Tag: Lens

Preview Holland – Mexico: Nachos time!

Couldn’t resist. Plus, it’s my superstition that I have to do this.

So, a short one!

The biggest topic in the run up to this match is the weather. And it might well be a key topic, as the humidity in the North of Brazil is pretty hectic.

As Andrea Pirlo said, there are two World Cups being played in Brazil, one in the North and one in the South. Sadly, we’ll have to deal with it, versus Mexico.

The good thing is that although Mexicans are used to this weather, that most Mexican players play in Europe and will have to get used to the humidity as well.

Van Gaal hopes that the ref will use his privilege to pause for drink breaks as the game will most likely be influenced by these circumstances.

I believe the quality of the bench will determine the end result. And with players like Depay, Lens and Clasie, we should be in pretty good shape :-). Between you and me, I rather not see Huntelaar, as it would mean that we are behind and need to bring our pinchhitter.

Mexico, to me, is a scary opponent, as they sort of combine all what Spain, Chile and Australia have but then combined. They lack the big names Spain has, for sure, but they can play like Chile (and Spain) and have the physical presence of Australia.

I think though, that position by position we are better. Our four big guns (RVP, Robben, Wes and Nigel) are better than any of their players and the rest of our team is not necessarily weaker. The difference lies in the coach, for me.

They have quite a good coach, we have a brilliant coach ( a twat of a man, but a superb coach!).

And that will make the difference, to me!

That, plus the quality we can bring from the bench. I expect another key role in this game for Depay, but I am also disappointed with Fer’s injury. He could have been key yet again. But with Clasie and Huntelaar present as well, we do have options.


Anyway, a short post this time around. Not much to add.

I hope you all enjoy and may I say thanks here to all the punters here who were able to help me out with my request. I hope I can count on most of you out there to get this blog to the World Cup finals as well :-).

I do believe in a 3-0 win, with an early first half goal by none other than Robben and two late goals in the second half, with Sneijder getting on the score board and Wijnaldum scoring as well!

fer lvg

Funny close of this post: at the press conference, Leroy Fer was asked if he could play in the quarter finals. And dead pan, the former Feyenoord man answered: “I am not sure. I only know the coach wants me fit for the finals. He told me he wants to come onto the pitch in the second half as a sub and score the winner with my head.”

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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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100% score for Louis van Gaal: Group winners!!

Some current news here.

The group of Death. And again Holland wins all three games. Against the accepted opinion that Spain would be too hard, Chile would be too hard, Australia would be easy. Most of the analysts have it wrong. Spain appeared relatively easy, Australia was tough and Chile was put aside in a clinical masterclass of tactics.

Oh and we finally understand this 5-3-2 system of Louis!! It’s 5 goals in the first game, 3 in the second and 2 in the third. We will now go onto 1-3-3-4. So 1-0 vs Mexico. 3 goals in quarter and semi and 4 goals in the finals :-).

He might be a bit of a tool, but Louis van Gaal knows exactly what he is doing.

Chile’s danger comes from the right, so he brings in ironman Kuyt to guard the flank. He uses a fresh and super fit Wijnaldum to work on the other flank and he somehow instills confidence in presumed mediocre and inexperienced defenders.

angel backAnd she is back!! Oranje Angel

In case you are wondering… I am VERY proud and enthusiastic. Van Gaal has brought something to the Oranje that other coaches have failed to do.

He has taught them how to play clinical, how to grind out a result and for young players to fit in and take charge.

Nigel de Jong played excellent yet again, as did Dirk Kuyt. I hereby forbid anyone ever to have anymore criticism on Kuyt’s contributions. He is not Van Basten. He is not Depay. And he doesn’t need to be. He is Dirk Kuyt. Superhero. But I also want to single out Stefan de Vrij and Daley Blind.

vlaar chileRock Vlaar

Despite what some punters here said, I felt Blind played a sensational game. His energy, his forward pressure, his positional smarts… He was class! Not just defending, but also in his passing. He got a couple of fouls against him that clearly in slomo (and hindsight) were very nifty touches of the ball. He is beyond debate for me. De Vrij and Vlaar were rocks at the back and finally De Vrij showed some guts playing the ball deep whenever he could.

Janmaat played his usual game but could do better with his forward runs. He will never be a super defender, but we like to see a bit more of him in the final third.

It was the defensive part of this game I liked. It might have been boring and we might not have fired on all cylinders…but why would we? To convince who? Why would we throw away energy and risk injuries? This game was supposed to be put away, with at the least a draw. And we did much better. Chile only got half chances and we scored two.

fer chile

And two goals by subs. Well spotted Van Gaal. Gladiator Sneijder worked his ass off and allowed a young and spritely Fer to take dividends from a tired Chile. What a goal. Precision in the pass (Janmaat), precision in the placement of the ball. Superb!

Robben was a bit selfish at times, but when you have his form, really…would you be different. He had two massive opportunities and both times hit the target amidst at least three players. I say, let Robben do his thing.

The only player I felt was out of his depth, was Lens. I am not sure what was wrong with him. He probably wanted to force himself too much, trying to get Van Gaal to pick him for the coming matches as well. As some of you observed: he either went to ground or he fouled his opponent. He can do so well, but he was not on song this match.

But boy, how good is little Depay? He had some sensational little attempts at passes that didn’t connect and he had that wonderstrike from outside of the box. If it would have been a tad more to the left or right, it would have been another Goal of the Tournament.

depay chile

This lad has it all. The complete package, for sure.

So kudos to the team, it was a composed and effective match. We dealt with their threats the way Italians can and we took the opportunity when it mattered. Subbing two tired gladiators for fresh young legs and there is your 3 points, thank you very much.

Man of the Match: Louis van Gaal. For sure. He did his homework, he made the right call and he prepared his team superbly. I tip my hat.

My biggest concern: lets not get ahead of ourselves. Forget about quarter finals, semi finals and finals. Not yet relevant.

The only thing that counts is the next game! Nothing else.

robben depay

By the way, I have to add. The referee was great. He was composed and didn’t let the Chileans get under his skin! He ignored calls for a yellow for Blind (at first, but ending up giving him yellow for actually playing the ball) and he never was interested in their lame penalty shouts. Hats off!

Slightly politically incorrect but still funny….

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Preview Chile – Oranje: hot hot hot!!

Who would have thought our only issue after two winning matches would be “which leg of the draw do we want?”. Right?

I did!

Anyway, it’s time for our third match! And it is Chile Con Carne time. Can’t wait to take on one of the best playing nations on this World Cup!

We are all impressed by this opponent of course and it will interesting to see the more German/Portuguese playing Oranje take on the Dutch style playing Chile, hahaha.

No kidding, we have been faced with three opponents in our group who have all been taught how to play by….us!!

We didn’t do badly against Spain, we were a tad lucky against Australia, lets simply assume we will top the group and go into the more “easy” leg of the draw (if something like that exists…).

robben nigel

In recent tournaments, coaches like Van Basten and to a lesser extend Van Marwijk decided to rest players in those last group games and both got quite some criticism for doing so. Van Gaal however, will not only do the same and rest some lads who have some pains (and RVP won’t play as he is suspended) but he might also try out another system. The 5-3-2 has been tested, the 4-3-3 was revisited in a half vs Australia when the Socceroos were getting tired and now he might go for 4-5-1 to upset the Chilean football machine.

Van Gaal does not want to give anything away. And I mean anything. Where his colleagues in the past enjoyed being interviewed and mused about football matters, Van Gaal is tightlipped. “Everyone is listening in. Anything I say will be used and read by other coaches. So if I say anything about which next opponent I prefer, or which side of the draw I prefer, this might fuel any future opponent. I won’t do it. The only way to deal with all this is complete secrecy.”

Van Gaal trained behind closed doors yesterday and was pretty annoyed when the Dutch media picked up on some of the changes he is considering. The big news is that Dirk Kuyt might be playing as left winger, in order to contain the attacking full right back of Chile. As per ususal, LVG did his analysis of the opponent and found that their right side is the biggest threat. And with Martins Indi not available (not that he is Mr Secure Left Back anyway), Louis wants to offer Daley/Kongolo some support by using Kuyt. Smart.

LVG press

The footballing machine that is Chile has nothing to lose. They want the same as we: win the group. We can do with a draw, they need the victory. But apart from that, they cannot (and will not) play any other way. So they will try and combine their way into our box and score, while we will use the space and pick our moments to hurt them. They’re strong in attack, yes. But vulnerable at the back. I am guessing Robben and Sneijder will find ways to score. Robben because he is on fire and this will be his World Cup and Sneijder because he has not scored for a while in Orange and his pride (ego) will push him to do so.

And who knows, Lens might even join in as well.

I call 3-1 for Oranje. Why not.

Van Gaal did say at the press conference that he will chance the team at a number of places. “Some players have had knocks, others are on a yellow”. This makes us guess. Maybe De Vrij will be benched in favour of the more fleet of foot Veltman? Makes sense. Maybe De Jong can sit out this one and allow Clasie on his spot. The Feyenoord man is a bit more light on his feet than De Jong, who might be rebelrousing like the Hulk amongst the sparkly Chileans. I wouldnt be surprised if De Guzman is benched (yellow, not too great performances, knock) and Wijnaldum takes his spot.

We’ll play Lens up front. With a 5 man midfield if Chile has possession (Kuyt, Sneijder, Clasie, Wijnaldum, Robben) with a four man defence behind us (the usual suspects, but with Joel instead of Stefan). In possession, Kuyt will work the left zone, while Sneijder will sit behind Lens and Robben, with Clasie and Wijnaldum guarding the space in midfield. Should work?

1996 oranje

Remarkable news: Oranje will not play with any “Van” in the team, against Chile! The last time that happened was against China (!) in 1996 (!). Since then, there was always Bommel, Bronckhorst, Vaart, Nistelrooy or Meyde. We do have a “Van” on the bench of course, with Louis also of the Van Tribe.

Last time this happened at a World Cup was in 1994, when we played Belgium. The only “Van” was a Belgium player, Frankie van der Elst.

Chile coach Sampaoli is a Van Gaal adept and he is taking his role really seriously, by also complaining about the pitch. The pitch in Sao Paolo does look tired and in particular the box areas need some TLC.

Van Gaal wants to be whining about something too and he criticises the FIFA for not planning Brazil’s Group A game before the Holland – Chile game. “This is not Fair Play! Now Brazil can determine which opponent they want. But they are in Group A and should play before Group B.”

bruno titanic

Bruno Martins Indi is back with the group. The iconic defender – a hit in social media land with his big scary eyes 🙂 – took a hit against Australia and had a slight concussion. “I first thought my World Cup was over. But luckily it wasn’t that dreadful. I am a positive man. I will take it step by step. I did some running yesterday and that went well. We’ll see how we go.” He will not be available against Chile.

Arturo Vidal, the big man of Chile and Juve playmaker, might also not be ready for the game. This could obviously be a mental game by the Chileans, but Vidal has been struggling with fitness. So who knows.

Lastly, it is easy to name RVP and Robben as the stars of this Dutch team but most people will agree that the man who is clearly the most remarkable in the Oranje camp is the coach himself. He wanted this platform to shine, for decades and now he is here. And is relishing every minute.]

The player interaction

Just before Veltman went onto the pitch to replace De Vrij against Spain, Van Gaal made a joke to Veltman. He had a big smile on his face. The nervous Veltman produced a shy smile. Van Gaal is no comedian but the message he gave the Ajax defender was clear: “Be yourself and enjoy this!” Typical Van Gaal. Lots of shoulder pads and smiles for the youngsters, and stern looks and deep voices for the older players. Whenever he explodes, it is in the face of Sneijder or Kuyt. Never to the young lads. But he can definitely had out compliments to the veterans. He already praised RVP and Sneijder into high heaven and after the Australia game, it was Nigel de Jong who received it. Recently, Huntelaar was the big man in training and Van Gaal made sure everyone knew about it. The team manager feeds them info, corrects, is sharp on every detail and is constantly aware of the balance between tension and relaxation. Without reason, he can stop the bus at the beach, for the boys to take a walk or he randomly allows the families into the hotel for some frolicking. The more smiles, the better. To quite RVP: “Van Gaal is in top form!”.

sneijd -VG

The Debate

Van Gaal has a Phd in football. Challenging him on the sports is ok, but be ready for an earfull. Recently someone said to him that “5-3-2 was not the Dutch School…”. He attacked like a viper. “So you think Dutch School is some numbers? I don’t. It is not a matter of playing wingers or not. It is much more. We can play Dutch football with any system.”

LVG Jesus arms

The Spotlights

Van Gaal knows how to play the audience. He is very aware where the cameras are and what to do to get some impact. I will never forget the infamous karate kick he made, along the byline when Desailly almost beheaded Kluivert in the CL finals. That kick must have hurt his back for ever, but the players saw it, the cameras picked up on it and it sent a clear message to everyone: Van Gaal is a fighter, not a lover. Before the Spain message, he went to the Spanish players and hugged Xavi, Iniesta and Pique. And the big Hi 5 with RVP after his Superman goal, with his whole kindergarten lined up behind him. The manager knows where the cameras are ( hence the comments about the camera in his vision in the Australia – Holland venue) and he knows how to play them. What was quite remarkable though, when RVP scored the fourth against Casillas, he didn’t move a muscle, as if to say “I don’t cheer for scruffy goals” hahaha.

LVG Xavi

The Media

During the press conferences, Louis enjoys mentioning his holistic principles. He had a couple of Brazilian translators scratching their heads already… His public anger explosions towards the media are under control for now, but it is clear that the South American and Asian media people enjoy his onorthodox methods in press conferences. He loves taunting the media but as prickly he can be with the Dutch, as charming he is with the non Dutch media. “So you think I am very nice,” he asked a nice Brazilian female reporter. “Well, your Dutch colleagues don’t think that way at all!”.

Funny detail, after the Spain game, a relaxed Van Gaal comes into the room where the players are being interviewed. The so-called press room. He is relaxed and talks a bit with some reporters. When he wants to copy a foul he spotted by one of the Spanish players, his imitation is too realistic as he hits NOS tv anchor Tom Egbers against his shins, hahahaha.



Van Gaal enjoys being in Brazil. He is tremendously positive about the way the Flamengo futbol club has welcomed Oranje. He is very happy with the support of the Flamengo fans and frolicks and plays around with the ball boys. At certain times he decides to step out of the hotel to sign some random autographs and allows people to take selfies with him on it. Van Gaal loves Brazil and Brazil loves Van Gaal!

Gimme your thoughts and predictions here:

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Struggling Oranje beats Socceroos…

Wow, what a night! Where to start….

I said before the game I wasn’t too confident. And I also predicted a wishful 0-3, for Oranje. Well, we did get the 3 goals. And we got a big hit in our confidence. Holland is back on the ground after being a little bit lifted after the Spain tapas.

And Van Gaal did something he normally doesn’t do and shouldn’t do anymore. The man who uses logic and statistics for his decision making, this time used his heart to make a decision. Feeling. Van Gaal and feeling do not mix.

He wanted to give the lads who beat Spain another go. The 5-3-2 against Australia’s 4-5-1. Now, I am not a big systems guy. I think systems are overrated. Systems don’t win you games, players and opportunities do.

From a systems perspective, Holland’s system didn’t mix well with Australia. The one lone striker up front worked his ass off against 3 mediocre building up defenders. And the rest of the Dutch team was marked. The Aussies used forward pressure almost Dutch style and never gave Blind, Janmaat, Sneijder and co time on the ball. This rattled the Dutch. In particular Sneijder and De Guzman were at a loss. Sneijder never had so many stray passes, while Robben does what Robben does when things don’t flow. He starts to want to win it all by himself.


From a mentality’desire/focus perspective, it felt we were sluggish, and arrogant even. Our pace was low, our passing was off ( three stray passes to Blind in the first 30 minutes, Sneijder not finding his feet) and we simply were too late for most challenges.

From an individual class perspective, only Robben showed his quality in that particular first goal situation. The rest of the team was mediocre. Poor even.

The first threat was Robben converting an Aussie mistake in the 0-1. In Robben style. The former Groningen man sort of felt his mates were still in the dressing room and he decided to go it alone. Which sort of got the Dutch back on their cloud. So much so that the Socceroos were able to score within the minute. A great one time played ball into Cahill and a Van Basten style volley: 1-1. Cracker of a goal.

Tim Cahill Goal of the tournament vs Holland

This gave the Aussies wings and they outplayed us that first half all over the pitch.

And this is where we really got hurt. Not so much systems, but mentality. Will to win. Desire. And having an Algerian referee on the pitch didn’t help either :-).

The width of the Aussies rattled Holland as well. Spain’s wide players drift inwards when they can. Leckie and Oar however, hugged the line and created a lot of defence problems for Holland, who had to play one on one whenever Australia had the ball. And when they did, they moved their 4-5-1 into a 3-3-4, impressively.

A dramatic accident involving Martins Indi forced Van Gaal to show his cards before the half time break. A tough Cahill challenge resulted in BMI hitting the deck with his head and he is off with a concussion. Van Gaal used the moment to bring the 4-3-3 back with young gun Memphis Depay on the left flank.

The 4-3-3 gave Holland more control over the match. The 3 forwards kept 4 Aussies at the back and more fighting spirit (Sneijder, De Jong, Janmaat, Blind) in midfield helped Holland back into it. But where we created more in 10 minutes than in the previous 45 minutes, it was bad luck in our box that gave the Aussies a lead. A cross against Janmaat arm and the ball went on the spot. Australia didn’t fail and led 2-1. This is where Holland finally straightened their back and inspired by the entrance of Depay, Holland did to the Socceroos what Cahill did to us: score immediately. A good throughpass by the young PSV winger (definitely on his way out of the Eredivisie) to Van Persie who was kept onside and the Man United striker had only one thing on his mind. High and hard.

RVP equal

I did have the feeling we had more in us this game, but was very conscious that this applied to Australia as well.

It took something special and a fail by the Aussies to get on top though. A Depay distance strike C Ronaldo style tricked the young Socceroo goalie and found the net. 2-3 up for Holland but this wouldn’t stop the lads in green and gold to bounce back and come looking for more.


And for me, they deserved the equaliser.

But sadly for them and fortunately for us, we were able to stay in the game and with Wijnaldum and Lens as fresh legs (Van Persie limped off after a shock landing on his ankle) we did create more opportunities but somehow it never looked like we would dance past the ruggish Aussie players.

Lets just hope that this tough game will have brought some grit to the Dutch. Because we will not get away from a team like France or Germany, should they choose to play like this against us.

It is time we all become realistic again, after this fabulous win versus Spain, and realise we can only get something if we really fight and labour like there is no tomorrow all over the pitch. And then, with some class by the Golden Triangle and some tactical wizardry by Van Gaal.


And looking back at the Australia game, one can safely say that: 1) we did not show grit and workmanship but were sluggish and looked arrogant, 2) our big guns were hot and cold this game and 3) Van Gaal got it wrong with his tactical set up.

So there is a big decision to be made by Van Gaal.

Playing Chile, will we go back to 5-3-2 (as they tend to play Spain-like) or will we simply rely on our class and traditional 4-3-3 against all future opponents from now on and use Depay as our tropical surprise?

I’ll give you one hint. Skipper Van Persie was interviewed right after the game and he gave his true feelings away, as he wasn’t as guarded. “It was good to play 4-3-3 again, to be in our own style. We clearly all feel better playing that.”

Your thoughts?


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Match Preview Oranje – Australia: worries!

But not for us ( I hope). For them. The Socceroos. Or maybe: The Suckeroos, hahahaha.

They love their expressions in Australia. No worries mate! She’ll be right mate! Well, if Robin, Robben, Daley, Wesley, Bruno and Jasper have anything to say about it, it will be “She won’t be right!”.

Australia however, is pretty confident. They are always quite confident, simply because they know how to fight. They’re battlers. They love being the underdog. And they will never give up. That is in their DNA and they most likely will not be impressed with our stars.

Oz team

After being courted into the game of football (soccer here) by none other than Guus Hiddink, the Socceroos take their sports seriously. They had mixed results at the World Cup, with 2006 seeing them screwed out of the competition by the “Italian cheating bastards”. Hiddink was succeeded by Pim Verbeek who didn’t make a lot of friends in Australia and some assistant coach from Germany took over for a while but he had all the flair and charisma of a garden hose, so they replaced him and finally had the guts to appoint an Australian coach. With an Australian name. Ange Postecoglou.

But the round chested former A-League club coach has that same quality Hiddink has. Doesn’t fear no one. And with the same starting eleven as the team that did so well against Chile (bar two forced changes), the Aussie manager is focusing on delivering a big upset to the World Cup, and the Dutch in particular. “The score we ended up with vs Chile doesn’t tell the whole story. We actually did well.”. Poste needs to replace injured Ivan Franjic who traveled back to OZ with a hamstring and Mark Milligan. James Holland – formerly of AZ and Sparta – might be his replacement. Heracles defender Davidson and Utrecht forward Tommy Oar will most likely start.

coaches NL Oz

Postecoglou: “It’s a massive challenge for us to play Holland. They have so much quality and such a pedigree, but our team will grow as a result and we play good in big games.” The former Melbourne coach had to refresh the team and had to say goodbye to stallwarts like Lucas Neill, goalie Schwarzer and Harry Kewell. Tall striker Josh Kennedy got injured right before the World Cup so the Ozzies will filed a team, partly, of youngsters. Not unlike Holland. “And there is much at stake. If Holland wins, they will be placed and we can travel home. It’s a big game!”

And their star player, Tim Cahill of Everton fame, also is the man leading the line (like we have).

It seems like the Ozzie support will outshine the Dutch legion. Australia is the third nation in terms of supporters on the ground in Brazil, after Brazil (sic) and the USA with close to 20,000 people traveling to Brazil. In comparison, there are only 5,000 Dutch fans in South America.

trainin oz

Postecoglou: “I dropped my jaw when I saw Holland butcher Spain. I knew it would be at least tight between the two nations, but I rated Spain higher. But Holland was impressive at times. Still, I think we have a chance.” The Football Director of the Aussie Federation is none other than former Dutch coach Han Berger, who is in his final weeks now of his job. “This nation loves rugby more than anything. There are three different rugby variations. And they play football like they play rugby. In a fast pace move the ball forward and use physical strength and guts to push for a goal. This is not how you play football so we have started a whole new development process. But it will take a generation for that succeed.”

nl training oz

Which is why Ange has been given the task to refresh the “Hiddink generation” and bring new young players. This World Cup will be a learning curve tournament for them. Nigel de Jong is impressed with them. “I know Tim Cahill well. We played against each other a lot and I will meet him on the pitch again for sure. He is tough as nails and will not complain when you play manly. He loves it. He has a super mentality and is a tremendous header of the ball. With him, anything can happen. I rate him very high.” Australia lost 3-1 against Chile but as the coach said, the scoreboard didn’t tell the whole story. “We were close to 2-2 all the time in the second half, but we needed to play more compact and smarter. Big lessons to learn.”

Wes Sneijder expects a tough game against the Socceroos. “I understand the whole nation is euphoric and that is fine and dandy, but Australia is a tough nut to crack. We never beat them. That should tell you something. We are not with our head in the clouds. We won against Spain, but that merely gives us three points and a good goal difference. That is all.”

sneijd wall

Robin van Persie, Oranje skipper, didn’t want to speak to the press. “Superstition,” he said. “I am sorry. But before the Spain game and didn’t do media and I got two goals. I hope to do the same tomorrow!”

There were some rumours that Van Gaal wanted to go with 4-3-3 against Australia and that Lens would come in for Vlaar. But the latest news is that Van Gaal will allow the same players to start, and he will play a 5-3-2 / 3-5-2 against the Aussies. Van Gaal didn’t want to say anything during the last press conference about. “I can play both 4-3-3 and 5-3-2 with these lads. And in both systems, we can play according to the Dutch School.” Van Gaal also commented on the new philosophy in which he allows the families in the hotel every now and then. “I want to treat these lads as grown ups. I don’t want to take them from their families for weeks and have them send skype videos to their loved ones. I believe the lads feel better if they get to see their families regularly. And when they do feel better, they play better.”

RVP Oz training

Van Gaal had an interesting comment to make about the venue of tonights game. “The dug out is literally dug out. I sit under the ground. I can hardly see anything due to this big tv camera in front of  me. And I am not a coach who enjoys to stand along side the touchline. I want to sit and talk with my assistants. I asked them to fix it. I hope they have.”

VG before OZ

Van Gaal was impressed with the response of the players after Spain. “As a coach, you sometimes need to keep the players grounded. But after the Spain game, it was the older players who did it. They immediately warned the young lads that this was merely the start. Nice, but merely three points. That makes my life easier, to have players with that mentality.” Wesley Sneijder: “You notice in the group that we’re away. The first game is always tense. And no one knows exactly what to expect. Now, Australia is forewarned. The whole world has seen how we play. It will be harder now, against Australia, I think.”

Van Gaal: “Australia has to come and get something. They’ll attack. I know their coach and he is a good coach, with balls. The Australians will never roll over and lay down so we have a battle on our hands, I’m sure.”


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The Day After the Spanish Tapas….

Normally, I post this “day after” stuff …eh…the day after the game. But, as you know by now, we had a massive debacle with the hosting and our site was down for days. APOLOGIES again but it was merely the popularity of the site and the great win over Spain of course.

We will still see some changes coming, as I am working on upgrades, scaling up and better solutions in hosting. I never expected this success during this particular tournament and underestimated what could happen. This is something companies experience as well of course. You simply don’t know what kind of scale you need until you get to that point…. So lets view it from the positive angle: Holland is increasingly winning in popularity and we greet new friends here on an hourly basis.

Anyway, just like with Spanish tapas…. After you had it, it usually comes back the next day in a different sort of format and structure. Same with this game. I have been mulling over it and watching different media and angles and trying to make sense of it. Wonderful.

BMI Robben

So I watched it at home, with friends and family. In the middle of the night. And don’t let the travel guides fool you: nights in winter in Oz can be cold. Anyway, I was not too positive (as the live blog will testify) until that RVP massive header. The second half, the roof went off in my house. I realised that at the end of the game I was disappointed that we didn’t score some of the other chanced we got, to really make an amazing statement… 1-8 would have been pretty cool.

Dutch football took a bit of a hit over the last years. In 1998 and 2000 we impressed but missing the 2002 World Cup hurt our image a bit. The Portugal clash in 2006 didn’t help us and neither did the dirty antics in the finals against Spain in 2010. Don’t get me wrong, I personally don’t think we played negatively in 2010. Despite the early fouls Van Bommel and Van Persie made and De Jong’s karate kick on Alonso, Holland wasn’t that negative and could have won it.

But the 5-1 victory over Spain and the way Van Gaal has been able to revitalise the “tired” 2012 squad has made a big impression internationally.

janmaat de  jong

Diego Maradona – not a slouch on the pitch himself – compared the Spain victory with the impact Holland had in 1974. “A revolution in modern football” the horizontally challenged one said. “Louis van Gaal has done wonderful work and prepped his young team impressively. People who believe Holland will be going home soon will be disappointed. This team will go far!”

People expected Oranje to underwhelm after Van Gaal announced to play 5-3-2. This could well be the end of Total Football, people thought. But Van Gaal knew exactly what he was doing. We might all believe that attacking until you collapse is the answer to everything, but Van Gaal said it well: Dutch football is more than just play with wingers. Putting pressure on and taking possession as quick as possible is also part of it. And Holland did just that. We had close to 20 interceptions of the Spanish build up while Spain only intercepted our attacks 8 times. They didn’t have an answer to our forward pressure on the ball.

robben sneijder

The fans loved it. Balotelli tweeted: “Wow Chocolate Holland!”. Gary Lineker said “This is football that you want to see at a World Cup!”. While icon Clarence Seedorf compared Holland with the best Brazilian teams of the past. Bora Milutinovic was coach on a World Cup 5 times! With Mexico, Costa Rica, China, the US and Nigeria. He is not surprised about the Oranje success: “You always do something spectacular. Since 1974. And all  football supporters expect something special. Louis van Gaal is a miracle worker, he has prepped this team so well. And any nation would love to have Van Persie, or Robben or Sneijder. Your education is strong and players from Holland are well versed tactically and technically. Does Maradona calls this a revolution? Well, that is maybe a tad too early to say, but with Van Persie and Robben in tremendous form, anything is possible.”

Ruud van Nistelrooy calls it a “Statement” on ESPN. “Holland’s pride was hurt at the WC2010. We may have played a disappointing finals back then but we weren’t as bad as some say. And the 2012 Euros was a major disappointment of course. This is a statement. We are back.”

robben scoring

Thierry Henry took it a bit further: “Michels and Cruyff and later Van Gaal brought total football to Spain. This World Cup, Holland is taking it back.”

Four years ago, Sneijder was the man of the moment. The leader and the goal scorer. It seems the little general is now a supporting actor, with Robben and Van Persie taking the lead. “And I am totally fine with that. If we win the World Cup this time around, I will gladly be in service of the team, hahaha.” Robben scored the fifth and almost ran out of the stadium, with Sneijder chasing him to cheer. “I even called after him. “Hey, come here you!”. But he didn’t even listen to me, hahahaha.” Sneijder was the finisher in South Africa, this time he played the perfect pass to Robben but his run and trickery in the box claimed the limelight and Sneijder’s name is now mentioned as a afterthought. “I really don’t care. As long as we win. I would do anything. And I get a lot of satisfaction from giving the assist.” Sneijder was actually the player with the second most kilometers in the Spain match, after Daryl Janmaat. “Are you surprised? I am really fit man! I played between Xavi and Xabi Alonso and whenever they had possession I had to run a lot. It was key to get it right between De Jong and De Guzman and me. I think we did ok. And I can’t be unhappy with two assists. The pass to Robben was a bit like the one I played in the WC2010 finals. Arjen and I are so comfortable with each other, I can pass to him with my eyes closed, hahaha.”

sneijder robben

As per usual, Robben, RVP and Sneijder get the most attention. Since the Spain goal, Daley Blind and Jasper Cillesen get heaps of recognition as well, with Daley Blind being touted as Man of the Match by the BBC analysts and on Arsenal and Man United’s wish list. Still, players like De Vrij and Vlaar and Martins Indo do deserve some acknowledgement as well. In the first phase of the game, the defenders relied on their backpasses to give the “problem” (the ball) to the goalie. Louis van Gaal is adamant that the defenders take risks and pass the ball deep. In the last stage before the break, De Vrij started to play deep passes. Five in a short time and he sort of seemed to inspire his colleagues, as Vlaar and Martins Indi started to skip the midfield and backpass in order to bring the ball fast to the forwards.

LVG Sneijder

In the first 15 minutes of the second half, it was clear that Spain lost control of the midfield. Normally, this would motivate Xavi and Co to step up a bit and put more pressure on the opponent. But they simply couldn’t. The Spanish team fell apart and turned into little islands, actually not unlike the Dutch did during the Euros 2012. In that period, Robben and De Vrij scored twice and sealed the deal.


To finish off, here is RVP’s goal, in cartoon format. Worth your time :-).

And how about this :-)?

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Match Preview Spain – Oranje: Tapas time!!!

This is to tell you a bit about our first opponent, Spain.

Spain is a country in the south-west of ….of screw it!! You know who they are! Where they are! What they are! What they can do!

Hell, we taught them all they know… The likes of Michels, Cruyff, Beenhakker, Metgod, Hiddink, Neeskens, Koeman, Muller, Witschge, Cocu, De Boer, Afellay!!

The whole tiki-taka is a Dutch abbreviation of tik tak football. We say in Dutch “tik tak” if we mean pass and play. Tiki Taka is probably Cruyff’s way of explaining things in Spanish.

So Real Madrid was this powerhouse in the 50s and 60s and in the 1970s Barca tried to take the reign and for a long time they did very well in Europe with their clubs. Real, Barca, Sociedad, Valencia, Deportivo…. But the Spanish national team never really set the world on fire, like Uruguay, Hungary, England, Holland, Brazil and Germany did… They won the first European Championship in 1964 and repeated that consecutively in 2008 and 2012, which is quite good. But in World Cup terms, they were chokers. In 1982, they hosted the Cup but failed to impress under coach Santamaria. They were knocked out in the second round. They did fair much better in 1986 or 1994. In the 2002 World Cup, one could have expected Spain to beat South Korea but in a controversial match, South Korea beat the Spaniards on penalties.


Some people believe Luis Aragones was the inventor of tiki taka and it originated purely because in the mid naughties, Spain had a suspect defence. And the ball in possession in midfield strategy meant the defence would not be put under much pressure… We know better. Johan Cruyff and later Louis van Gaal will have done more for Spanish football than Aragones and the use of two former JC proteges as Barca coaches ( Rijkaard and Guardiola) will have added to this.

Historically, Spain always produced good players. Every generation had at least a number of above average lads although Barca and Real tended to find their star performers across the border. From Puskas and Di Stefano to Cruyff, Neeskens and Laudrup, to C Ronaldo and Bale to Messi and Neymar, but the Spanish squad currently is overflowing with talent and quality. The youngsters keep on going (not unlike the Dutch development) and this is probably the biggest issue coach Del Bosque has. Will he go for the more experienced lads that got him the two recent titles (2010 and 2012) or will he break down the existing hierarchy – like Van Gaal was forced to do – and select some young turks to keep the team fresh.

There is a risk in both scenarios and we will see what the man comes up with.

oranje jesus

I think we will see Del Bosque play with Cesc as false striker. Iniesta and Villa from the flanks. I wouldn’t be surprised if Xavi starts on the bench, with Xabi Alonso centrally with Busquets and David Silva in midfield. A defence of Alba, Juanfran, Pique and Sergio Ramos. Although Javi Hernandez might get the nod over Pique. And I think Van Gaal will be playing 4-5-1 when Spain has possession and 4-1-4-1 in possession. I also believe we’ll see Clasie in our line up, as the little Xavi from Rotterdam has the feet to match the combination play in the tight spaces of Spain.

What can one say about this Spanish side. Oozing quality. Unbelievable quality. Mata, Corzola, Silva, Torres, Hernandez…just some names of players who might not even play. And then there is Michu and Isco who were left at home. To name a few players.

oranje salvador

Spanish media have tried to create unrest in the Dutch team with stories of Oranje players living it up in the Rio night life. And claiming that Dirk Kuyt was actually involved in that. This rumour didn’t stick. If it was Depay, Fer and Wijnaldum one could have believed it but Kuyt and Robben would be the last players you’d expect to samba the night away :-). Van Gaal laughed it off.

Still, Holland’s golden triangle of Robben, Robin and Wes is seriously feared in Spain. And with reason.

I believe Holland will beat them with a shock 3-0 scoreline. Why? Because Spain is tired. And a little bit lacking desire. Real desire. Most of the players had a big season, with most even playing the CL finals. As C Ronaldo, Reus, Wellbeck and Van der Vaart can testify: the international football calendar is long. Spain doesn’t want to be put to the test this first game. They like to start a little bit relaxed. The big guns want to keep their powder dry. But Holland might only have 3 games to shine and Holland will be super ambitious and driven in that first game. Spain might see Holland as a nasty mosquito on their way to bigger game. While Holland will view the first game vs Spain as the finals!

So we will go out there and chase them all over the park from the first second and Spain won’t know what hurt them. I predict a goal in the first 20 minutes, with Arjen Robben being involved. I foresee a second goal before half time with Van Persie involved. And when Spain fights back with Costa in the second half, it will be a cool counter attack led by Sneijder allowing Oranje to finish Spain off! Just my feeling. And as I am the blog king here, I can delete this forecast during the game if things turn sour.

The ref is Italian. If I’m not mistaken, none of the Spanish players have a history in the Serie A. In the Dutch team, both Sneijder and De Jong have played in Italy and have encountered Rizzoli and speak the language. Could be a plus.


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Oranje in Rio!! Bring it on

A new post! But I still wanna make you aware of  1) my donation request as it is that time again (hosting cost, upgrades, domain name etc) and 2) enter your results in the Fantasy Competition! BRILLIANT trophies to be won :-).

Well here we are! Louis van Gaal was probably ecstatic. Some 12 years after failing to reach the highest in world football, competing at a World Cup, he finally made it. All geared up to show the world Louis is also the greatest of the world with the national team!

The team had a pleasant flight to Brazil and enjoyed their first days in Rio getting accustomed to the time zone and the climate. The touch down was early in Rio and Louis kept his players awake to make sure they would settle in quickly. The spent some time in the hotel and then went for a long beach walk. “I noticed a change. Coming into Rio, the airport, the buzz, the language, the smells…the players were immediately affected by it. More focused. The talk became different, when we did the beach walk. Everyone realised they were actually in Brazil. To play for the World Cup,” as Louis van Gaal put it.



The players live in the Caesar Park Ipanema Hotel and it was a true spectacle when the players arrived there.

The arrival of Oranje in Brazil does mean something. The first steps of the Dutch in Brazil are broadcast live on tv. A diversity of tv programs had anchor women out at the hotel and the training grounds to pick up some footage of the Dutch. Earlier on Bosnia and Chile arrived but those events were almost ignored. There were police and media choppers and the many people needed to be fenced off from the hotel grounds. They went to the Flamengo training grounds at 3.15 pm and had a short but fun session, to allow the muscles and joints to get into gear.

clasie sneij bus

Playing some foot-volley and having fun with the Flamengo youth teams, present as ball boys. Sneijder, Wijnaldum and Van Persie stayed on the pitch to teach the lads some tricks and without a doubt vice versa. Van Gaal had to order the players in and Van Persie held up a big thumb to the lads when he made his way back. Arjen Robben didn’t train with the group. Van Gaal had one player too many for the game and offered one volunteer the option to bail out. Robben was quickest to raise his hand (I wouldn’t think Kongolo or Clasie would do this, hahahaha).

RVP training rio


Wesley Sneijder is turning back into the 2010 Wesley Sneijder we all loved (and some hated). Cocky, arrogant, condescending and oozing with brilliance. His presence in Brazil was not an automatic one, under this team manager. It took a clash with Van Gaal and hard work. But he made it. “I was to blame, but I also fixed it. I planted a big flag for myself, on this mountain far away. And said “that is where I am going!”. And my flag is now close. And you know what, you all (media)…you also thought I was over the hill. I thank you for that. It helped strengthen my resolve.”

Classic Wes. Like Asterix, whenever he gets angry, special powers sink in as if he drank the magic potion and he is ready to take on the Romans. IT took a while for Sneijder to realise what Van Gaal meant. At first, he was angry. And hurt. The coach called him unprofessional?? Him??? The man of the 2010 World Cup? CL winner? But Sneijder realised he indeed had to change his tune. “I knew I wasn’t 100% fit. I hadn’t played for Inter for a while and at Gala I forced myself too much to get back into it. It took hard work to make all the improvements in my fitness and form. I am very close to being 100%.”

sneijd voetvolley


The biggest hurdle now is to adapt to the 5-3-2 system, which works very well for Sneijder. Bar for one thing: his timing. “The coach thinks I put pressure on the defence too early and as a result I end up playing next to Robin and Arjen. That is not good. I need to stick to playing closer to midfield. He is right. I need to adjust that.”

Jon De Guzman is the only player not 100% fit at the moment. He is working hard on getting back and according to his thumb up to the media, he is doing well.

Jordy Clasie is with the group, while Van Persie is allowed to take some breaks. The groin situation is not an injury, in Van Gaal’s words, but it probably does hurt. “But, players all play with little knocks and aches. Robin will have to wear it.”

Clasie played with the team without the orange skins and presumable is now the man to fill in for De Guzman. The latter is doing his separate physiotherapy exercises.

robben rio


Thousands of people joined in when Oranje gathered for practice and the first time Van Gaal used his booming voice to reprimand Sneijder it almost felt staged. The Oranje no. 10 made a mistake in midfield and Louis stopped play, ran onto the pitch and gave Wesley an ear full who accepted it with his head down.

Back in Holland, the nation is prepping for another World Cup. Streets turn orange, companies put out their orange products and the media are creating their World Cup oriented programs, shows and items.

kuyt rio

Patrick van Aanholt won’t be seeing all that. The Chelsea full back – out on loan at Vitesse recently – is on a plane to South America. Mexico. Not Brazil. The left back thought he did really well (in the Ecuador match and at training) but was told by Van Gaal he was just not good enough. “Mr Van Gaal told me that he felt I was the best attacking option for the left back position, but also the least defensive option. I do have a tendency to not give priority to my man and he felt I wasn’t paying attention enough. Something for me to work on. It was quite a blow. To be honest, I felt I was part of the squad. But I will have to shrug and learn and go on. Next season, Feyenoord might be my team. There is interest and Feyenoord is an amazing club. But I still have one year of Chelsea on my contract so when I get back from Mexico I’ll report back to London.”

van Aanholt nee

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