Well, we’ve seen the opening games in Group A and B. We’ve seen half of the field in action. We’ve seen dark horse Russia deliver. And favorites Oranje and Germany not deliver. But we also saw Germany win the three points!!
Not delivering, but winning. Very Germany.
Playing well and not winning. Very Dutch.
Where to start? After having had a couple of hours to let this sink in, I still stick to my guns. We didn’t play bad. If we had scored a couple in the first half, we would have easily won this 5-0 ( or 5-1).
So why didn’t we score? Why was Robben’s aim so far off? Why did Van Persie look like Bambi on ice for the first time. (Not the drug, but the frozen water). Why did Afellay didn’t see his team mates in the second half? Why can’t Van der Wiel cross a ball in?
Bert van Marwijk said it like this ( and I tend to buy this): “We were too eager. We wanted it too badly. The guys seemed to block.”
This might apply to Robin van Persie.
At the same time, Arjen Robben’s decision making was not always good. I don’t agree with the Robben bashing. He played well in the first half, linking up with Robin a lot and even trying not to be selfish. But in the second half, tactics went out of the window. And everyone wanted to break the deadlock.
The only player with an eye for the game and for team mates was Wes Sneijder.
Tactically the second half was a mess. What struck me, was that Sneijder didn’t have a lot of space to play in, as Afellay seemed to block the left wing and Willems (rightfully so) came there too on the overlap.
In the second half, Sneijder got more space to roam in and was more important for us…
What does that say?
It sometimes felt the 4-2-3-1 was a 4-2-1-3 and the space was full up for the little midfield maestro to explore.
All in all, Sneijder was my MOTM. His killer pass on Van Persie in the first half deserved better, but Van Persie’s left foot abandoned him.
I personally don’t think Robin was shite. He actually played very well, again: linking up well in the first half and positioning himself wonderfully all the time. It is just the dreaded pulling of the trigger that went awry.
What will Bert do now?
Well, don’t expect too many changes. He will say: “We played well. We simply didn’t score.”
And thus, I think Bert will change nothing. Subbing Van Persie now means losing him for the tournament. I’d start the exact same way against Germany.
The changes Bert needs to make are in midfield and defense though. Not upfront.
Our forwards will need to pressure better without the ball. That is a given.
But we need to keep the field smaller in possession. Wide, yes, but the defense needs to push up! At times, the distance between the creative 5 and the holding 5 was huge! I’d prefer Raf van der Vaart over Nigel de Jong anyday. Or even Strootman. I hope Mathijsen will be fit for Germany as Vlaar tends to keep the field too long.
Also, our full backs need to push up more. Van der Wiel was atrocious. Despite Willems’ mistakes here and there, I think he is da Man for the job. I wouldn’t sub him.
So, let’s look at the others:
Poland played well. Like Holland. Taking the game to the weaker Greeks, but forgetting to score. The Greek battled their way back into it and Group A looks like a lively group.
Russia wasn’t tested by the Czechs and the main problem Big Dick has with them is to get some consistency. They won this, they might win the next one, but Russia will most likely have an off day at some state and go back home.
Portugal can play football if they decide to do so. They have this sleezy counter attacking gameplan in their dna and as long as they play like this they will be depending on the opponent. They should have played more adventurous. I’m truly impressed with Coentrao, the Real left back. Great player!
Germany looked like Holland in the World Cup. Playing 4-2-3-1. Struggling to create. Ozil was mediocre in the first half, but very good coming from the left side. Podolski was invisible and Muller was struggling too, but they had luck on their side. They didn’t deserve it, but they did get it.
I think it’s about time Holland shows them who’s boss!
Afellay said he felt Oranje was bossing the game. “We created so much. It did resemble some games we played with Barcelona. What it is…concentration, luck, sharpness… no idea…”
Skipper Van Bommel was terrible down. “I don’t know what to say. I’m knackered. The humidity got to us too. But that was not the reason for this defeat. Even that handball, we can’t blame anyone. We had 5 big chances to score and we didn’t score. Simple as that.”
Sneijder: “We all worked hard, and we did what we could to bring our forwards in to position. If they don’t score, it’s game over. We know we would give opportunities away. At this level, the opponent will always get one or two chances. The point is, that we simply need to score more. And we failed. Now we simply need to win the remaining games. Hard, but doable.”
Robben: “I’m sure the Danes pinch themselves still. How could they have won this. I don’t think our loss was a disgrace. We played too good for that. It was more a miracle. And a total disappointment for us… But, we need to regroup and focus on winning all our other matches.”