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Spain 1 Netherlands 5: 'We can get even better,' warns coach Louis van Gaal after destroying Spain

Van Gaal's side thrashed the reigning champions in Salvador

After stunning the watching world by routing holders Spain 5-1 in their opening Group B game in Salvador, Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal promised that there was even more to come from his rejuvenated team.

Van Gaal’s new-look side featured seven World Cup debutants and they were second-best in the first half but after the turning point of a Robin van Persie equaliser on the stroke of half-time, they destroyed reigning world and European champions Spain in the second period.

A delighted Van Gaal said: “Yes, we can get better, without a shadow of a doubt. You could see this in the last 20 minutes when we started to play the ball around with confidence. Then you could see how good these players can be. This result gives them confidence and I expect them to get better.”

The Oranje victory was a tactical masterstroke by Van Gaal who, in a change from his customary 4-3-3 formation, chose to play five at the back and hit Spain with speed on the counterattack. As if to underline the wisdom of his decision, Daley Blind, operating at left wing-back, set up the two opening Dutch goals with passes for Van Persie and Arjen Robben, who each scored twice.


Van Gaal’s team had struggled with the new system in their warm-up games but he said it paid off perfectly thanks to the quality of their forwards: “The Dutch team played in a fantastic way, compact football. We used our centre-forwards perfectly. Things can happen when you have Van Persie, and Robben and Sneijder behind them.”

His Spain counterpart, Vicente del Bosque, conceded that Spain had no answer to Holland’s attacking power as they succumbed to their heaviest World Cup finals defeat since 1950. “I don’t have words to explain it,” he said. “We have never been a very defensive team, but today we were very weak and we have to recognise the ability of Van Persie and Robben.”