World Cup post-mortem: Brazil vs Croatia and Spain vs Netherlands

Robin van Persie's unreal headed goal against Spain will long be remembered.

Since June 12, there has been plenty of action soccer on a daily basis and this is continuing unabated.

Most teams played their first group matches and some have already demonstrated their strengths and weaknesses.

There were surprise winners and losers, big teams and names who performed as expected and those who disappointed their faithful.

Starting with the opening match between Brazil and Croatia, I must say the final result wasn’t surprising at all, as I expected Brazil to walk over Croatia.

But Brazil’s performance was below par, very ordinary to me, and was unexpected from a team widely expected to contend for the title on home soil.

Star player Neymar might have scored twice, but his performance was nowhere near what the world expected of him.

None of his goals, so far, would even make it into the list of the best goals of the tournament.

He seldom took on the Croatian defence, instead, his team-mate, Oscar, became the star of the night.

He should have been Man of the Match, not Neymar.

There is no doubt that this Brazilian team is full of individual brilliance, but maybe a Dunga-like character would do better in the middle of the park.

The absence of such a character became evident when Croatia and Real Mardrid’s Luka Modric dominated in the middle of the field, forcing Brazil to attack Croatia only on the flanks, with right winger Oscar and left back Marcello powering most of the attacks.

Paulinho played, but was no match for the hard-working Modric, whose performance I rate highly.

Brazil’s two fullbacks were also caught taking a nap on several occasions, and if that kind of performance is all they have to offer then I foresee danger.

Let’s see how Luiz Felipe Scolari’s charges will do against Mexico (June 17).

Another interesting game was between the world champions, Spain and The Netherlands.

The results of this game sent shock waves through the entire world of soccer.

Going into the match, fanatics like me had already written off The Netherlands.

Their coffin was already prepared, only awaiting the last official nail after 90 minutes of action.

But the Dutch-men had two things in mind: revenge and surprise.

The very same Spain team shattered The Netherlands’ hopes of winning the tournament in South Africa in 2010, so revenge was inevitable.

Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben tore the world champions to pieces and sent the star-studded Spain team straight into the ICU with a 5-1 victory.

It’s the worst defeat ever suffered by a defending champion.

Van Persie’s first goal, which is so far the best in the tournament, opened the gates for four more to follow and the Spanish soldiers failed to answer for themselves.

They looked like rained out chickens, while The Netherlands put three points in the bag and sent a clear message to the world: Netherlands is on fire.

I am, however, not writing off Spain in the tournament as yet, and I still take my hat off to Andres Iniesta, who proved his quality even under difficult conditions.

The Barcelona midfielder played sizzling football in the middle of the park and proved once again that his out-of-this-world passes are still intact.

Spain are now the walking wounded and I terribly feel sorry for their next opponents.

I expect this team to turn the tables and progress further in this tournament.

Who could forget that Spain lost their first match in 2010, but still went all the way to win the World Cup?

Anyway, I hope coach Louis van Gaal has learned his lesson.

I still don’t understand his decision to start with goalkeeper Iker Casillas, as the man has not seen much action in the previous season.

Van Gaal was spoiled for choice, as Spain has great goalkeepers in Liverpool FC’s Pepe Reina and Manchester United’s David De Gea.

I also hope to see him starting with reputable and free goal-scorers, like Cesc Fabregars, David Villa and Fernando Torres, as opposed to using them as substitutes in the last minutes of the game.

Enjoy RVP’s first goal against Spain all over again:


Maile Matsimela

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