Spain had a tough time explaining the most lopsided defeat every by a defending champion in the opening match of the World Cup: a 5-1 loss to start Group B action against the Netherlands on Friday.
“It's inexplicable, I don't have words," said Spain manager Vicente del Bosque. "We've never had the label of a defensive team, but we've always managed well. Today, we were weak [defensively]. And you have to give [Robin] Van Persie and [Arjen] Robben credit."
After taking the lead on a disputed penalty kick, Spain proceeded to concede five unanswered goals, including four after the break in a porous defensive display. But Spain midfielder Andrés Iniesta believes the 1-1 equalizer allowed just before the break may have played a role in the second-half capitulation.
"At times, a setback like what happened in the first half shouldn't weigh on us that much, but that 1-1 going into the break maybe affected the team," Iniesta said after the match. "Then at the end, it's all the details that tipped the balance and they took advantage."
Del Bosque made sure to deflect criticism from any one player, with Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas coming under the spotlight for his role in the Dutch goals, especially the fourth which he gifted with a poor touch. The Spain boss was asked in the press conference whether he contemplated benching his No. 1 goalkeeper for the second game.
"It's not the time to point the finger at anyone. We're all to blame. We have to look toward the future and go to our next match and secure a win against Chile," said del Bosque, who also defended his team's physical preparation.
"I don't think it's a question of physical fitness. With the second goal the Netherlands became more optimistic we became more pessimistic. It had an impact on the mood of the team. But I don't think it had anything to do with the physical fitness of my side."
Spain, who hadn't allowed five goals in a match since 1963 (a 6-2 loss vs. Scotland), were chasing the result after that second goal and it opened spaces that the Dutch capitalized with the likes of Robben and van Persie running them ragged.
"When you have the result in your favor, it's always a lot easier to play," Iniesta said. "It was complicated when they were ahead. We didn't have the ability to react. It's a setback no one expected, but in a World Cup, you can expect these things. We lost our first game and we have to think about winning the next two games if we don't want to finish early.
"It's a difficult moment after this game," he continued. "But we have two games to win and we're not going to throw everything away now. If we win those two we have a chance to stay alive."