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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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 :-)?