Spain 1 Netherlands 5 analysis: Why Louis van Gaal's team should not get too carried away after thrashing the champions

History shows that great starts do not always mean Dutch success

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The Independent Football

Dutch supporters were in dreamland on Friday night after thrashing world champions Spain 5-1 in their opening group match at the World Cup, but recent history suggests fans should not get too carried away.

Marco van Basten’s side began their Euro 2008 campaign in style, waltzing past then-world champions Italy 3-0 in Bern before returning to the stadium four days later to put on an equally impressive display against the other World Cup finalists from 2006 – beating France 4-1. Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie, both scorers in Salvador against Spain, also found the net against the French six years ago, but will be wary of their side peaking too soon.

Despite making it into the knockout stages in style, the Dutch quickly came unstuck in the quarter-finals – losing 3-1 to surprise package Russia, as their early form came to nothing. Louis van Gaal and his merry band of orange-clad supporters would do well to make sure they learn their lesson, else their Salvador glee may be short lived.


With matches against Australia and Chile to follow, and the likely avoidance of a last sixteen meeting with Brazil in the last sixteen, Dutch fans will be dreaming of repeating their run to the 2010 final and going one better, adding to their single major title – the 1988 European Championship. How did they start that campaign? A disappointing defeat against the former Soviet Union. Appearances can be deceptive..