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Orange Is The New Red: Sweet Revenge For The Dutch

Paolo Uggetti |
June 13, 2014 | 4:01 p.m. PDT

Staff Writer

The "Orange Machine" of the Netherlands did not wear their signature orange shirts for the game against Spain. But after such a stellar performance against the reigning champs, I’d keep the orange kits in the dressing room for a little bit longer.

To quote another reigning champion, the Netherlands scored “Not one, not two, not three, not four…”. No, they scored five. Five shocking, counter-attacking masterpieces on a Spanish team that looked more like the Confederation Cup runner-ups than the 2010 World Cup champions version of themselves.

Robin Van Persie and Arjen Robben celebrating one of Netherland's five goals. (@MLS/Twitter)
Robin Van Persie and Arjen Robben celebrating one of Netherland's five goals. (@MLS/Twitter)

The best game of the opening round delivered in a way that no one saw coming. Competitiveness was expected, a humiliating rout was not. And if the scoreline of 5-1 would have been previously known as the final result, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who would give Netherlands the five goals and not the lone one.

A questionable penalty kick call gave Spain the early lead in the 27th minute. Here we go again, was the thought; the floodgates have been opened and here come the goals. Spain did not appear strong, however. They were slower than usual in the middle, and more disorganized in the back than ever; the penalty call seemed like a bailout. But at first, there was a sense they would somehow, even through easy goals, prevail. The story we have been so familiar with the past four years was about to write itself again. Spain would now dominate possession, and calmly go on to win their opening match.

But the Dutch wanted to write their own novel, one of pitiless revenge.

Their loss to the Spaniards in the 2010 Final was a bitter pill to swallow, as Iniesta heartlessly gutted their title hopes a few minutes away from the finish with a stunning goal. The Euro tournament in 2012 gave the Netherlands another shot to rise to the top, but they had a disappointing campaign and failed to advance past the first round. They would never admit it, but It seemed like they were still reeling from that heartbreaking loss in South Africa.

Four years later, after only one World Cup match, the ghosts of that fateful match seemed to have vanished.

Van Persie scored the all-important equalizer a minute before the half ended with a beautiful diving header that was elevated and placed so perfectly, Casillas could only watch it go in dismay. Cue the countless ‘Flying Dutchman’ references.

Van Persie's beautiful first goal. (via HuffPost)
Van Persie's beautiful first goal. (via HuffPost)

In the second half though, Van Persie was not the only Flying Dutchman out on the pitch. Arjen Robben ran the sides of the field and blew past defenders as if he had a flying broom to help him reach speeds that both Sergio Ramos and Pique had no idea existed.

The 53rd minute brought the first successful Netherlands attack of the second half. Robben brought down a great ball near the penalty area, weaving past confused Spanish defenders and finishing, like always, with his left to give them the lead.

So much talk about Spain being a team that controlled the tempo of a match went out the window, as The Oranje never looked back from there, instead pressing forward for more and more goals. The third came in the form of a defensive breakdown courtesy of Stefan de Vrij, and the result would only get more jaw-dropping from there.

Whether it was the high offensive pressure, the mediocre defense of Spain, or the sometimes detrimental goalkeeping of Casillas, Spain literally crumbled to pieces. And the Dutch more than took advantage. Van Persie and Robben were not satisfied with a single goal, and both got their double in the 72nd and 80th minutes respectively.

At that point, the now-confident Flying Dutchmen were simply toying with the defending champions who suddenly looked not only beatable, but humiliated.

The aftermath of such a shocking result leaves the Netherlands' squad in prime position to advance, while the depleted "Furia Roja" will now be forced to win both games handily to have a shot at going through. Even worse, a second place finish in Group B would probably net them Brazil in the Round of 16, a matchup every team wants to avoid for as long as possible.

Dutch revenge was a long-time coming, but in a broader spectrum, the result leaves one inevitable conclusion: with Spain struggling, this tournament seems more wide open than ever, and that bodes well for the Netherlands and the rest of the football world.

You can reach Staff Writer Paolo Uggetti here, or follow him on Twitter here.



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