Spain kicked off its bid to defend their World Cup title this Friday in a rematch of the 2010 World Cup final against the Netherlands. Spain, with five Barça players in the starting line-up – Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets, Piqué and Jordi Alba –, took the early lead through a penalty taken by Xabi Alonso, but the Netherlands rallied to claim the three points thanks to goals from Van Persie (2), Robben (2) and De Vrij.
The Netherlands ceded the initiative of the match to Spain in first half. Spain’s midfield, composed of Iniesta, Xavi, Sergio, Alonso and Silva, initially struggled to play through the Netherlands’ tight defence, but on the 37th minute Xavi supplied a sublime pass to solo striker Diego Costa. The Atlético Madrid forward was brought down in the area and the referee pointed to the spot. Xabi Alonso converted the penalty to give Spain the lead on 39 minutes. Five minutes later Van Persie scored the equaliser with a truly sublime header.
The Netherlands came out swinging in the second half. Robben netted his first on 53 minutes and gave his team the lead. Now trailing 1-2, Del Bosque sent in Pedro and Torres for Costa and Alonso on 62 minutes. The subs weren’t given much time to make an impact on the game seeing that only two minutes later the Netherlands doubled their lead. De Vrij took advantage of a loose ball in the area and scored after Casillas had mistimed his jump on a corner kick. Eight minutes later the keeper was dispossessed by Van Persie, who readily made it 1-4.
The bad news wasn’t over for Spain. Robben capped off his performance with a brilliant goal when he outpaced Sergio Ramos and fired for the fifth and final goal of the match.
Spain’s next game is scheduled for Wednesday, June 18, against Alexis Sánchez’s Chile.