué allowed Robben to get past him far too easily instead of forcing him to his weaker foot for the second goal and played Van Persie onside for the first goal, Ramos allowed Robben to beat him to a loose ball despite being about 5 yards ahead, and both Piqué and Ramos, with good aerial abilities, were missing when the free kick which led to the 4th goal was taken. Casillas was another. The Spain shot-stopper missed the same cross that led to the 4th goal and his heavy touch, a show of poor control allowed Van Persie to grab the last goal of the match. The Spain number 1 apologized after the match saying ”we apologise and I am first in lineI have not been up to par and I accept that’ It has left people wondering whether it is time for Diego Lopez to be given a chance at the national level, having already replaced Casillas at Real Madrid.
3) LACK OF HUNGER : Let us face it- Netherlands came into the game hungrier than Spain. They came in fighting and never gave up after going one goal down and even after sealing the game as well. They obviously came with a vindictive mindset and the lethargic play of the Spaniards was enough for Netherlands to come out with the victory, which they so deserved. Spain is now likely to face Brazil in the next round if they do qualify but first they have to step up their game, learn from their mistakes and never give up. After all it is Spain; they lost their first match in South Africa 2010 and still won the trophy. That should serve as a motivation. They are the reigning champions.
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