Holland was the first European nation to qualify for the World Cup and it is now the first nation to qualify for the knock out stages. Despite all the pessimism and negativity (or concerns) we are doing something right.
We saw the great statistics on the blog, thanks for that, and it is clear that we are on an impressive run.
I personally believe and believed that Chile will be the worst opponent for us in this group and I can see Chile go far this World Cup.
Louis has some decisions to make and these decisions will be influenced by what the coach actually wants to achieve. Do we want to finish first or second? This will depend on how well Brazil will do but we won’t know this before we have to play Chile. Brazil plays Cameroon though and they are having a howler this tournament.
There is a dilemma in terms of playing style / system. The 5-3-2 worked well against a slow and sluggish Spain, that hoped to be able to simply pass their way to victory (and dive their way to victory). But against a hard working and forward pressing Australia the 5-3-2 was rubbish and after Van Gaal switched to 4-3-3 we got more control over the game. Which is exactly what we need if we want to utilise the class of Robben, Van Persie and Depay.
And since one of the key figures at the back – Martins Indi – will not be present against Chile, it might be a good idea to resort back to our normal way of playing . Taking into account of course that Chile has its own ideas about how to play and/or what position to want in the group.
And another issue of course is the yellow card situation. De Vrij and De Guzman are all on edge. Will Van Gaal rest them against Chile? And the ever impressive and formidable De Jong is suffering a bit with little injuries. Maybe he should be allowed to take a break?
This is a tough one. Van Gaal doesn’t want to take risks with key players, but he also wants to maintain flow and rhythm. The scruffy game against Australia is not a benchmark for Van Gaal. “I cannot really process the way that game went. That was not a typical game for us. We will need to improve in possession, no matter what system we pick.”
Sneijder: “You can’t play great every game. We are on a World Cup. You have to calculate lesser games.” And Van Persie: “What counts is that we have two victories and six points.”
Vlaar: “This is tournament football. We need to score one more than the opponent. If we do, I don’t care about the rest.”
All true but it is not wise to simply ignore the inconsistency of the team. Against Australia, players like Janmaat, Blind and Martins Indi were clearly the Eredivisie players again, the ones they tried to outgrow.
The FIFA chose Arjen Robben as the Man of the Match vs Australia. Normally, Van Gaal doesn’t single out players but this time he felt he needed to mention Nigel de Jong as his Man of the Match.
De Jong: “Every now and then you need to bite with the bark, you know? But Man of the Match, it’s not that important to me. The forwards, the goal scorers always get the attention. I had a good chance to score. If I did, it was 3-2 already, I might have had a chance. But it’s all good. I played well, so I can’t complain.” De Jong battled a lot with Tim Cahill. “He is a class act. I know him well from England. He has so much passion. The Aussies are not better than Spain but bring much more power to the game. In the first half, we played to clean. While they went for every lose ball. Some lads need to still grow into that. And you need to show yourself. After the break, we showed that side ourselves too. We drew the longest straw at the end. That is what counts.”
Chile plays 5-3-2. They won’t debate that. So a 4-3-3 seems to be logical. Van Gaal: “I cannot share that conclusion yet. I will have to do some work on that.”
Van Gaal’s friend and ex-colleague at Ajax Co Adriaanse feels the 5-3-2 is done with. “It worked a bit against Spain. One half. And also because Spain lacked the desire, the power and the form. It was dreadful against a lesser Australia. When you play 4-3-3 there are more and better options to build up. It simply is easier to do. I think we got what we wanted versus Spain. Now it’s time to play our own football. I say: use Chile to get the team working on it again, and whatever the result, you know… When you play Argentina or Brazil or even Italy, you don’t want to use 5-3-2.”
Piet de Visser is a former coach and currently super scout for Chelsea. The 74 year old has an outspoken opinion about football. “To me Chile is the best team of the tournament. It was a surprise that Holland beat Spain but Chile gave them a beating too. Quite clear that Spain failed to bring new players in after their wins in 2008, 2010 and 2012. And they probably should have gone with a new coach. Brazil has a mediocre team. I think Holland shouldn’t fret too much about meeting Brazil in the knock out stages. Brazil is David Luiz and Thiago Silva. Oscar and Neymar do not carry the team but have flashes of brilliance. But both players had a tough season and it shows. Most other nations disappoint. Italy is shrewd, Germany is clinical and will make it very far. Argentina is also not performing too well. Again, Holland has a chance, albeit as an outsider.”
Argentine born Jorge Sampaoli, coach of Chile, is a protege of Marcelo Bielsa. Once, when he was redcarded, he climbed into a tree to be able to still coach his team. Like Van Gaal, Sampaoli is obsessed. Marcelo Bielsa is known as El Loco. The Mad Man. The former Argentina and Chile team manager was inspired by none other than our Louis van Gaal and his 1995 Ajax team. And therefore it is safe to say coach Sampaoli as well, is a fan and follower of Van Gaal. This is the first time the two coaches meet and face off. Sampaoli: “We want to attack, we want to win and we want to put pressure on the opponent. We will never feel less than any opponent we play.”
And rightfully so. In 2013, they beat England at Wembley, 2-0 and earlier this year they outplayed Germany in Stuttgart. Chile is the number 3 South American nation behind Brazil and Argentina.
It is quite thinkable that Chile wants to attack to avoid Brazil and win the group. They’ll attack. And that will mean that there will be space for the Dutch to explore. And Chile might score a lot, they also concede a lot. They are the masters of 5-3-2 so it does seem smart to use a different system, to allow us to control midfield. A 4-3-3 which will be a 4-5-1 when not in possession seems to be the best way to go.
By the way, Chile and Holland only versed each other once before. In 1928. At the Sparta Castle in Rotterdam. Good times, I remember that game well. 2-2 it was and instead of penalties the decision was made by draw. Holland won.
We finish up with Robin van Persie leading the training here, with the young talents!