Oranje enjoying the Chile victory…

After Spanish tapas, Australian prawns on the barbie and some hot chilli it’s now time to focus on nachos and guacamole.

Who knows what will be in store for us after that? Bratwurst? Belgium chips with beer? Argentinian steak? Bring it on! The Clockwork Orange is hungry and wants more!

We can have long debates about which opponent would be better for us, from Brazil to Croatia to Mexico but by now, you know my theory: you want to be the best in the world, then it doesn’t matter. Same with weather and humidity. Sure, Mexicans are more used to it and one has to adjust to the circumstances. But leave it to Louis. He won’t make the same mistakes as Advocaat did in 1994.

But it will be a physical challenge. Mexico plays in 6th gear all the time and it will be pretty hot. Gaston Taument was part of the 1994 squad in Florida and remembers it well. “It was extremely hot. I will never forget that. It was way too hot to play the football we wanted to play. It’s as if your lungs are empty and you lack physical strength. At some stage you stop sweating. You’re simply empty. I remember that we were more focused on the water bottles than the ball.” Former Oranje 1974 central defender Wim Rijsbergen had to deal with this a lot too. He played for New York Cosmos and visited places like Florida and Oklahoma and coached in Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Chile. “It can be extreme. It’s a matter of getting used to. This is a disadvantage for Holland, as Mexico will not need to adjust.”

WijnaldumGio Wijnaldum control

So Mexico.

A big opponent. I have always been an admirer. Football is HUGE in Mexico and they’ve always had positively focused teams. This Mexican team is well balanced. They can play football Chile-style but have the muscle and strength of Argentina. They also have European experience which always helps in big games, with players like Ochoa, Marquez, Rodriguez and Moreno. The defence of Mexico is their weakness though. Experienced defenders, but slow defenders. With  compact playing Holland, players like Robben, Van Persie and maybe Depay will have opportunities penetrating to the channel.

We played Mexico six times, in total. And Holland won three times, versus Mexico two. We played them only once at a World Cup, in 1998. Under Hiddink, Holland took a 2-0 lead but lost the lead late in the second half and ended the game 2-2. This Mexico has trouble scoring (only 4 in 3 games) and they conceded one. However, Mexico was denied two pure goals vs Cameroon and should have been awarded a penalty for hand ball vs Croatia. Mexico will play without midfielder Vazquez who received his second yellow against Croatia.

cocu mexicoPhillip Cocu scoring vs Mexico in 1998

As you know, Van Gaal won’t be able to play Fer as the goal scorer against Chile has a hamstring injury which will leave him sidelined for at least two games. Martins Indi is fit again and ready for Mexico, although chances are Van Gaal will use Kuyt again versus Mexico.

Wesley Sneijder will join Kuyt in midfield to work his ass off for the two forwards. The little spielmacher was the big man in 2010 but seems to have a supporting role this time around. “I don’t care. I am happy to be of service. I want to win that cup and if I do by running a marathon for Robin and Robben, great! I am in.” It’s a bit strange to watch, Wesley Sneijder playing like a dynamic midfielder, chasing down opponents and running more than anyone else. “I hear the media and the analysts think it is strange. I don’t mind. It is clear for me. This system requires me to play this way an I want to be part of it. I have not become this fit for no reason, hahaha.” Against Spain, Wes had two assists, against Australia and Chile, he was more a workhorse. Sneijder denies that this type of game goes at the expense of his specific qualities. “I wouldn’t say that. We simply have less possession but that is ok. There is less opportunity to shine, but it is not about me. I think we would have been flying home now if we would have tried to attack like crazy. If you judge me on my goals and assists, I’m not playing too good. But the coach is happy and the team does well. This tactics works. We played really well against Chile, which is one of the best teams in my eyes. If we play a tad better in possession, we will beat anyone. Four years ago, we didn’t play amazingly well, but we almost won the cup! I am very positive about this team. Much more than ever. A month ago, no one gave us any chance. And now people consider us to be one of the favourites. And now the knock out stages have begun, I think we will get more opportunities to play.”

robben sneijderThe 2010 man with the 2014 man

Robin van Persie is keen to make everyone aware that playing well in the group stage doesn’t mean that much. “I vividly remember 2008. We impressed with wins over Italy and France. And the so-called B-team beat Romania. And then we got beaten by Russia.” When Sneijder is asked about the reason this happened (Was it the switch to the B-team? Was it Boulahrouz’s private drama? Was it Hiddink’s tactics?). “I don’t know. But I do know that the win over Italy and France lost all its glory in those 120 minutes. So now we have 9 points and 10 goals but we don’t have a thing, really. If we lose against Mexico, we are a footnote.”

Louis van Gaal allowed his players a day off again. Some players enjoyed the beach, such as Leroy Fer, while Nigel de Jong and KlaasJan Huntelaar did a city tour. Sneijder, Van Persie, Van Gaal and Robben went to this open air swimming pool and played some tennis and water volley ball. Memphis Depay had a stroll on the boulevard.

ferLeroy Fer and fiancee

veltman vrijJoel Veltman spending some private time in Rio

Wijnaldum makes time for an interview. The PSV midfielder doesn’t understand the criticism from his home country. “Most nations and media are positive about our effective way of playing. We might not be playing wonderful, dazzling football but I don’t think it’s possible to play that type of football and win the World Cup. Italy 1982, Argentina 1986, Spain 2010…. It was all business like and effective. In 1982, Brazil had the most beautiful game and in 1998 it was Holland. But winning and playing beautiful doesn’t always match. We might not be very dominant but boy, we can play some great football, even with this system. That second goal against Chile was a beauty, wasn’t it? And the first wasn’t shabby either. First Memphis rocket, then a corner, a great cross and a superb header. What is not to like?” The Feyenoord developed player has learned to put the results first. “In the youth, it’s all about ball skills and playing attractive. But it’s about winning now. We have had so many compliments over the years about our quality play, but we never won the World Cup! We think it is time we do. And this team does not have the quality and experience yet to do so with very dominant football. So we do it this way. We are a fighting machine. A bit like Atletico Madrid. They were seen as a fighting team for a while until people realised they actually play really good football too. We want to win now. But we will always try to find good solutions. Players like Robben, Van Persie, Depay…they can’t play ugly even if they wanted to.”

The AD newspaper asked to former Oranje players how they view this Oranje. Stylist Ronald de Boer and midfield breaker Mark van Bommel. Because the whole nation is keen to know where this ends, as Van Gaal designed a perfect strategy for the material he has. But we are also Dutch. Adventurers and guardians of the beautiful game. We became big with attacking football and aim for perfection. And there is no nation that debates the quality of football as much as the Dutch. Ronald de Boer is a typical disciple of beautiful football. What does he think of this new 5-3-2 system. “It hurts my eyes. I don’t like it. It doesn’t feel right. Long balls into space hoping Robben will catch it. It’s all so unsettled and uncomposed at the moment. Kuyt, De Jong but also Sneijder…they are not at ease in possession. I don’t get it. Ron Vlaar, he is not a born build up player. But defensively he is doing great, don’t get me wrong. But he doesn’t need to blindly kick every ball forward?”

kuyt drinksKuyt demonstrating the need to drink

Mark van Bommel was in the engine room in 2010 and his father in law introduced a more business-like style of football. “Still, I see changes. I do believe we were pushing up a bit more and in possession we’d play with three strikers. We tried to press forward. This team is more a counter attacking team. But don’t get me wrong. I understand why Van Gaal does it. With these young players, you need to build in some safety. And it is of no use to go to a World Cup every four years and be kicked out at the group stages. These boys are there now, they want to get far. But it is counter football alright. When we lose possession, we go back into our defence stance. If Robben is out of the game, we lose 60% of our threats. And of course, we all want to play beautiful football but if you don’t have it, you need to do something to make you at least win. Football is not the same as 40 years ago or even 20 years ago.”

Ronald de Boer agrees. “Listen, I coached an amateur team once at the Copa Amsterdam tournament. We had to play Ajax A1. A strong team. And I switched to 5-3-2 and we won. Ajax didn’t know how to break it down. If you play it well, it is very hard to beat.” So the question remains: can you win the World Cup playing this type of football? Both Van Bommel and De Boer say “YES!”. And once that has happened, no one will complain.

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  1. Thank you Jan. Perhaps signing with MU is not a bad thing at all. LVG wanted to prove to MU and he did very well. Perhaps it is a bit early but I am very happy that we have a chance to win it all. Before the WC I had many doubts, now I am just happy. We can win with beautiful soccer, but now is not the time. Just be patient!
    I like the opening of this article (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/soccer/world-cup/doyle-the-netherlands-is-the-team-to-watch-this-year/article19304822/)

    It unfolded like this: At first, Brazil was in serious love with the Netherlands; then it became wary of its new squeeze; and then it became very afraid.

  2. Since my only concern about the oranje elftal this WK is Sneijder’s attitude, I must say it’s quite good to hear his words. Let’s just hope he meant it, and that his actions follow his words. The little guy has the capability to destroy the dressing room in a quick spell, mind you. It’s up to LvG to make sure he doesn’t.

    As for the rest? It has been such a wonder so far that everything else coming our way is a plus.

    Hup Holland Hup!

    1. Paul, I am no fan of Suarez and I actually dislike him. But I don’t think Suarez should be banned from finishing this WC campaign. He is a great player with some crazy childish genes in it. Yes he is a bit crazy but so are many players in this WC. I don’t see the difference between sinking your teeth on someone’s shoulder where damage is minimal and a bad foul which breaks someone’s leg. I amy be wrong but this whole Suarez thing is overblown. And Chiellini deserves to be hurt, I am sure he tried to get to get Suarez dismissed the whole game. One of the biggest assholes in the game.

      1. Balkan, no argument here regarding Chiellini, i think we all remember his tackle on RVP during the friendly which injured him severely.

        Biting is different, its not part of the game and its barbaric. Fouls and hard tackles are part of the game, biting is not.

        Plus, its his 3rd offense.

      2. You don’t bite people in athletic competitions–duh! The guy has the brain of an 8-year-old old. FIFA was quite right to kick him out of the tournament.

    2. Still… I am not for biting. But this French dude elbowed a player in the face and others break legs or ankles or headbut each other. They get zero, 1 or 2 games for that.

      I think the biting is stupid but why is it seen as worse than a studs up tackle? I don’t get that….

      1. i believe if he got caught biting in game thats a straight red and one game ban. so i believe one if not two game ban at max. its just that fifa was publically challenged by the italians to pretend to be fair play. if no one mentioned it he would be playing colombia

  3. It is a four-month ban! I feel it is more than enough for an “innocent bite” LOL

    I agree, it looks quite strange when adult man bites his opponent. However, it is much less traumagenic than breaking someones legs with hard tackle….

    People deal differently with their anxiety. For example, German coach picks his nose, Suarez bites, you name it….

  4. Pumped for the USA-Germany game.

    This whole country is amped up, only happens once every four years, but World Cup fever is in full swing here. People are missing work, taking long lunch, etc.


  5. Great post Jan!

    Love the lego highlights as well, and although they got Robben’s hair exactly right, he just doesn’t move fast enough in plastic brick form 🙂

  6. Readers:

    I am trying to decide on the best tactical approach against Mexico. I may treat them very similar to how we handled Chile. Or I may do something different 😉

    Their strengths are their strikers and their wingbacks, and they play also 5-3-2 or 3-5-2 with the ball, with many simultaneous runs off the ball. Their goalkeeper is excellent as well.

    Thankfully, Holland have a coach who can overcome these concerns. I am the ideal man for this job, of course.

    Even ESPN is coming around:


  7. This is how Quarters is shaping to be.

    Brazil – Columbia

    France – Germany

    Netherlands – Costa Rica

    Argentina – Belgium

    Uruguay will definitely miss Suarez which gives Columbia a upper hand.

    Nigeria could be in for the money vs France especially with Musa and Enemeke who were deadly vs Argentina. they also have a good GK.

    The rest would be smooth sailing.

    1. It is only fitting that Netherlands win WC 2014. It is 40 years ago Netherlands introduce Total Football to the world. This time we will make sure we win it.

      Don’t underestimate Greece. They showed that they won Euro 2004, beating France, Portugal. Argentina is one man show. If other team can contain Messi, Argentina can be beaten.

      For us we just focus on Mexico for now. Don’t look too far ahead. I just hope we get a good, fair referee. May the best team (Netherlands) win on Sunday!

      1. It is only fitting that Netherlands win WC 2014. It is 40 years ago Netherlands introduce Total Football to the world. This time we will make sure we win it.

        Good one, Hien.

        May I add “it’s only fitting our greatest player of all time wears #14 and it is the year of 2014”

  8. Capello must be devastated with the draw vs Algeria. especially with the squad they had. That draw vs Korea has come back to haunt them.

    same goes for Ghana, themselves to be blamed for unrest in the camp.

  9. The Russian team of 2008 played much better football under Hiddink. I don’t know if Capello’s decision to exclude a lot of Russian star players was the correct one. The Russian team seemed anemic and lacking cohesion at times. I can’t really put my finger on it, but Russia should have the quality in players to produce better results than that. I’m thinking people won’t be too happy with Capello’s work with the national team.

  10. According to The Guardian Robben is an injury worry for Orange. He did not train with the team. Same for de Vrij, Blind, de Jong and Indi and also Fer. Scary news.

  11. nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education alone will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

    -chris eubank

  12. HI Jan,thank you for the nice post as always.Looking forward to the cool Robben.

    England’s Howard Webb will officiate Brazil-Chile, to be played in Belo Horizonte.Haha,this ugly bald head man….

  13. Jan the log out feature is too quick, maybe I’m a slow reader but can you extend it to at least 1 hr before auto logout?
    Other than that the new site seams to be running well, thanks for your great work!

  14. Jan, i too agree with Van Banger. i get logged out way too quick 🙁

    Also, Jan, is the world cup predictor finished? or do we get make picks up to the WC final?

  15. by the end of Chile game, all of our squad players played in the WC except Clasie , Verhage , Huntelaar and the 2 sub keepers.

    I expect Clasie and Huntelaar to get some playing time against Mexico.
    No team ever had won the WC using all the squad members “bar the two sub keepers” except Italy in 2006. It would be nice if we can do it.
    btw , no one mentioned Kongolo who played for few minutes against Chile but looked so sharp in my opinoin.

    1. Mohamed,

      Clasie,Verhage and Huntelaar will be playing in coming games.It’s all depend on the strategies.For this golden glorious moments,i bet LVG won’ t change much thing.Maybe in the final if needed,And i really love to see some changes to surprise the opponents,

      Though Kongolo has mins of play time but he looked quite mature and calm.

      Let’s have a nice one on Mexico.One step at a time with winning results

      Hup Holland Hup.

  16. Jan,

    are you going to open 1/8 prediction tableau? It is empty now. Also, could you, please, update the predictors’ score table. Thank you.

  17. Any updates on so called ‘injury problem’
    in Dutch squad that Guardian informed about? Elfvoetbal normally pick this news up very fast, but I have not seen anything like that.

  18. Great article Carlos. Thank you. The last sentence is very nicely said.
    “Dutch football is a fragile plant, and we may well lose to Mexico. But the tradition lives on, and in an extremely globalised country, that is quite something.”

  19. According to Accuweather high humidity and a good chance for torrential rain is likely for Sunday afternoon in Fortaleza. Temperature will be around 33 degrees C. It will be a tough battle.

  20. That is over 90 Fahrenheit, with humidity. At least with the likelihood of rain there should be some cloud cover. Tough conditions, indeed. I’m guessing the strategy and lineup (with obvious change of RVP) will be the same as against Chile. Stay tight, take the chances that present themselves—and they should; doubt that Marquez, Rodriguez, Salcido can stay with Robben and RVP over 90 minutes.

  21. Fans of the Best Coach in the World (and the team coached by him):

    I am pleased that we can share this wonderful Oranje adventure together and am glad that I am winning you over. Not surprised at all, but still glad.

    Anyway, it is a quiet day here in Rio, and I need more advice from you. I am certain that you are not aware of this, but over the years I have become a big fan of skin art – tattoos!

    At each stop during my illustrious career, I’ve commissioned a tattoo consisting of an inscription to honor the club at which I’ve coached.

    In 1995, while at Ajax, I had inscribed in broad letters across my back:

    “Sons of Louis”

    Then at Barca, directly underneath:

    “Mes Que Un Coach”

    When I took over the elftal:

    “Totaal van Gaal”

    Then at AZ:

    “Admiral Alkmaar”

    Finally at Bayern:

    “Mia San Meister”

    So now I have been wondering, before I add “Sir Alex Who?” this fall, what tattoo should I commission when Nederland takes home the World Cup?

    I appreciate your suggestions.

    Yours in victory,


  22. The game against Mexico will be a real battle. Every player has to be a 100% focused so we can make it to the next round. So far we haven’t achieved anything…yea sure we humiliated Spain, we easily beat dangerous Chile but if we don’t beat Mexico all that would be for nothing!!

    Mexico basically plays the same way like Chile (running all over the field, quick passes, fast counters) but they do not have the attackers that Chile has. Defensively they are a little taller than the Chileans but lets not forget that Marquez, who is 35 years old will have a very difficult time with either Robben or Van Persie.

    As far as the critics go, everyone should understand that sometimes you have to play defensive (considering our inexperienced defenders). We have showed the world that we can play beautiful attacking football but playing that way we haven’t won anything, so its time for us to try a different playing style, a style that is not gonna amuse people but its going to be productive and by productive i mean to finally lift the trophy that we so deserve.

    P.S. I’d like to see Van Hanegem, De Boer and Valdano play attractive football with this inexperienced defense that the Dutch team has. I’m sure that they would lose every game 7-3!!

    P.S. Wesley Sneijder please have a big game!!

    P.S. In Van Gaal we trust and let the haters hate.

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