The five things you need to know about Monday’s World Cup action.
1. Arjen Robben is another great player that’s tough to love. The Dutch veteran put in another spectacular performance Monday, and though he didn’t get on the scoreboard, he did provide at least one sumptuous assist for Memphis Depay. He’s not the narcissist that Cristiano Ronaldo is, nor is he the violent racist that Luis Suarez has proven himself to be, but Robben doesn’t hurt for self-regard. He can be a shameless, almost proud cheat. And he can fake injury or contact in the box like an Oscar winner. But so far this tournament, we’ve seen the best of Robben in every game he’s played.
2. The Dutch get rough. Holland has conceded more fouls than any other team at the cup. In Monday’s game against Chile, Daley Blind seemed to have committed eleventy billion fouls on Alexis Sanchez alone before he was finally carded. The overwhelming memory of the Dutch at the 2010 World Cup was of Nigel De Jong’s Bruce Lee impression. As much as the Dutch are known for lightning-quick passing and silky skills, they are also known to be bullies. The Netherlands team has provided some the best moments of the World Cup. Hopefully, it won’t provide some of the worst.
3. Spain salvages a small bit of dignity. The Spanish may be the first champions to lose both of their first two games, but at least they can go home knowing that they scored a few goals from open play. The Aussies were half on the plane home for the game, but still, it was nice to see David Villa, playing in what is almost certainly his last World Cup, open the scoring. The best of the three Spanish goals goes to Juan Mata who nutmegs Aussie keeper Mathew Ryan.
4. Neymar carries Brazil into the homestretch. Brazil was again less than impressive, with the exception of Neymar. Outside of his native country, Neymar has never quite played up to his hype. But now that he’s back home and the eyes of the world are upon him, he has finally equaled his billing. If Brazil is to come anywhere close to meeting the lofty expectations set upon the team, then this lackluster bunch will need Neymar to spark. Today he did the job.
5. Mexico won’t lie down for the Dutch. Mexico went into the final group game knowing that a draw would get them into the Round of 16, but Los Tris came to play. In 11 second-half minutes the Mexicans scored three goals (including one from substitute Javier Hernandez) in quick succession. They will go into the game against Holland as underdogs, but could very well halt the Dutch express.
Top Reads from The Fiscal Times: