Spains 5-1 humiliation at the hands of the Netherlands on Friday came as a shock to everyone who follows the beautiful game. It also served as a reminder that at the highest level of the game, the margin for error is incredibly small. Up 1-0 in the first half after Xabi Alonso had converted a dubious penalty kick, Spain had a glorious chance to double their lead in the 43rd minute. An exquisite reverse pass from Andres Iniesta (pictured below) sent David Silva in alone on the Dutch goal. Unfortunately, Silvas finish wasnt up to the same standard as Iniestas pass. (CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE) Just one minute later, the Netherlands equalized through a spectacular Robin van Persie diving header. With no apparent danger coming from the Netherlands, Spain set up in a very narrow defensive shape. (Spains opponents will do well to take note – exploiting this is a key to success against the reigning World Cup champs.) Yet just two passes later, the ball was in the back of the Spanish goal. The first pass came from Bruno Martins Indi to Daley Blind, who took up a wide position on the left flank. It was a free pass, with no Spanish player in a position to put pressure on Blinds first touch. (CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE) Once Blind received the ball, Spains back four was vulnerable to the diagonal ball over the top to van Persie – because Sergio Ramos, the left central defender, fell asleep and got caught ball-watching. (CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE) With no pressure on the ball, Blind was able to spot that van Persie managed to get a step in front of his marker, Ramos. (CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE) The ball from Blind was exquisite, and it was matched only by the finish from van Persie - a diving, looping header over Iker Casillas in Spains goal. (CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE) So what could Spain have done differently? In this situation, when the ball went wide to Blind, Gerard Pique was tight with Arjen Robben, the first striker – as he should be. His defensive partner, Ramos, needed to be in a deeper covering position, so that he could support Pique while also nullifying the threat of the ball in behind to van Persie. (CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE) It is only a matter of Ramos being 3-4 yards deeper, but at the World Cup, that is sometimes all that is needed to create scoring opportunities. Had Spains back-four been properly aligned (highlighted in yellow, above), Blind would never had played the ball forward for van Persie to run onto because Ramos would have been in a position to head the pass away. This goal, scored right before the half-time break, was a real blow to Spains confidence. From nearly doubling their lead a minute earlier, to conceding a wonder goal to the Dutch, the momentum turned in favour of the Netherlands going into the second half. The Spanish collapse after the break – where they conceded four unanswered goals – should have been prevented, though. The second goal was down to a combination of wonderful skill from Robben and slack marking from Pique and Ramos; the third and fourth goals down to mistakes from Casillas, with the fifth goal a classic counter-attacking move from the Dutch. It would be naïve to presume that this result – as shocking as it was – is an indication that Spains style of play is now ineffective. La Roja still possess a squad full of some of the worlds most talented players, and they will continue to employ their tiki-taka possession game to great effect. Players like Alonso, Xavi, Iniesta and Silva are still a joy to watch, and they will go into their next game with Chile knowing they must win, as a loss will effectively end their tournament. What it does prove, though, is that even the best are fallible on an off day. Aaron Ramsey Jersey
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. PETERSBURG, Florida – Its been almost seven years since the Blue Jays last won a series at Tropicana Field. PITTSBURGH -- Evgeni Malkin stood in the right circle just watching the play unfold in front of him when the puck suddenly materialized on his stick with nary a soul around. The empty net never had a chance. The Pittsburgh Penguins centre wristed his second goal of the season 7:20 into the third period to put the Penguins in front for good in a 3-2 win over Edmonton on Tuesday night. "Tough angle, great shot by Geno," Pittsburgh star Sidney Crosby said. "Hes been getting chances, its always nice to see them go in." Something that seems to be happening a lot for the Penguins, who remained unbeaten and largely unchallenged at home. Crosby assisted on all three Pittsburgh goals to vault him into the NHL scoring lead, two of the assists going to linemates Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 20 shots to improve to 5-0, including a handful of spectacular saves to fend off the Oilers, who twice rallied to tie the game. "Hes making all the right saves at the right time," Kunitz said. Ales Hemsky and Jordan Eberle scored for Edmonton. Jason Labarbera made 25 saves but was nowhere to be found on the game-winner. The Penguins were on the power play when Crosby fed defenceman Paul Martin at the point. Martin wound up for a one-timer but instead dribbled a knuckler that slowly rolled right to Malkin. Labarbera wasnt sure what was happening until Malkin was in the corner celebrating. "I didnt know what happened," Labarbera said. "I look over and the puck is on his stick and I was kind of in no mans land." The Oilers fell to 1-5-1 to quell some early optimism the franchise is heading in the right direction behind former No. 1 picks Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov. "Weve got to find ways to win games, thats the bottom line," Labarbera said. "Every one of us needs to step it up a bit more and find a way to win." The Penguins havent trailed at home yet this season and wasted little time jumping on the well-travelled Oilers, who were playing their third game in four nights. Crosby, coming off a hat triick in a victory in Tampa on Saturday, collected the puck behind the Edmonton net and flipped a pass that deflected off Kunitzs stick and went right to Dupuis, who slipped a shot between Labarberas legs to make it 1-0 just 3:08 into the first period.dddddddddddd Pittsburgh dominated the first 20 minutes but the Oilers collected themselves early in the second. A 5-on-3 power play failed to produce a goal but the momentum from the end of the penalty allowed Edmonton to tie it. Jeff Petry threw in a shot from the point and David Perron jumped on the rebound but his shot into a wide-open net went off the post and behind Fleury. Hemsky raced in and poked it across the goal line for his second goal of the season. Kunitz made it 2-1 Pittsburgh just past the games midway point, though he left the hard work up to Dupuis and Crosby. Racing in three-on-two, Dupuis wrist shot at the net was deflected by Crosby. The puck glanced off Labarberas glove and slid toward the net. Crosby raced behind the net and was about to tap it in only to have Kunitz beat his good friend to the punch by a split second. "It happened pretty quick, Im going to check my stick to see if theres a mark or a little chip on it," Crosby said with a laugh. Still, the Oilers kept coming. Fleury, arguably Pittsburghs best player during the teams quick start, ended up sprawled in front of the net during a scrum and was unable to secure the puck. It trickled out to Eberle, who lifted a backhand over a sea of players with 4:01 remaining in the second. It wasnt enough, however, for Edmonton to end a miserable opening two weeks or put a dent in Pittsburghs perfect record at Consol Energy Center. NOTES: Yakupov, the No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft, returned to the lineup after being a healthy scratch in the previous two games and played more than 17 minutes. ... Penguins F Beau Bennett was scratched due to a lower body injury and is "day to day" according to coach Dan Byslma. ... The Oilers continue their six-game road trip on Thursday against the New York Islanders. ... Pittsburgh plays in Philadelphia on Thursday. Cheap NFL Jerseys Authentic Discount NFL Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys 2018 Cheap Jerseys 2018 Discount NFL Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys From China Cheap Jerseys Free Shipping
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