Spain vs. Netherlands: 6 Things We Learned

Rik SharmaFeatured ColumnistJune 13, 2014

Spain vs. Netherlands: 6 Things We Learned

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    The Netherlands were rampant.
    The Netherlands were rampant.Natacha Pisarenko/Associated Press

    We learned a lot more than just six things during the Netherlands' rampage to victory over Spain on Friday.

    The 5-1 win was one of the best World Cup games in recent memory, with the Dutch fully and brutally exacting revenge for their 2010 final defeat in Group B.

    Here, Bleacher Report picks out the most interesting topics to emerge from the thrilling encounter.

This May Not Be Diego Costa's World Cup

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    Costa was subbed off.
    Costa was subbed off.Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

    It was surprising that Vicente del Bosque opted to start Diego Costa against the Netherlands.

    He is usually more cautious and opts for Cesc Fabregas in a false-nine role, or the tried-and-trusted (yes, really) Fernando Torres.

    But the Atletico Madrid man has been the form striker this season out of those who hold a Spanish passport, and he was chosen to lead the line.

    Costa won Spain a penalty, the validity of which split opinion.

    But there's no doubting that his excellent movement caused the Netherlands a problem.

    However, his other gameplay was lacking.

    Costa dallied once, after a through ball by Xavi, and the Netherlands defence recovered to block him off.

    He eventually made way for Torres, with the only other bit of bother he caused the Netherlands back line a half-hearted head-butt.

    When he regains more fitness, he might be deadly again. But will Spain still be in the tournament?

Fuss About Daley Blind Is Justified

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    Daley played a Blind-er.
    Daley played a Blind-er.Ian Walton/Getty Images

    This young left-sided wing-back played a key role in carving open Spain's defence.

    It was his fantastic, teasing ball which left Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique agape as Robin van Persie flung himself in to superbly loop a header into the top-right corner.

    The 24-year-old again was the provider for the Netherlands' next goal.

    His lofted ball was taken down expertly by Arjen Robben and dispatched with ease.

    The son of former Ajax defender Danny Blind did his father proud.

It All Got Too Much for Xavi and Casillas

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    Casillas was made a fool of.
    Casillas was made a fool of.David Ramos/Getty Images

    A tale of two veterans.

    Things started well for Xavi, the veteran midfield maestro.

    He began in a more advanced role than he does for Barcelona and threaded some excellent passes through toward Costa.

    One of them led to the penalty, which Xabi Alonso coolly converted.

    But Xavi began dropping deeper and deeper as the game progressed and was totally overrun in the second half.

    With Chile an even more physically demanding test than the Netherlands, we could see Koke come in for Xavi.

    Casillas, meanwhile, had an abomination of a game.

    The goalkeeper was at fault several times, never more painfully than for the fourth goal, which he ended up putting on a plate for Van Persie.

Sergio Ramos Ballon d'Or Shouts Are Premature

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    Ramos did not work well with Pique.
    Ramos did not work well with Pique.David Ramos/Getty Images

    Ramos had an amazing season for Real Madrid, but on Friday night's evidence, he isn't good enough to win the Ballon d'Or.

    His partnership with Pique was poor at the best of times against the Netherlands.

    And its worst? Devastatingly bad.

    The confusion for Van Persie's goal would have left Madridistas blaming Cules and vice versa.

    But neither of them did anything to redeem themselves.

    In fact, at times during the second half, it looked like they had melted away, leaving Casillas totally exposed. 

Arjen Robben Is Actually Amazing

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    Robben scored twice during a mercurial display.
    Robben scored twice during a mercurial display.Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    OK, so we probably didn't learn this Friday night.

    But he still has his doubters who will be hiding after one of the greatest World Cup performances ever.

    Robben ripped the defending world champions to shreds.

    His first goal was something special, taking down Blind's ball in a similar fashion to Dennis Bergkamp in 1998 against Argentina.

    Robben's touch, to come inside the defender, was even more like the ex-Arsenal star's movement, with his third ending up in the back of the net.

    His second goal was also an individual effort and just deserts for the Bayern Munich man.

Van Persie-Van Gaal Combo Could Be Great for Man United

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    Van Persie and Van Gaal could be a good combo.
    Van Persie and Van Gaal could be a good combo.Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    This could be the start of something beautiful, for Manchester United supporters at least.

    After Van Persie's magnificent diving header, the Dutchman got up and charged over to his new club boss, Louis van Gaal.

    The Dutch striker rarely looked as up for it as this under David Moyes last season.

    Van Persie struck again to put the game completely beyond Del Bosque's beleaguered Spain side.

    This probably won't be the last time the reinvigorated forward scores in this tournament.