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Report: Brazil World Cup 2014

Lacklustre performance for heavy weights Spain and Cameroon on Day 2 of World Cup

Spain's goalkeeper Iker Casillas reacts after a goal by the Netherlands
Spain's goalkeeper Iker Casillas reacts after a goal by the Netherlands Reuters/Marcos Brindicci

Defending champions Spain suffered a crushing 5-1 defeat against the Netherlands on Friday, whilst the "indomitable Lions" of Cameroon struggled to dominate rivals Mexico. Both teams need to win their next matches against Chile and Croatia to stay in the game. Here's what we learned from day two. 

  • High definition TVs are revolutionising the game. Forget goal-line technology, it’s this slo-mo - and no, that’s nothing to do with world cup anthem singer J-Lo – that has really caught the review’s eye. Sliding tackles have never looked so good. It was raining cats and dogs in Natal as Cameroon and Mexico clashed in their opening Group A game. When the replays showed X going in on Y, you could see the droplets of water coming off the turf as boot impacted shin. Problem is the directors still capture the players rolling around on the deck in anguish in real time. This is wrong. They should slow it down and make it upgrade the aesthetic. What we need is latter day Sam Peckinpahs overseeing the games. Football would be brilliant. When somebody goes up in the air as a result of a poor challenge, the control room people should deploy the full force of technology and slow down the player’s descent. We could see the impact on the body. And with more sensitive microphones we could hear the savagery.
  • Officials are revolting. Two days in and we’re already having issues with the people in the middle. First there was the very soft penalty awarded to Brazil on match day one. On match day two, the group looking after Cameroon v Mexico disallowed two goals that both appeared valid Perhaps the boys in black want some high def treatment. Perhaps we should yield to their yen. It’s not so very strange that they should want to look slow good as the reach for their pocket to take out a card.
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  • It’s all about momentum. Spain were 1-0 up in their Group B game against the Netherlands. Andres Iniesta conjured up a pass to David Silva that was so precise and beautiful, it would have been a dishonour not to slot the ball into the net. But the Spain midfielder contrived to miss. Moments later the Netherlands were level courtesy of Robin van Persie’s flying header. The rest, as they say, is 5-1 humiliation.
  • The future is bright. The future is orange. The daily review has been utterly marvellous since the tournament started. There’s been no tired rehashing of lines from films. But it couldn’t last. We’ve had to appropriate the advertising slogan for a mobile phone operator because it’s so appropriate. Bursting with goodness after bagging a brace in his side’s 5-1 rout of Spain, the Netherlands skipper, Robin van Persie, was questioned about the wondrousness of his diving header which destroyed the great Iker Casillas. Van Persie was asked where the goal ranked in his list of sumptuous strikes. “I do look at the occasion,” he explained. “This is one of the biggest occasions so far. It was a brilliant goal, I have to be fair. It was a bit of a gamble but just before I received the ball I saw Casillas standing well in front of his goal. So it was a sort of a header but it was a lobbed header. A great goal,” added van Boastie. Certainly was. Casillas’s concepts of time, space and angles were hotwired. He doesn’t get beaten like that. The Dutch could have had eight so diminished were the Spanish midfielders and defenders. The Spain skipper had shown an unprecedented weakness. Casillas was at fault for the third goal and the fourth. Still it’s only the first game.
  • They don’t like it up ‘em. They certainly do not. And I credit the evergreen BBC comedy series Dad's Army for the opening line. Strange that it was a Dutchman who found a way to make the Spanish midfield maestros look so ordinary. Louis Van Gaal – soon to be of the parish of Manchester United – used a long ball tactic that bypassed the Spanish midfield. It was played over the top into the space behind it for van Boastie and Arjen Robben to run onto. Worked a treat. The ploy helped Netherlands inflict their heaviest defeat on the Spanish. And everyone is on alert.

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