What an amazing end to an amazing campaign!
The Dutch National Team has knicked the 3rd spot of the 2014 World Cup, against all odds, in the process beating World Champions Spain and hosts Brazil! And brushing aside Mexico and Chile and beating minions Australia and Costa Rica. Without suffering defeat in open play.
What an achievement!
I think it is quite something…. In 1974 we finished second after a disappointing loss in the finals but also after teaching the world to play. In 1978 we got unlucky and we might even got screwed as Argentina might have paid their way to the finals back then… In 1998 we could have gone all the way but lost the consolation finals versus Croatia and in 2010 that frickin’ toe stopped us from winning.
In ’74 and ’78, expectations were low. In 1998 and 2010 we knew we had a chance. Now, in 2014, most experts felt we would be extremely lucky and successful if we made it out of the group!
A bunch of oldies (but goldies) and a bunch of youngster, led by an intense and highly strung coach.
And we were a split second decision by Robben away from a place in the finals…
That moment in the last minute of the Argentina game…. let’s not go there.
So, Holland vs Brazil. A classic poster! Played 11 times against each other. Holland winning 3, Brazil winning 3. The rest you can guess.
Last time we lost, was with quite some drama (1994, 1998). Last time we won, we cruised to the WC finals in 2010.
The Canary Yellow agains the Orange.
There are many cool stories and angles to pick when talking about this match, but in this case it was all about: will Brazil be able to win the fans’ hearts back after the abysmal loss against Germany, 1-7?
Some said “expect a totally fueled up and foamin’ at the mouth Brazil”, while other said “Brazil is simply overrated and will be needing diapers when they come up on the pitch vs Holland”.
I think the truth was in the middle. But I also believe this is one of the worst Brazilian teams ever. The 1974 one was quite shabby, and this one, sans Neymar, is not much better.
Sneijder: “I was really annoyed I couldn’t play. I first was bummed out we missed the finals, and then my hamstring gave way during the warming up.”
Fred? Jo? Hulk? Seriously?? Willian and Oscar are very decent players and as a simple defender, Thiago Silva is pretty good too. But once David Luiz thinks he is Beckenbauer and Paulinho thinks he is Socrates you know you are in trouble.
Against Germany, the defence was absent. Against Holland, they weren’t much better.
In the first minute, Maxwell and Maicon and Luiz were a bit too lacklustre when Silva had to check a run by Robben after Van Persie launched the former Groningen man into space. Robben one v one the goalie is not a good idea in the first minute so Silva did what he thought was the best solution: pull him back outside of the box and pray he’d get away with it. Well, he did. He was allowed to stay on the pitch, but the ref did point at the spot.
With only 2 mins on the clock, captain Van Persie took the opportunity to do what Vlaar failed to do in his place versus Argentina (or did he…..). The Brazilian fans – to their shock – saw their team behind once more and when Oranje pounced again in the 17th minute via a beaut by Blind, the fans surely felt it was one of those days again!! Would their team again get trashed? The horror was visible on the faces of the onlookers.
And I have to say, being biased and all…. Holland was on top of the Canaries all the time. Sure, they had their chances and their spells… As they are surely no slouches going forward but in terms of team cohesion and discipline and tactics they played 1970 style football against a team that took a page from the
Barcelona Dutch book of gameplay and the Atletico Madrid book of gameplay.
Holland had to deal with a setback when Sneijder grabbed his hamstring in the warm up and Jon De Guzman was told to prepare for the match, which saw us play with Robben an Robin upfront, De Guzman, Clasie and Wijnaldum in midfield and a five man back line with Blind and Kuyt out wide and De Vrij, Vlaar and Martins Indi as the three central defenders.
Blind hardly scores. And now he gets on in the consolation finals vs Brazil
That central block played tremendously well. De Vrij and Vlaar grew into the Men of the Match while Martins Indi, Wijnaldum, Clasie, Kuyt and Blind fought for what they were worth, with Blind regularly offering the team an outlet on the left and Clasie and Wijnaldum being crucial in midfield dominance, against players who play for European top teams ( Bayern, Spurs, Chelsea, Man City).
Sure, Brazil had some opportunities to get back into the game but for me it seemed more likely that we would get a third, as opposed to Brazil getting back into it.
Unlucky Daley Blind had to be subbed in the second half, which brought attacking full back Janmaat to the mix and Holland was the most likely to score the next goal. It seems like Brazil wanted it to end while Janmaat and Robben in particular seemed keen to get their names on the score sheet as well. Wijnaldum was also playing more adventurous, and even clashed with Robben at a certain point in the Brazilian box trying to dish out the final goal. And it would end up being the former Feyenoord man Wijnaldum who’d get his goal, finally, with Janmaat again delivering the assist (like with Gini’s buddy Leroy Fer vs Chile).
By then, Joel Veltman was given his final minutes to replace a cramped up Jordy Clasie while Van Gaal allowed Michel Vorm, the only one without minutes, his claim to fame. The Swansea man was allowed the last 5 minutes and had two goal kicks to his name when finally the ref put Brazil out of its misery.
Van Gaal’s mission has been accomplished. He reached the semi finals with Oranje and was able to do so without having suffered a defeat and using all 23 players. The Dutch have scored prolifically and with the most different goal scorers while we only conceded two goals from open play (Australia and Mexico, both crackers of goals).
I actually believe that we would have beaten Germany in the finals but hey…. I’ll take this.
The best thing for me, is the vindication of the Eredivisie. Many people, national and international (and here too) believed the Eredivisie is a crap competition.
Some Eredivisie quality (and Villan Roncrete Vlaar)
I think the facts speak for themselves: the player development and talent development in Holland is still top notch, if not better than ever. We now clearly also develop defenders! With a good coaching staff and a clear football vision, these lads can get somewhere.
Where Dutch clubs get unstuck internationally is the sheer fact that clubs in France, Portugal, Spain, Italy, England, Germany have more money to spend. So they can assemble more good players. That is why Dutch clubs suffer outside of the Eredivisie. But in terms of development, we clearly hold our own!