World falls in on Spain after 5-1 Dutch drubbing

Defeat for the reigning champions was ‘worse than the worst possible nightmare’

Headlines such as ‘Humiliation’, ‘Fix this’ or ‘Total write-off’ are splashed across the front pages in Spain. Photograph: EPA

Headlines such as ‘Humiliation’, ‘Fix this’ or ‘Total write-off’ are splashed across the front pages in Spain. Photograph: EPA

 

The Spanish press mourned their stunning loss to the Netherlands in their World Cup opener last night with words such as “humiliation” and “nightmare” splashed across the front pages.

Spain, one of the favourites to win the World Cup and defend their 2010 title, succumbed to a rampant Netherlands team in their heaviest World Cup defeat in over 60 years with a 5-1 demolition.

“Worse than the worst possible nightmare for a team that had never conceded more than one goal in a European or World championship since 2008,” Spain’s leading newspaper El Pais said. “A complete cataclysm.”

Madrid, which normally greets victories with blasting car horns and singing along the streets, had gone silent.

“Ladies and gentleman, we’ve lost the magic touch” sports newspaper AS said.

Spain’s defeat in Salvador was also only their fourth competitive loss under coach Vicente del Bosque since he took over in 2008 and has triggered speculation of the team’s possible premature return to home.

“Spain started the defence of its title without any defense at all and ended up humiliated by Netherlands,” sports newspaper Marca said.

Some newspapers took consolation from the fact that Spain also lost their opening game at the 2010 World Cup to Switzerland but eventually went through as group winners.

In contrast, the Dutch delight screamed out from the pages of their newspapers as the country basked in the afterglow of the win.

“What a hero” wrote the Algemeen Dagblad, which ran an almost full-page picture of Arjen Robben, who scored twice.

“A dream start,” trumpeted De Telegraaf, adding that the result was revenge for the defeat by Spain in the 2010 final.

De Volkskrant also had the same lead headline, showing a flying Robin van Persie scoring his remarkable headed first goal.

“Super sensation was written in Salvador according to the master plan of coach Louis van Gaal,” said the paper.

“It was one of the most memorable matches in the team’s World Cup history, even in the history of the tournament itself. It was hard to believe . . . but true.”

The business daily NRC Handelsblad said Van Gaal had shown he had few equals for tactical acumen in engineering the win.

Algemeen Dagblad added that the unexpected victory was also a triumph for the Dutch league, whose clubs provided six of the starting lineup.

It pointed out that the five defenders - four from Dutch clubs - had 88 caps between them, far fewer than the 117 won by Spain fullback Sergio Ramos alone.

“Yet for all their inexperience, the (Dutch) defence did not put a foot wrong,” the paper said.

Willem van Hanegem, who played in the Netherlands’ 1974 World Cup final defeat by West Germany, said the Dutch proved Spain could be rolled over by putting pressure on them.

“(Gerard) Pique and Ramos had a really hard time and I found that great for our team,” he wrote in a column.

Spain play Chile in their next Group B match on Wednesday while the Dutch are in action against Australia.

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