Hi my friends, we are back. I think….
So you know: my tech guru friend Icko (big Holland fan too) has helped me upgrade, migrate, manifestate, generate etc etc to sort out the new site.
We have had issues, tech issues, hosting issues, potential virus issues, upgrade issues, conflicting software issues… Almost like the Dutch squad 1996 :-).
All these issues.
I wanted to thank you all for being loyal and for being part of this surge of Dutch Soccer Goodness online :-). And thanks to all who donate some of their hard earned cash. It hasn’t gone to beers, but to making sure the site is stable. We now have a following of 30,000+ people here so it is quite something…
Thanks to you all!!
I have had one of the best match experiences since….2010. This was truly a historic game. And will go down in history as such. Whatever happens next…
And also history for our blog. The success of the Dutch coupled with our “success” here brought my host server on its knees.
I have spent the last days in heaven enjoying our win. The Aussies here are all Orange fans now and there is some amazing stuff being written which I will cover for you here. But also spent the days in cyber hell trying to get my site back online. It seems that our success means two things: a site upgrade and most likely a dedicated server for the site :-(…. So lets hope it is all worth it.
Spain took Total Football from the Dutch. Today, Holland took it back!
, I will humbly point out here and now that I predicted a big win for Holland on our blog. I do believe the signals were there for all to see:
- Robben, Sneijder and Van Persie were extremely motivated as this is most likely their last World Cup and they have a point to prove
- Louis van Gaal finally made it to the World Cup, is highly ambitious and knows Spanish football well
- Robben in particular has some beef to settle with Spain
- Spain is lacking in real desire and is getting on agewise (the average age in midfield is 30 years)
- We had it coming (and so did Spain)
- Holland is superfit while most Spanish players had a gruesome seasonSo, just like in the Brazil game in 2010, the team took some time to settle and needed to be pushed to the point where the backs needed straightening and the teeth needed to be clenched, and something special was produced to get us into the game.
Van Gaal has done it before. The Ajax 1995 finals vs AC Milan saw Van Gaal doing his karate kick to fire up his team. This time around, it was captain Van Persie, who after a quiet first 30 minutes felt he needed to lead the way.
It took a wonderfully time run by him and a superb pass by Blind (great vision, great execution) to produce what will go down in history as one of the best World Cup goals ever AND one of the best headed goals ever.
We all know Van Persie is an underrated header of the ball ( last season he scored a number of tremendous header goals with Man United) but most of us here do not know Blind is actually a really good player.
That goal, just before the break, and the way RVP celebrated it with Van Gaal made all the difference. The Dutch went into the dressing room with a smile on their faces. And the world champions knew they had a game on their hands.
Who would have known? The first 25 minutes were not our best. Lots of nerves ( BMI, Janmaat, De Guzman), lots of back passing and hardly any Sneijder or Van Persie. Robben found Sneijder in space early in the game and that was a 100% goal scoring chance. I thought Wes could have done better ( the ball was blocked by Casillas chest-height which is probably the biggest gift for a goalie) but it wasn’t an easy chance.
It did look like Spain would score as at times they glided through our shaky defence but it took a non-penalty to do it. I know many of you don’t rate De Vrij too much (wrongly, I believe) and predicted he would be guilty of causing a spotkick but Costa’s leg actually went to De Vrij’s… It was NOT a foul. And like in the Brazil game, should not have been given. De Vrij blocked Costa technically well, keeping his trailing leg close but Costa was looking for it. He even checked the ref while on his way to the surface…
Holland deserves a compliment for sticking in the game and taking the game to Spain, with Blind offering up some good interplay with Robben. We had to crosses from the left that deserved better (Janmaat with a mediocre lay off and Van Persie misjudging the cross). Shapes of things to come.
Holland needed something special. And got it. A special pass by Blind. A special run by Robin van Persie. A special header. And a special celebration with Van Gaal.
Robin ended Casillas almost-recordrun of clean sheets and established his own record too. The first Dutch player to score in three consecutive World Cups. Robben would follow suit in the second half. The record topscorer for the Dutch got his 44th goal in 86 games.
In the second half, a reborn Holland showed up. While Spain seemed to have left something in the dressing room. Van Gaal had to change a couple of things… He wanted the team to 1) be less sloppy with that all important pass to the forwards, 2) be tighter to the Spanish, 3) have RVP and Robben use the space between Spanish midfield and defence better.
It took another well time pass by Blind to reach Robben and Robben simply needed to perform some magic. Everything he learned in his impressive career came together in that defining moment. First, there was the run, second there was the velvetty take, third, there was the little flick to send Pique into the woods and four the dummy to send Iker into the corner while Robben went straight through the middle.
Everything that failed in that moment in the WC2010 finals clicked today!
And Oranje wanted more. It smelled blood. And Del Bosque decided to bring more attacking power… He brough Pedro for Xabi Alonso. A change that puzzles every Spaniard still. Without Alonso in midfield it seemed like Sneijder would have even more options. Just before that change, Robben stormed through the center of the pitch to find Janmaat just on his right. The ballsy Feyenoord full back laid the ball off to RVP who went for a vintage Van Persie finish with the outside boot and rattled the cross bar. Could have easily been 3-1.
Only 2 minutes later and it actually was 3-1. A foul on Blind gives Sneijder the opportunity to deliver a curler to the far post. Van Persie and Martins Indi seem to demand all the attention of the defence and Casillas gets it wrong. All the way at the back its Stefan de Vrij who had the opportunity to redeem himself. He tries to head the ball but there is so much curve on it that he misses the header but the knees do the job. While hitting the post himself, the central defender scored the third.
In the 70st minute, David Silva scores an offside goal and the fans all realise that this game is not yet in the bag.
We’re only 1 minute further when Casillas has a howler. A back pass jumps off his foot and Van Persie is sharp as a knife and intercepts the ball and scores the 4-1.
Van Gaal takes De Vrij (yellow carded) off and brings Joel Veltman. Van Persie, also on a yellow, is also taken off for Lens while Fabregas replaces Silva. Nine minutes later, great vision by Sneijder followed by a pitch perfect pass in the stride of Robben. He enters a sprinting duel with a Spanish defender and visible squeezes everything out of his legs. He wants this so badly! And tricks everyone in his path, including a pathetically flapping Casillas: 5-1!
Spain is totally wasted by then and in the 88th minute, Wijnaldum gets a big chance but is denied by the Spanish goalie. Robben picks up the ball from the air on the edge of the box and fires a rocket on target, again stopped by Casillas.
In the dying minutes, it seems Torres gets to score a goal but he dallies too long and Veltman cleans up while at the other side, Sneijder is gifted a golden opportunity but the Galatasaray man slips and fumbles the chance.
And thus ends one of the most memorable games of a World Cup ever. 6 goals (could have been 10!!), tremendous game play and lots of pathos!
The Spanish media talk about a humiliation and a nightmare. The Dutch media talk about a swinging Oranje, led by a sensational Robin and Robben. History in the making.
And within minutes, the coolest gems of pictures went all over the internet (I posted some here).
Robin van Persie was ecstatic. The skipper immediately commented on the game after the last whistle: “This is a dream come true! Ever since the 2010 finals, we were hoping for a re-match. And to do this now, with this team, at this stage. It was amazing. And the most important thing for me: Louis van Gaal predicted this almost to the detail. He knew how Spain would play, he knew when and how we could attack them. And everything he said ended up being reality. But let’s not get besides ourselves. We have won 3 points, but we’ll need to be ready for the next game now. So we will be proud for one evening and then our focus will go to Australia.”
After his goal, he went immediately to his coach. “But also the subs. I feel that we are doing this with 23 players. I wanted to include them in the celebrations. It’s 23 players and something like 30 staff hahahahaha. I’m a teamplayer. I don’t want the sole credits. I can’t score without that pass by Blind. So I need to emphasize that we all play our part.”
Arjen Robben was happy to leave that particular memory behind. “It was good for me to score twice against Casillas, hahaha. But honestly, that 2010 moment cost us the World Cup. We are not in the finals now, not yet at least, so we cannot be too happy as yet. By the way, I understand the goal scorers will get the attention but our young lads really stepped up. I am extremely proud of them. They kept a cool head, settled in really well and did the job for us. Without them, we can’t win anything. And I know from experience how overwhelming a World Cup can be when you are young. So well done to them!”
Louis van Gaal was susprised with the big score. “I didn’t expect this score. But I knew we could beat them. I know they always want to attack and dominate. Against our golden triangle, that would cause them problems. I expected them to score and I expected us to get opportunities to score as well. Playing one on one against Robben, Sneijder and Van Persie is quite hard. The media and the supporters always want us to dominate and press forward but against Spain, that is very hard. This was the best way to play them, I knew this. This is why we worked so hard to get this system under our wings. It worked out well. I will have to see if we will play like this against Australia as well. Depends… We’ll see.”
I was quite pessimistic, the first half our or so.
Janmaat was sloppy. BMI was sloppy. Hell, even De Jong was sloppy.
I felt like Spain could have had three in the first half hour. Although they failed to create any real chances. Their final pass was not good and Costa didn’t seem to be at ease too much.
After the 1-1, during the break, LVG finetuned the positioning of the players (Sneijder sitting deeper and closer to Blind), Robben playing between the lines and the four defenders and holding mids playing a bit more tight. At the same time, Spain looked sluggish in the second half and didn’t seem to be able to bring the energy needed to execute their game.
And we proved that you don’t need 65% possession to score 5 goals.
I will now let you listen to the great Thierry Henry and Alan Shearer on the BBC: