Van Gaal has puzzle to solve…

Louis van Gaal said it before the World Cup: we are going to need every single player if we want to have a chance to win it. 23 players will do it. Maybe the reserve goalies will not get a chance to play but most definitely we will see all field players get time.

With Nigel de Jong, the constable in midfield, gone the question arises, who will Van Gaal deploy.

Firstly, I suppose it is fair to assume that after 4 wins, Van Gaal will not alter his system. We will not suddenly play 4-3-3. We will most likely meet Argentina if we beat Costa Rica and a 4-3-3- against Argentina is probably not what LVG will choose.

So this means, a 5-3-2 against Costa Rica. And Van Gaal has to replace the man who is seen as the engine in midfield, the man who gave the signal when the team needed to step up and find some more fuel in the tank. The man with the Thou Shalt Not Pass voice in his studs. As Louis said: the man of the match(es).

Who can best be picked? After losing Strootman, Van Ginkel and Van der Vaart and now also Fer, it will be impossible for Van Gaal to literally replace De Jong.

The candidates (Clasie, Kuyt, Blind, De Guzman) all have different skills.

Clasie has a similar venom in his game, but lacks the pure strength of concrete Nigel. A plus with Clasie is his quality in build up. A minus is the fact that he hasn’t played at all yet and has a tendency to be homesick. Playing Clasie gives LVG the option to use Kuyt left or right if he wants.

Kuyt is an option because Kuyt can do anything his coach requires. He is tactically very intelligent and highly coachable. Like De Jong he will not step aside and he is a good enough football player to be able to build up. With Kuyt you know he gives everything. The downside is that he has never played there before and he might be more needed elsewhere.


Blind is the logical option for LVG, I believe. He has played most of the season with Ajax on that spot and became Ajax’ best player. He is the most all round player, tactically highly intelligent and with a good passing game. He tends to be a bit complacent at times and that will be punished at this level. This will most likely mean that LVG needs to use Martins Indi or Kongolo. Not sure how BMI’s fitness currently is.

De Guzman can play there too, and has played there for Oranje, but prior to the World Cup Van Gaal stated that he didn’t see De Guzman as a DM candidate but more as a Strootman replacement. However, De Guzman offers experience, is solid in the challenges and is overall a good player. Downside is that his first two games were not really a success and he might be lacking form.

Some analysts in Holland actually believe Holland is in big trouble. Jan van Halst, former Ajax midfielder: “I think it is over, red rover. I think De Jong kept the team together. He was the real captain. Robben and De Jong, assisted by Kuyt. And with De Jong gone, the team will lack the bite it really needs. Maybe not against Costa Rica, but the semis will be the end of it, I fear.”

Blind jr en sr

Van Halst goes on: “Take that goal Dos Santos scored against us…. With De Jong, that would not have happened. He would have used his whole body to block the shot and Dos Santos would be on the ground. Blind was doing what I call quasi-defending. Running alongside to act as if you defend, but is of no use. That goal could and would have been blocked.”

Willem van Hanegem uses a different argument. He praises De Jong too. “De Jong for me was the man of the group stages. He took the team by the hand when it became hard. He’s the type of player that makes players around him perform better while letting the opponent play worse. A great asset. I think Van Gaal will use Blind there, but I don’t get that. I honestly don’t think Blind is that great a midfielder. And why do you have to do so complicated. If the first choice is out, you pick the second player for that spot. Clasie in this case. Why not ? That’s why you have him. And Costa Rica… we are not talking Germany or France or Brazil. I don’t get why Van Persie is subbed and Van Gaal brings Lens instead of Huntelaar? I think it is time for Van Gaal to take the initiative. Every match, we started on the backfoot. We had less possession, we allowed them to create and mostly score first. And then we go to 4-3-3 and beat them… So, why not start with 4-3-3. If you play Depay – RVP – Robben, with Clasie and Sneijder in midfield, the opponent will keep 6 players back. They will not dare to put pressure on.”


Daley Blind is quite lacklustre about it. ” I will play where the coach needs me. I don’t have a preference. I know we have many players who can play there and I guess the coach will pick the one who will fit the team best. There has been some discussion about why he uses certain players for certain spots but with Van Gaal it is all about the team. So I will not make this about me.”

Blind finds it hard to enjoy the World Cup. “It’s weird, you look forward to this for a long time. But now we are here, it goes so quick. And we are so focused on our performance, you hardly notice you are actually in Brazil. Only at night, when I’m alone I think about it and think “Oh my God, we’re actually at the World Cup”, hahaha.” Blind went and visited a favela with some team mates and was impressed with what he saw and learned. “I enjoy learning about new cultures. It is quite enriching.” He realises that it goes really quick now for some Eredivisie players. “It’s interesting because people tend to look down on it, but I think we have now shown that the Eredivisie is a pretty good level and Dutch clubs are very good at youth development. And we have a good team dynamics going. Nigel de Jong, for instance, will remain with the group. He is very committed and will do what he can to support us.”


A player who will hopefully return is Daryl Janmaat. The popular Feyenoord right full back, with whom Oranje hasn’t lost a game and who is seen as the lucky charm of the team, lost his spot quite unforeseen to Paul Verhaegh. “I was quite shocked when I heard. Honestly, I didn’t see this coming. The coach told me and I took some time at my room to process it. It was a bit of a shock. The coach said I didn’t play that bad or anything. He did wanted to see better football in general, but he subbed me because I am more of a running full back and he wanted to use a more passing full back and felt Paul was better suited.” The Augsburg defender did not impress and the question arises whether Janmaat will regain his spot. ” I don’t know. But whatever the team requires, you know. Paul is a good player too and if it works with him than sure. It is harder for me to attack because we simply play a bit more deep but if the coach needs me I will be 100% ready. The goal is to win this and my personal agenda is not relevant.”

zico elf

Lastly this, Brazilian legend Zico picked his best eleven so far and two Dutch players made it in the Team Zico: Daley Blind and Arjen Robben. Zico: “I am highly impressed with Blind’s kicking techique. His passing helped Oranje on the horse against Spain. He made it possible. And Robben, because clearly Robben is unstoppable.”


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  1. Great piece jan,
    I wouldnt put blind in de jong’s position, the thought of putting 6 real defenders is just too much for me.
    I can live with 5 3 2 but de jong should be replaced by a midfielder. I like Clasie but everytime he puts on the jersey he doesnt perform but who knows, maybe playing costa rica there would be less pressure and could be a possible stepping stone for the next game…
    Kuyt is not suitable for that position, he is good at reciving the ball than starting a play and distributing it…

  2. I really hope we play 433 vs Costa Rica. If we play 532, I’m concerned that we will not score in the first half, and the longer we don’t score, the better chance Costa Rica has of getting into extra time / shoot-out.

    I think the answer as to de Jong’s replacement is the specific opponent that our player will need to deal with. Tejeda and Borges for Costa Rica are probably less troubling opponents, and could be addressed by many of our options. However, if we get past Costa Rica, whomever we choose will have to contend with Di Maria or DeBruyne. Therefore, I’d ultimately select the player that we intend to play against Argentina / Belgium and let them get used to the role against Costa Rica. I’m not looking past Costa Rica at all, but think that LVG needs to continue to plan ahead.

    I completely agree with van Hanegem as well. Take the game to the opponent and make THEM defend US. If our defense is weakened due to de Jong’s absence, then make our attack stronger.

    As I mentioned in a previous post, the best thing we have right now is time to try out and test various options before the next game.

    1. @JB
      I agree with the 1st half of what you said. Whoever LVG wants to put in midfield for the semi final should start against CR and get used to. I am in no way underestimating CR. But if we can’t beat CR, then we don’t deserve anything.

      LVG’s plan so far is working. He has really surprised me and I’m sure a whole lot of people on this blog with his willingness to adapt and experiment. It is very boring to watch at times but it is working.

  3. Thank you Jan. It will be super tough. So far we have seen that we have won by scoring more than the other team. If we can keep doing that then we’re golden. By losing NDJ we lost the last reliable bit of our defense. Maybe it is time for all out attack. In Robben, RVP, Hunter we have the best offensive trio of this WC. Add Depay and it gets even better. This is LVG’s puzzle to solve but even the best chess player would be confused at finding the best move in this situation.

  4. Jesus, I’m so confident that I really don’t know what else to write here… 😉

    Hup Holland Hup!

    (Oh, yes, to all the Sneider “haters” let me just say: if it wasn’t for him we wouldn’t be playing the quarter finals game; that goal he shoot like a laser was a clear turning point, where he shouted to all his teammates “c’mon guys, no extra-time, let’s crush them!”; so, KUDOS Sneider!)

  5. I think no one mentioned the obvious… I dont see how Cillessen will make that crucial stop against a top team… KRUL NEEDS TO START!

    If we’re going to play with 5-3-2

    ——– GK ————-
    DeVrij – Vlaar – BMI
    Janmaat ———— Blind
    — Kuyt —– De Guzman —
    ——– Sneijder ——–
    — Robben — RvP —

    For 4-3-3

    ———- GK ————-
    Janmaat – DeVrij – Vlaar – BMI
    — Kuyt –Sneijder—Blind —
    — Robben — RvP — DePay

    The overlapping wingers in a 4-3-3 need to be Kuyt and Blind. The full backs against top teams should not venture forward.

  6. A lot of people on this blog have offered their starting lineups. Some even on a daily basis. When Van Marwijk was leading the team he wasn’t willing to experiment with formations and players in different positions. Ultimately he decided that our defense is weak so we will play one formation. He almost succeed.

    From what I have seen so far, LVG wants to start games slowly. He wants to analyze the opponent before taking any risks. At half time he changes his instructions and adjustments. So far, it is working. The loss of NDJ is going to be huge. He was really on fire against Chile and Australia. He was fighting during the final minutes and was in top form physically.

    We need a player who is capable defensively. A strong physical presence. I haven’t been impressed by De guzman and Wijnaldum. I think Fer should be given a chance against CR if he is fit. Clasie as a 2nd half substitute

  7. Van Persie has praised De Jong to the press and believes despite the torn groin muscle he could be back for a potential World Cup Final.

    It remains to be seen how quickly he recovers, and maybe Van Persie is just trying to say the guy is a warrior, but I think it is a massive blow for this team.

    We have nobody to replace De Jong in defensive midfield. I would not want to be Van Gaal right now…but I think its time to bring back Janmaat and move Clasie into the base.

  8. What makes de Jong so good as a DM is that he is tenacious AND he is PHYSICAL. He puts his big body on opponents and pushes them off the ball, or forces them to go backwards rather than forward and get rid of the ball. That’s what great DMs do–bully without fouling (mostly!) and make it hard for players and teams to go forward. Kuyt has some of de Jong’s qualities in that he can be physical and he is tenacious. I suppose his lack of experience at the position is a problem. Whether to play more open or not is a big question: Playing tight, sitting back a bit and counterattacking with RVP and Robben has worked well. To do otherwise is risky: our back four have been very solid but they are not the quickest and most athletic group–and as we saw with Mexico there were some scary moments.

  9. Terrible news that he is out for the cup. I still think we can beat Costa Rica without him, but i dont see us beating Argentina or Belgium without him.

    Those teams love to play the counter and let the ball do the work, i.e. a lot of midfield possession. It is true that De Jong would not have allowed Dos Santos’ goal, because Blind did not try to knock him off the ball, it was just marking him. Who do we have that has the strength of De Jong? Thats what is most important, strength. Clasie is a midget, i think Fer is the answer, if he is fit. If Fer is not available, then we need to get creative, use three centerbacks, but one in a more advanced position to take up De Jong’s role.

    It can be done, the problem is the amount of time to try out the new system.

    Even with De Jong Argentina and Belgium seemed a bridge too far, without him we need a miracle…

    1. Oh for crying out loud. If frigging Switzerland had had Roben+van Persie instead of Shaqiri+Drmic, there would be some serious crying in Buenos Aires right now. And they don’t have any de Jong either, AFAIK.

      1. I agree that our attack would have scored a couple against ARG but we would have conceded as well. Swiss has a more tenacious defense than Orange and a very good keeper. I doubt Cillesen would match Benaglio’s performance. Krul would have.

  10. I think replacing de Jong is much more a matter of performance and understanding than size, but for your reference, the following are the heights, weights and ages of our defenders and midfielders:

    Fer 6’2” / 1.88 m 187 lbs / 85 kg 24
    De Vrij 6’2” / 1.88 m 172 lbs / 78 kg 22
    BMI 6’2” / 1.87 m 154 lbs / 70 kg 22
    Janmaat 6’1” / 1.85 m 181 lbs / 82 kg 24
    Kuyt 6’0” / 1.83 m 170 lbs / 77 kg 33
    Veltman 6’0” / 1.83 m 161 lbs / 73 kg 22
    Kongolo 6’0” / 1.83 m 163 lbs / 74 kg 20
    Vlaar 5’11” / 1.81 m 174 lbs / 79 kg 29
    Blind 5’11” / 1.80 m 159 lbs / 72 kg 24
    Verhaegh 5’10” / 1.78 m 159 lbs / 72 kg 30
    De Jong 5’9” / 1.74 m 159 lbs / 72 kg 29
    Wijnaldum 5’9” / 1.75 m 152 lbs / 69 kg 23
    De Guzman 5’8” / 1.73 m 143 lbs / 65 kg 26
    Clasie 5’7” / 1.69 m 152 lbs / 69 kg 23
    Sneijder 5’7” / 1.70 m 148 lbs / 67 kg 30

    1. Vlaar is 190 cm
      Janmaat is 182cm

      BMI is always overrated talking about height. BMI is 182-183cm, not more. Look at pictures, De Vrij is at least 6-7 cm higher than him everywhere, and De Vrij is 188-189cm.

      Kongolo is also taller than him, I’d say 185-186cm, same for Veltman.

      Also I doubt De Jong is only 72 kg and De Guzman 65.

  11. Sneijder should replace NDJ and Clasie should assume Sneijder’s position. It will work like clockwork. Lens is an aggressive defender too, he should start.




  12. LvG has been experimenting a lot during this WC and most of those experiments have been successful. I just would not like him to over-do it (like with Verhaegh). We have passed the equator of the tournament and to me, it is obvious that, when we switch to 4:3:3, we play much better. I agree with someone who said “if you have weak defense, strengthen attack”. In contrast to midfield, in front line we have whom to choose from. I personally think Memphis has to start all three remaining games if we go that far.
    I also feel that our defense is not that bad, and by no means it is weaker than ones of Belgium and especially Argentina. If you watched Belgium playing USA, you could see whenever Americans were pressing, Belgium was making mistakes. The same was true with Argentina defense, when Swiss were pressing, Argentine looked quite panicky.
    To conclude, instead of thinking defensively, LvG needs to start thinking offensively. We all know the old football piece of wisdom: the best defense is strong attack.
    Memphis – Huntelaar – Robben or Memphis – RVP – Robben. This attack can destroy every defense in this competition. With respect to Wesley, he will bloom with 3:3:4 formation.
    Now, about Cillessen, I do not have one strong opinion: he was a bit nervous while playing against Mexico, which might have been the result of NDJ early exit. At the same time he rescued the team at very crucial moment. One thing I am very sure: never change a goalkeeper in the middle of the tournament unless he is injured.

    1. Agreed, cillessen was not my choice, but you do not change a goalie who has won 4 games straight.

      It will never happen, so you keyboard warriors need to just drop it.

  13. Jan’s Readers:

    I appreciate your thoughts and ideas about formation and line-up for our match against Costa Rica. We will need everyone’s focus to be on this next match and we should not be seen as easy favorites to advance.

    This will be a difficult challenge for us, as was Mexico.
    This group of players is very modest. Thankfully, I supply the necessary arrogance.

    I have a tactical philosophy and a technical philosophy that will allow the players to show their qualities. You have to play the game as a team, and not as an individual. And that is why I am always looking at my vision for the team, and then at the team, and then at who fits in the profile that I make from all positions in my system. Whether it is a young player or an old player. Age is not the important factor.

    Nigel de Jong we will miss very much. His loss to injury is big set back. But we will overcome that loss as a team. This may seem like a puzzle to you, but I am non-puzzled.

    In other matters, I “Googled” myself today (which I do often) and noticed that when I type only “Louis”, I am nearing the top of the list, behind only Louis Vuitton, Louis CK and Louis Armstrong.

    I am not familiar with these men who appear ahead of me. However, we have some time off now. Is there a means of searching for more information about them so I can take the necessary steps to surpass them?

    Please let me know.

    Yours in victory,


    1. Aloysius:

      Your success in this tournament so far has already gone to your head.

      I think I need to remind you of some basic football principles that you seem to have forgotten:

      1. There is only one ball, so you need to have it.

      2. If you play on possession, you don’t have to defend.

      3. A pass is only useful if you beat an opponent with it.

      4. The pace of the ball determines the pace of the game.

      5. If you have the ball you must make the field as big as possible, and if you don’t have the ball you must make it as small as possible.

      6. What is defending? Defending is about space. The bigger the space, the harder it is to defend. It’s all about meters.

      7. A team that passes the ball around in its own defense is doomed. You must pass the ball to midfield, as soon as possible because that’s where your best players are, and then the whole defense will be behind the ball.

      8. Always strive for technically perfect football. The results will come automatically.

      9. Quality without results is pointless. Results without quality is boring.

      10. Football is simple. But nothing is more difficult than playing simple football.

      Keep these truths in mind, and your team will go far. If not, ah well…

      Don’t worry, you’ll start to see it once you understand it.


  14. Let me play a devil’s advocate role in the Nigel situation. I, with many of you, am also feeling losing Nigel is a huge lost as he has been one of our best players so far.

    With that said, if we want to lift the trophy, others should be ready to step up. We’ve seen Depay, Kuyt, Wesley and the Hunter did so during “crisis” in the last 3 matches.

    Without wanting to underestimate or discount Costa Rica, I can’t ask for a better situation – considering Strootman/Nigel’s absence – that we’ll face Costa Rica. Yes, Cillessen is shaky and yes our defense is shaky but it’s also yes that LvG has been able to figure things out and make adjustments. Also agree with the point that some of you made, i.e.: we have to attack more. My logic here vs Costa Rica is if we can score 4 goals, why do I care if Cillessen/defense is weak and let Costa Rica score 1/2/3 goals? Robben/Robin are so fast and good, they each just need 1-2 chances to score, be it against Argentina, Brazil or Germany (whom every pundit seems to think are the best teams out there).

    We have overcome the absence of Strootman and Nigel. As much as I love Nigel to be available, I believe someone – I don’t know who – will step up. Our losing Strootman/Nigel is probably equivalent to France losing Ribery. They are still performing and with the newly revived spirit, playing solidly “as a team”. I think we have that spirit this year as well.

    Hup Holland Hup!

  15. Teams like Argentina,Brasil,Portugal..are most dangerous when is the Dutch defense(middle)”clumsy”.And weak in game one on one.Messi,Ronaldo,Neymar,Nani,Oscar..earlier Figo..etc, they adore these situations “for killing Dutch naivety”.Against such teams need to be a warrior .No emotion.Weapons:total football.Van Gaal knows that.Control space.(ball possession is never mind thing)
    When you score a goal (if you have a chance) you have to go away .Score goal and score goal and score goal and score goal…Or break them or they will break you.(Mistakes 1998(against Brazil)and 2001(against Portugal-Cluivert missed 3-0 and it was 2-2)) Always to score one goal more.

    Switzerland -Argentina was something completely different.Switzerland had a good defense and 3,4,5..good “Balkan dribblers”.But did not have the guts to kill Argentina.And bad counter attack.Very bad.
    Belgium ?hahahaha Cosmic Force Number One!Great machine.But USA could win.Tournament is a dangerous thing.One bad day,reality admitted goals,PK,red card,injury…extra time..poor energy balance in the game …and goodbye.The end.

    Because the only reality today is concentration on the match Holland-Costa Rica.Every team has chance.
    And I,m pleased with the Dutch representation in Brasil.

    Van Gaal knows why use 532 and then 433.Yoyogi said right.Probably wants to sea how the other team plays and then place 433.Maybe it is risk..or less risk…Reaching the total football during a game and then will come bigger ball possession on the right way.

  16. Agree with Ars above… LVG has been using the same systems at the same times during each game. There’s a reason 10 out of 12 of our goals came in the second half. There is a reason Memphis is a super sub. It’s all a master plan.

    Did you notice that against Mexico in the first half we had the ball and didn’t know what to do with it? Its’ crazy but Mexico wanted us to play them, they gave us the ball and we were so perplexed from our usual 5-3-2 that we froze.

    I wonder what LVG is planning against CR. I can’t look beyond that game.

  17. Don’t forget the past few years on this blog we would all complain that we would play well for the first 20 minutes and then shut down.

    Now it’s the opposite but in a good way. We play shit for the first 45 and then step on the gas. Maybe that is the answer.

  18. Not that the Bleacher Report is a reliable authority of football reporting but I’m surprised they are ranking us as #2 after Colombia in their latest power ranking.

    I much prefer us being ranked low and play as underdogs.

    Good comment from bitterballen about our playing better at the end instead of beginning of the match, indeed, perhaps that IS the answer!

    1. hedonstix, i meant to reply to your post in the last thread. which bank do you work for and where?

      i think we have the psychological edge this time provided we do not succumb to the pressure. the young players have impressed so far and we have been playing musical chairs with our squad fielding nearly every player. it’s synergy at work. the whole > sums of it’s parts … we need everyone to contribute and so even when we lose a player to injury/suspension (hopefully we won’t anymore) the next guy steps up.

      i want to see clasie and lens both start the next game.

      i bought the blue robben jersey myself, i love it. where will you be watching? hup holland hup!

      1. bitterballen–

        I worked for ABN Amro. Back in the US now.

        Will be watching at a friend’s house this Sat., one of us is a Belgium supporter, we all will support Belgium v Argentina. Then he’ll support Holland afterward (one of his parent is Belgian, his grandparents are Dutch). We definitely are hoping for an all-Euro semi final on the Right side of the bracket.

        Even though we’ll be wearing Oranje this Sat, I think I’ll continue to wear my blue away RVP jersey, which I consider as our lucky color this year.

        Hup Holland Hup!

      2. Where can I buy the orange shorts that the NL have been wearing with the home orange shirt? For some reason the white shorts are marketed as the home shorts – not the orange ones.

  19. Nigel is a huge loss but I am still confident.

    LVG will have a plan for this difficult situation. I would play Clasie.






    1. I would change it a bit.





      Clasie may come in for Wijnaldum, Depay in for Lens in 2nd half. No underestimate Costa Rica but I think we start too conservative with 5-3-2. Once we build the lead, if needed we switch back to 5-3-2 for counter attack if needed.

  20. if Fifa will publish today fifa ranking here how it will look
    # Country Points
    1 Argentina 1555
    . Colombia 1555
    3 Germany 1486
    4 Belgium 1468
    5 Netherlands 1393
    6 Uruguay 1330
    7 France 1254
    8 Spain 1229
    9 Switzerland 1216
    10 Brazil 1174

    1. Van Dijk should not fall in the same trap as other Dutch players in going to a mid-tier club. He should try Milan, for instance, who really need a center back. Arsenal and ManU are other better choices for him, even if he has to be patient.

  21. I noticed that here no one asks himself why Blind ALWAYS plays. Do you all love nepotism or really think that he ALWAYS deserves a place in the basis?

  22. seven players of German team got flu symptoms…Their coach said: “Seven players are slightly ill with flu symptoms. It is not that bad at the moment and it could be partly about air conditioning, the travel, temperature differences. I do not want to make a drama of it. We hope the situation will ease.”

  23. Costa Rica’s manager wants to analyze Holland team.Haha,i don’t think he can manage it.
    Don’ t forget LVG is not an ordinary coach.He is a very experience,wise and gutsy masterful tactician.And also very very flexible.

    My bet for the score ~~ Netherlands 2 – Costa Rica 0.

    My favourite Lineup…






    Hup Holland Hup !!!

  24. On Saturday I hope Belgium upset Argentina in a hard fought physical contest where Alderweireld, Dembélé, Kompany, Vertonghen & Witsel all received 2nd yellow cards so they are all suspended the SF (additional red card will be fine), then Netherlands crushes Costa Rica. After that we will beat Belgium handily on the way to Final and finally deservedly we lift the Cup the first time.

    I read that Fer is out of QF. Hopefully he will be ready by SF. This means we are looking at the 4 pictures in Jan’s article for De Jong’s replacement. Does Jan have insider tip from LVG? Should we have a poll to vote for De Jong’s replacement just for fun?

  25. yes hien, yes ! good point about the vote…. i always love reading your positive comments. which 11 would you select BTW? i am curious because you bring reason/logic to the table

    1. I think I saw hien’s proposed formation 4-3-3 with Janmaat back in, both of which I would like to see. Slight difference is I’d like to see Clasie starts v Costa Rica instead of Wijnaldum.

      Can’t wait for Sat!

      Hup Holland Hup!

      1. Thank you. I just post my starting 11 a few posts up.

        I think Kuyt would do a good job as defensive midfield. He can defend, tackle, pass (forward and back), block, heading, win one-on-one situation. The only thing he is not good at is to dribble, which is not required for defensive mid. The only risk I see is that De Jong tends to stay back when we have corner kick while Kuyt going forward for heading so either Kuyt holds his position or someone else stay back (Wijnaldum?). For those reasons I prefer Kuyt than Blind at DM. There is no need for Kuyt to be RB as we have Janmaat. As long as our defense focus and do not underestimate Costa Rica then I think we should be able to keep out all the goals. I start with Wijnaldum and Lens to be a bit safe and to feel Costa Rica first, then I would sub Clasie and Depay in. Clasie has not played so I’d rather not starting Clasie b/c it may put too much pressure for him. Sub him in later like Fer then he will be more comfortable. You can see LVG has a reason to introduce Depay or Hunter in for RVP later in the game as he reads the game first. I’d rather having Lens to start to do all the hard work (running first) then Depay in for the kill. I also would like to see either BMI or Kongolo in the second half for Blind. Once we have a comfortable lead (2-0) we should get BMI or Kongolo some playing time to prepare for SF. The last question is should we get Krul/Vorm some playing time. I feel we should ride Cillessen to make him more comfortable and give him more experiences.

        I can’t wait for Saturday. Hup Holland Hup!

  26. Putting aside the de Jong dilemma, I think we really need to focus on how to beat Costa Rica.

    Tactically, they play something like a 541 and defend very well. Joel Campbell is the 1 in their formation, and he’s a very fast and athletic attacking player. Their other primary attacking player is Bryan Ruiz, who plays for PSV. If he and Campbell can be adequately addressed, then we should be able to neutralize much of their scoring threat. On defense, CR seems to play with three center backs as well, but they should be beatable with speed and skill. Navas, the goalkeeper, who plays in Spain, is another excellent keeper.

    My sense is that Costa Rica doesn’t have a lot of depth in their team (they also have injuries and suspensions in the back) and will likely play very deep and cautious against us — they will be wary of our speed and dribbling skills and probably pack the penalty box and look to counter.

    My suggestion is that we play 433 with Robben, RVP and Depay in front, Sneijder, Blind and Wijnaldum in the midfield, and Kuyt, de Vrij, Vlaar and Janmaat in defense. We’ll need rapid ball circulation and attacking runs off the ball – typical Dutch School football in this game.

    If we can score early, we can really take the game to them. I don’t think we want to be going into half time (let alone full time or extra time) with them at 0-0 though.

  27. Sad Sad Sad if De Jong is seriously out of the tournament. (There’s still a bit of hope though, he’s still training today)- You might say I’m a dreamer..

    However, if LVG could solve it on the spot and still maintain a win against Mexico, then I trust LVG would have the enough time to solve his absence against the upcoming matches.

    As with Clasie, if my guess isn’t wrong, I think LVG hasn’t use him up until now because he wants to use him as a secret weapon. Use Clasie against the real contenders such as Argentina or whoever we play in the final.

    However, with De Jong definately not playing in the next game, I guess it’s time for Clasie to shine!

    Come on Holland! Let’s show the world that the world owes us a cup! Let’s do this!

  28. Getting ready for the 4th of July here in the US, but a few more stats for those who are interested:

    Not surprisingly, all of the final eight remaining teams were their Group’s winners and all eight remain undefeated in this World Cup.

    However, only four teams have actually won all 4 of their games (Netherlands, Colombia, Argentina and Belgium). Brazil and Costa Rica have tied 2 of their games, and Germany and France have each tied 1.

    Additionally, we are the only team to average scoring 3 goals a game. The next best are Colombia at 2.75, France at 2.5 and Germany at 2.25.

    Not only are the Netherlands the highest scoring team, but we’ve had the most players score as well – 7 (Robben, RVP, Depay, de Vrij, Fer, Sneijder and Huntelaar).

    We are also the only remaining team to average conceding at least 1 goal a game. Most of the other teams are conceding only 0.5 goal per game (Colombia, France, Costa Rica and Belgium).

    However, 2 of our 4 goals conceded came off penalty kicks (vs Spain and Australia). Only two of the seven other remaining teams have had a penalty awarded against them (Costa Rica and Belgium). France and Colombia have each had 2 penalties awarded in their favor, and Germany, Brazil and the Netherlands have each been awarded 1.

    So in summary, we’re scoring more goals through more players than anyone else in this World Cup, and while we’ve conceded the most as well, two of those came on dubious penalties in the beginning of the tournament.

  29. I’ve read on and heard on TV that Fer might start against Costa Rica. Is he alredy recovered from injury? that’d be great news.

  30. I think CR are going to take a conservative approach, they know that by attacking the dutch they risk the chance of being 1 down by a sudden counter attack.
    CR might park the bus, cause they know that it would be harder for the dutch to score.
    I personally think that oranje should provide CR with posession score early threw a counter get a reaction from CR and then score another on a counter attack. Then all will be settle (hopefully).
    Nevertheless it will be the most difficult game for holland since for the first time they will be considered favourites to advance (we have been playing games where its been all 50 50) and CR will play with no baggage pressure.

  31. Today is unusually damp and humid where I live. It took me about 10% more time to do my usual 9km run of interval training, mostly because I was unable to really accelerate as usual when I was supposed to. Makes me appreciate all the more our performance against Mexico.

    On a side note, and for the french speakers here, my good friend – a die hard german supporter – just wrote me “Ils vont les bouffer tout cru les coquelets” (roughly: “they’ll eat them raw, the cockerels”). This comment made my day.

    1. Of course it makes a difference. I live in Malta (very humid since it is a small island) and it affects a lot because the body’s cooling system is less efficient.

      Luckily we will be playing at 17:00 for the remaining matches, although the next match at Salvador is still in high temperatures. The SF and (hopefully the Final) will be played further South so less of a problem. To be fair we already played Spain at Salvador same time, and it’s not too bad if we repeat the same performance 🙂

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