1974: Cruyff unique, but no cigar…

Although West Germany got the title in 1974, that World Cup was Johan Cruyff’s and Oranje’s tournament. And based on the historic numbers below, we can see why. In this tournament, Cruyff has had the most successful dribbles, he creates the most chances and he is playing all over the pitch. Something that was totally unique in those days and simply copied later by Barcelona and Messi (and others since).

Lots of players have their signature moves. But the first one to claim that at the world stage was Cruyff. He led Oranje to the finals and eventually lost against West Germany, but he dazzled the world with the so-called Cruyff Turn. Another iconic Cruyff move was the dribble in the finals. In the first minute, without any of the Germans touching the ball, JC found his way into the box, until he got fouled and Neeskens was able to score from the spot. The 1974 World Cup star was and always will be, Johan Cruyff.

So lets start with the second match Oranje played. After beating Uruguay with 2-0, Oranje faces Sweden. And Cruyff will have 12 successful dribbles in that match. Only eight (8) player managed to do this in one match, in the last 50 years.

Date Match Team Player No. success dribbels
12/07/1966 Portugal – Hungary Portugal Eusébio 12
07/06/1970 West-Germany – Bulgaria West-Germany Reinhard Libuda 12
17/06/1970 Brazil – Uruguay Brazil Jairzinho 13
19/06/1974 Netherlands – Sweden Netherlands Johan Cruijff 12
23/06/1974 Poland – Italy Italy Sandro Mazzola 12
22/06/1986 Argentina – England Argentina Diego Maradona 12
01/07/1990 England – Cameroon England Paul Gascoigne 13
05/07/1994 Nigeria – Italy Nigeria Jay Jay Okocha 15

It’s not just the number of dribbles that determined the domination of the Dutch #14. He is at the heart of everything. As the striker of the team, he’s also the dreh-und-angel-punkt. Or the pivot. He drops deep into midfield to start the move, or he moves to the left flank to start his dribble. Other players take the oppportunity to move into the striker position and to “arrive” in the hot spot as opposed to “being there” already. As a result, Johan only scored 3 goals at the World Cup, with Rensenbrink and Rep scoring more (wingers, both) but the former Ajax man was involved in eight of the 14 Oranje goals!

His assists against Argentina (the 3-0) and against Brazil (the 1-0) are typical for his tournament. Against Argentina, he moves into the left flank role and offers a great cross with his left for John Rep to finish. As JC left the central striker position, Rep moved into that role and is on hand at the far post to head the ball home. Against Brazil, Cruyff is on the right flank and he crosses the ball with his right this time, for Johan Neeskens to burst into the box and score.

In terms of dribbles and creativity, Cruyff is boss at the World Cup 1974, with one hand tied behind his back even. Cruyff has 54 touches in the opponent’s box for instance, a number only bettered by West Germany striker Gerd Muller. Cruyff was for Oranje what Messi is now for Barca: playmaker and finisher at the same time.

Player Successful dribbles
Johan Cruijff 34
Uli Hoeness 23
Sandro Mazzola 22
Jairzinho 19
Robert Gadocha 19
Francisco Marinho 19
Player chances created
Johan Cruijff 36
Kazimierz Deyna 29
Jairzinho 19
Robert Gadocha 19
Wolfgang Overath 18
Gerd Müller 18

La Naranja Mécanica (Clockwork Orange) as Rinus Michels’ team would be called, combines towards the finals, against host nation West Germany. The 2-1 defeat causes a national football trauma. Cruyff plays his weakest match, and according to myth, the so-called Bild Swimming Pool incident is at fault. The Bild magazine organised for some naked girls to dive into the pool where the Oranje players were relaxing in their hotel. Bild took the photos and published them a day before the finals. The phone calls from the players’ wives would be the cause for the lack of concentration in the finals. But what do the stats tell us?

West Germany sacrifices Berti Vogts and has him man mark Cruyff across the pitch. The touch map above shows that JC starts to wander around to get rid of Vogts. He is less dominant than usual and West Germany is able to destabilize his threat. Cruyff has zero attempts on goal and only has two would be assists on a team mate.

Johan Cruijff tijdens het WK 1974

Opponent Goals Assists Penalties Ball touches Goal attempts Key passes
Uruguay 0 0 0 107 4 5
Zweden 0 0 0 96 4 6
Bulgarije 0 1 1 91 3 11
Argentinië 2 1 0 86 4
Oost-Duitsland 0 0 0 63 1 6
Brazilië 1 1 0 73 2 2
West-Duitsland 0 0 1 66 0 2

In fact, without a dominant role for the #14, Oranje is still quite threatening. Holland has more attempts on goal than West Germany (14 v 11) and the same number of shots on target (5 v 5 ). Of those 14 attempts, 11 are from within the box, which shows that JC’s wandering about allowed other team mates to find threatening positions.

Stats Nederland
Goals Shots on target Possession
2 25 8 60,0%
0 30 7 62,6%
4 25 12 48,4%
4 17 9 57,2%
2 14 5 62,1%
2 12 6 51,9%
1 14 5 57,8%


Stats opponent
Goals Shots On target
Uruguay 0 1 0
Sweden 0 8 3
Bulgaria 1 11 3
Argentina 0 2 1
East-Germany 0 9 1
Brazil 0 14 1
West-Duitsland 2 11 5

The main difference with previous matches at the tournament, based on the stats – is the defence. West Germany is the only team to reach 10 goal attempts against Holland. West Germany has six attempts from within the box, of which four on target. This is an aspect that hasn’t been discussed too often: the key difference between this game and earlier matches was not so much Cruyff’s performance, but the performance of Oranje defensively.


Opponent Attempts from outside the box Attempts from within the box
Uruguay 1 0
Sweden 5 2
Bulgaria 4 4
Argentina 0 0
East-Germany 2 0
Brazil 3 0
West-Germany 6 4

Johan Cruyff in his autobiography “My side of the Story” about the 2-1 defeat. “I think we were actually too arrogant. I think we felt we could and would beat them. We were 1-o up in the first minute and wanted to play with them. And once you are at that point, it’s hard to turn it around. We had so many opportunities, but it felt like, whatever we tried, the ball didn’t wanna go in. We simply weren’t 100%. Both offensively and defensively. Look at the goals we conceded. We never conceded goals like that second by Gerd Muller. We were constantly a step too late. It was a mental thing.”

Cruyff did see the benefits of losing the finals. “Somehow, the story became better. The best team to never win it, and all that. And our style of play became famous. No one talks about the 1974 West Germany team, do they? And with our philosophy, we showed players who aren’t strong and tall can be stars. Rep, Rensenbrink, Jansen, myself… All over the world, football changed because of us.”

Today, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Arsenal, Manchester City, they all seem to play fluid, without a fixed central striker, with lots of movement… the seed of this was sown by Cruyff, Van Hanegem and Neeskens and co in 1974….

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  1. By watching games at WC, I am getting more and more convinced that the main problem of Oranje has been the lack of organization in the team and the most important the lack of commitment. I do not think quality-wise we are inferior to Sweden, Denmark, or Iceland but we certainly do not give 100% in the field. And that is mainly a coach’s job to select players who are really committed to Oranje. Hopefully, Koeman will be the one who can find players who are mentally ready to play for the National.

    In general, the level of teams at WC is just an average. All perennial WC winner candidates looked very poor. Germany, France, and Argentina were the worst. Brazil was too calculated and unimpressive. Spain will have problem if they do not fix defensive issues. I liked England and of course C. Ronaldo will drag his mediocre Portugal further and further. I admire his commitment to FOOTBALL at all levels.

    FIFA will extend the number of teams up to 48 in 2026 and primarily at the expense of the Third World teams. This WC shows that it might be not a good idea….But who cares about quality of a WC if it brings money…

    1. We were screwed up by Danny Blind,kevinstrootman,stekelberg….ultimatly i would say Clueless Danny Blind….this guy has cost us 2 touranment where even Iceland qualified….Especially Euro2016 was so easy…

      1. Actually, it is the KNVB that gave him the job and even though he miserable failed in the last two EK qualifiers, they still gave him the job for the WK qualification.

        Or if you want, why not give it to Koeman after 2014 in the first place? to start the rebuild early…

        this is one BIG KVBN f up… no question about it.

  2. PSV have now signed Angelino (Man city), Viergever (Ajax) and Dumfries ( heerenveen) in the bid to strength the squad before the CL qualification. Van ginkel and mason mount negiotation is still going on. Lorzano Hiriving will defintely make a big money move after the world cup and this would probably fund both transfers of chelsea duo.looking good for them.

    Else where Ajax will face austrian side Sturm Graz in the qualifiers.

  3. Oh please stop blaming individuals for not reaching the tournaments.

    It gets really old.

    At the end of the day, it’s the players that need to show the desire. For God sakes mate, if players like Van Persie, Robben and Strootman don’t agree with Danny Blind they should speak up!!

    The players like AZ Forever said, didn’t have the commitment, the grit and probably the quality.

    How can you blame a player who is a starter for AS Roma for seasons on end??

    Or a player who is key for Liverpool??

    Do you really think there is kryptonite in the orange jersey.

    It comes down to: team tactics, available quality, commitment and desire.

    Player for player, we are definitely better than Sweden, Serbia, Iceland, Denmark (maybe not Eriksen).

    They made it. We didn’t.

    But for this last qualification tournament, don’t forget: one more goal vs Sweden away (Dost!!) and we would have made it.

    One less goal conceded vs Bulgaria away.

    If Sweden would have scored less vs Belarus (?).

    If France would not have made that stupid howler (Lloris).

    That surely is not Strootman’s fault? Or Stekelenburgs? Or Blinds? Or Hiddink?

    Stop talking shit please.

    1. We should make our way based on our own performance…strootman and stekelenberg has made stupid mistakes..So was Danny…We should not be depend own Loris howler or Refree mistakes are part of game…yes we blame Blind for selecting a no working team vs Bulgaria…We started well with San marc and Advocate..But hwen both left we went to chaos…Blind couldnt do it…its a shame for Players and fans..
      anyways past is past..this is wat you get when you are so stuborne..After Bert showed that in 2012…
      I hope koeman doesnt make same mistakes…

  4. Watched yesterday Russia vs Egypt: Russians were suspiciously running very fast. Perhaps they need to go through doping test. The team were so unimpressive during the preparation stages that I thought they would hardly get a point. Russian experts and former football players had said that “this is the worst Russian team ever”. Now, they lead the group with six points. There is no a single player who plays abroad, all are from Russian Premier league. Not sure whom to give a kudo: to the coach, players or doping? After Sochi, it is hard to trust Russians and especially Putin with his endless desire to show the World that Russia is still mighty regardless of sanctions. Did you see his swagger when Russians were killing poor Saudi Arabia?

    I am a big fan of African football. In this tournament I expected a lot from Morocco with their Dutch contingent and of course Egypt. However, neither of teams have impressed so far. It is sad that Mo Salah was not 100% fit. I feel that Morocco will explode against Portugal. Hopefully Zeich will show his class. At least I hope so. Not sure how you feel, but I get excited when I see boys from Eredivisie and particularly Alireza Jahanbakhsh :). He did a lot of defensive work when they played against Morocco. Out of five African teams, however, Tunisia and Senegal have really stood up. Particularly, Senegal. In the game with Poland, they showed excellent organization which is so uncharacteristic for the most of non-Arabic African teams. Hopefully, they will continue the momentum. I highly rated Poland but except stupid running back and force I did not see anything. There is a couple of questions that remained unanswered:
    1. When will the big football nations wake up and show what they are expected to show?
    2. Is it a sunset for the German golden generation?
    3. When will Russian doping get exhausted?

    Cheers, enjoy World Cup.

      1. Mexicans runs like hell,So is Costarica,Panama and USMNT…
        Australia is not bad runner either…When you practice running like a marathonyour stamina increses and you can run box to box with out tireness…i have personally experienced that in my short football game experience,you feel like u can play more than 2 hours continuously….
        its all about physical conditioning and stamina…
        If you have doubt ask kuyt…some players know they are lesser players but they make up that with work rate…it makes hell for other team..

  5. Its no use dwelling on the past when the 2002 failure was a far more greater one than that of the current generation who obviuosly have their short comings. The future looks brighter under the new management and looking at the world and with the completion of the first rounds it clear ” the level of teams are not jus average” but but as usual the preparations time for teams With their players,especially those playing in top leagues have shifted the competency to the next level. This wouldnt have been possible during qualifers where teams jus get over one or two weeks to assemble the team.

    Im sure if NT would have qualified and with more more preparation time like to that of other qualified teams who went through friendly matches and team bonding seasons,NT to would have been in the mix with other teams.

    Being said this, the big teams might click later on as they approach the knoch out stages where the whole team given the depth will collectively bring in their A game. If you look at teams like france, Brazil, germany then clearly havnt find their Rythm.

    Not only the big guns but teams like Iceland, Croatia,senegal with team effort could prove to be decisive.

  6. Re: Russians Running the Netherlands players and coach must take note of the need for speed, so get them to run like Emmanuel said above. of course about organisation, koeman is aware of the importance of it but mistakes playing players in poor form even if he is experienced and players injured or just recovering from injury needs to be avoided

  7. Top post Jan, Cruyff’s stats can’t be denied, he along with his team mates and coach changed football forever in 1974, he will,always be remembered along side the other greats like Pele, George Best and Maradonna, all of whom greatly affected the way football was played at the time.
    I’m loving this WC, Ziyech showed his class last night Morocco were by far the better team against Portugal they would be kicking themselves that they gave Ronaldo the space to score that header. Ronald is really consolidating his position as one of the worlds best footballers at present but I can’t see Portugal going too deep into the tournament.
    Russia is the big surprise 8 goals in 2 matches that’s impressive regardless of whom they have played, maybe last 8 for them.
    My two tips to win have disappointed in their first matches Brazil and Ze Germans, but I’m sure they will come good.
    I’m really hoping Australia can beat Denmark tonight, except Erickson they are weak and I’m hoping Aussie spirit will come through if not it’s game over for the green and gold.
    As a nation Holland can only learn from their past performances, it’s no longer good enough to play nice football, you have to win matches it doesn’t matter how.
    Koeman has the chance to inject fresh blood into our team but he needs to instil a fighting mentality that you see in lots of the footballing minnows, there should be nothing more important than playing for Oranje!

    Anyway keep the comments coming we only get this every 4 years so let’s indulge in what could have been if we were there!
    Hip Holland

  8. My underdog team is croatia and I jus cant wait for them to take on Argentina. They have a very good squad and if the backline dont crumble they will go a long way. They have so much depth in forwards and in midfield department.apart from Kovaic whose was used sparingly at Real, Rakitic, Modric, Rebic Kramaric, Persic mandzukic and Brozovic all had a good season at their respective clubs.

    @ jan

    You mentioned croatia as one team whom NT is better head to head with each player. I was defintely disagree here as apart from Depay and Van Dijk I wouldnt rank anyone else above the starting 11 for this croatian team.

    Belgium is my top bet to win the WC.

    1. On the other hand I will totally be proven wrong and will have to put my head down in shame if portgual wins the WC.obviously if portgual win the WC then Ronaldo will become a god and will go down in history books as those legends who singly handed truimphed WC. Out of everbody, I one have always maintainded that that the time has gone where one man could singly handed win the world cup in todays era.

      In addition to this Ronaldo will become the greatest player in his generation overtaking messi who will jus end up like JC.

  9. lol Croatia is leading one goal against Argentina

    If Argentina lose this match , they will be in the danger of getting eliminated

    Di Maria , higuain on the bench , their coach must be nuts !

    1. The AR players on the field were nutz. Kicking the ball in Rakitic’s face from 30cm while he was on the ground? Should have been a red.

      TV commentator here (Switz) said Dybala could put his jersey straight in his closet and would not need a shower after the game. Lol.

    2. No..Yan Dont be surprised of their Exit..Arjentines cheaters,Still mathematically they can reach next round remember 1978…
      i was sure that they are not going to win it..but i expected a draw due to Macherano..
      Di maria is an overrated headlesschiken…Higuain is like our Davy klassen..He requires more chances to score compared to Aguero..
      After the substitution arjentines become weak…
      What i hate the most was Refree played like 12 th mna of arjetina..its Vicory against Refree as well..Messi and co are over protected…Refree thinks only croatia makes foul…there was some atrocious fouls comitted by arjentine like Mercada,macherano and otomendi did.while Mercada and otomendi deserved red…
      Croatia attack was ligthening quick it reminde me of Vaart-sneijder-Robin-Roben combination in EC2008..
      Kudos ans salute to Croatianss….

      1. Clearly shows you never watched the game and you analysis is bullshit. It was the croatian midfield that did the damage especially modric and Rakitic. Mandzukic is not fast but he did played his heart out going back and forth.

        The problem with argentina was their midfield. Sampaoli switched from a more vibrant 4-2-3-1 to a dull 3-4-3 with by two defensive midfield in the engine room. There was no balance in the team, engine room wasnt productive and there werent any clear defintion as to what the team collectively had to do.

        My biggest disappointment was to that Giovani lo celso whom Sampaoli should have started in both games.he had such a breakout season at PSG and is a very talented midfield/Winger.

        1. Marcos Acuna was the only creative player for Argentina from that wing back position. He was better than Di maria but unfortunately all Messi, Aguero, dybala and higuan have zero ariel strength and most of his good crosses was not contested.this is where Icardi defintely would have made the difference.

          Mandzukic on the other hand was constant threat on crosses.

          Messi, Higuan, Aguero should retire from internationals. Its time for icardi, dybala,Acuna,Lo celso and paredes to start a new generation for Argentina.

          Sampaoli with a doubt got it wrong.

        2. Wilson stupid….Vaart and Sneijder are midfeilders for your FYI…then i was not tlaking about the running speed of Manduzic…the other two guys Persie,Rebic had the the running speed…i was tlaking about incredible decison making on passing of both Modric and Rakitic….it is similliar two Vaart and sneijder….Which is what your favorite player Elghazi lacks…i mean footballing intelligence..thats why i call Elgahzi a headless chiken,promes another one…Afellay was perfect example of headless chicken …all these ur favorite players lacks footballing intelligence..

          1. Lightening speed of thoughts….u idiot….what the hell made u think that sneijder and Vaart are not midfeilders???Does they have speed like Roben???(i mean physical speed)every kid in the planet knows about..You know why i dont rate Elghazi,Afellay,Elvis manu,Promes, dont rate high????Coz they lacks what Rakitic,Modric,Vaart and Sneijder has…thought execution speed…they have physical speed in persie,Rebic and the other guy on right as well,All has certain level of intelligence as well..

          2. Its either you dont how to pick the right words or as usually you anaysis is based from the extended highlight.croatioan attack, lightening quick and than comparing them to the RVP, vaart, Robben and sneijder. Did you take you diarrhoea tablet. Yes Modric and Rakitic have some of the qualities of vaart and sneijder but there is no way that the croatioan attack were lightening quick. Have you being watching justice league. I also agree persic is a fast winger but he is not as ” lightening quick” as Robben for that matter. Also if tell someone that rebic is lightening quick, they will laugh at you. It jus his momentum that propels him forward. Momemtum dies he dies. He is more a wing/striker type player.

            There was only one occasion that the croatioans caught the argentines clean and cold on counter. The one rebic blastered it over the bar with persic clear.

            Incase if I may have missed what else did you see that made you say the attack was lightening quick.

  10. News of the Year: Royston Drenthe is in Sparta!!!!! What an “amazing” career this guy has. At some moment I thought Memphis Depay would follow Drenthe’s step but thanks God it did not happen.

    1. While at the same time, we can learn from Nigeria about how to beat Iceland. Speedy winger (Moses), striker with good first touch and good finishing (Ahmed Musa). Not wasting time with the stupid back passes.

      As I remember, Holland NT was beaten twice in the Euro qualification in 2015/2016.

      I remember the time when Holland NT still have Marc Overmars. Very fast. And then they have Robben.

      1. I thought the win was tatical one but at the same time agree about the well taken goals by Musa. How many times we have seen 4-4-2 being dominated by more efficient 3-5-2 especially with that extra man in the midfield.wilfred Ndidi did put in a master class performance from the midfield with Musa and Iheanacho leading the line up front.

        Im sure Nigeria and gernot rohr will be tempted to use the same lineup vs Argentina especially with the disoriented argentine midfield.

      2. @ bobotoh

        What if messi comes to life like in the qualifiers where they were almost on the brink of missing out until he delivered it.

        Well there has been few speculations after the completion of the second rounds in this group. The Nigerians are wary of the croatian fielding their second string side vs Iceland which could turn the tide into icelands favour.

        The other scenario is that the last rounds of games will be played simultaneously so if either Argentina and Iceland win, they have to win big while nigeria needs a clear cut win.

        1. I just hope that, may the best team win. So we can watch very interesting football matches until the final.

          Argentina still have Messi. Remember that he is one of the best footballer in the world. The football fans in the world, or Argentina in particular, are still waiting for something to happen. We can still wait for Messi to do his magic, like he did in the last qualifying match.

  11. @Wilson:

    “You mentioned croatia as one team whom NT is better head to head with each player”

    Wilson, where did I say this? I don’t think I did… Croatia is strong, have an awesome squad.

    Show me where I say this please?

    1. “Player for player, we are definitely better than Sweden, Serbia, Iceland, Denmark (maybe not Eriksen).”

      Im not sure how you interpreted mine.

        1. I would still say Serbia has better quality players than NT at the moment. Tadic could fit in any top team. Matic is the type of midfielder which NT doesnt have. Kolorov and ivanovic still are going strong regardless of their age. Sergej Milinković-Savić is one of best raising talent in europe and most of the big teams are vying for his signature.mitovoic also jus lack consistence another wise he very decsive infront of goal.(giroud)

  12. Interesting World Cup so far. I wonder how far Oranje would have progressed if we had made it. My guess would be the Round of 16 or maybe the Quarterfinals at best. It would have been good experience for the players and also help them showcase their talents.

    All the top contenders and so called dark horses seem to have their issues. Germany got their tactics and effort wrong vs. Mexico. France looks lackluster. Spain does not look solid in defense. Brazil is not playing like they should. Belgium looks decent and Croatia took full advantage of Argentina’s meltdown. I feel the WC is more open this time around than in the past.

    BTW, VAR has been very good for the most part. It’s still controversial at times but it always better to get the right call even if it disrupts the flow of the game.

  13. I only caught the second half, but Belgium were electrifying today!

    And I know it’s only Tunisia, but the passing, rapid ball movement, positional interchange, etc. were fantastic. I didn’t want it to end.

    It’s what football should look like. If only those yellow jerseys were just a little more orange…

  14. Actually, our Orange situation is mainstream of modern football nowaday, we don’t have to blame anyone on this, most of big nation in football industry have met this situation earlier than us & they have tried to build new generations to recover their reign for ex: Brazil, Germany, Belgium, England, Poland. So we should proud of that we dominated others longer than those big countries. This time is crisis for Orange & Italia so let’s see which country will better & faster to be back top level or become mediocre team.

    1. Agree Ruud but I think for the dutch it will take a longer period of time than the Italians. The sustainability of eredivisie is a question mark and even though things are looking good at youth level, smooth transition to NT still is not guranteed. If you look at the italians or in serie A the smaller teams become the catalyst for producing talents whom the top teams feed on and hence becoming a stepping stone in reaching their max ceiling. You look at simone verdi, Matteo politano, bryan christane, federico chisea all of whom are in the new look italian side under Mancini. Napoli has signed verdi from Bologna. Christane has moved to Roma from Atalanta,chisea( fiorentina)and politano (sassuolo) are all suject to big transfers.they will defintely hit form in a season or two with CL football also on the cards.this is how smooth their transition will be leading to their national side.

      Compare to them the same cant be said about eredivisie or Dutch NT either.

    1. In the best case scenario, if Mexico win their group, they’ll play the runner-up team from Group E (say the Swiss). Avoiding Brazil will be very helpful for them. If that’s the case, they’ll face England or Belgium in the Quarterfinals. Not impossible to beat either of those two but I’m not betting money on it.

      So yeah, Mexico can have a decent run this time around if things line up for them but overall, I don’t think they’re a solid team. Germany just fumbled big time which made them look better than they really are.

    2. I always liked Mexico as well. But they seem to always fizzle out in the knock out stages. Probably because they end up playing Brazil or us 😉

      Well, as Yoyogi said they could also end up playing “us” (I’m swiss, but don’t care much about the swiss team), so there is hope for them…

  15. i think there serious issue in identifying the talents from early age…i mean upcoming dutch players…there are plenty of elvis manus,Dumbfries,Promes are selected over singravens….Dutch should look in to intelligent players with decent skill and speed…
    players like Kalvin stengs,Bazoer are really top notch talents….but lot of things depend on their attaitude….

    1. I’m really hoping bazoer gets a transfer from Wolfsburg he is too good to be sitting on the bench. He should be still getting called up for Netherlands too

  16. Really enjoying watching Senegal as well. Very attacking oriented and willing to be athletic!

    I’d love to see them go far, as I think they could be trouble for the more established teams

  17. It doesnt matter how good your midfield or forwards are if you dont have good defense. Teams like argentina poland serbia have showed that. That is why i think netherlands wouldve had such a good shot at winning the tournament if they were in it they definitely wouldve placed top 3

      1. Netherlands are way better than south korea and mexico. Germany wouldve been tough but based on how theyve been playing so far netherlands probably wouldve won

  18. Guys,

    Update on Calvin Stengs: he recovered from the injury but has been training separately. Re-entry will happen tentatively in October. Myron Boadu has been training with the main squad. He is fully fit.

  19. Third round of WC is over. To me, so far only Brazil, Croatia, France and England seem as complete teams where all lines are equally well developed. Then we have, Belgium (defensively not very impressive), Germany (attacking power is not there), and Mexico (mentally not very strong). The other contender, Spain, in addition to questionable defense, has not impressed in general. I hope in the last round of the group stage, Iran will end Portuguese illusion.

  20. It truely is anyone’s World Cup this time, England did what they needed to do , belt in 6 goals against a lesser opponent, How many times has our NT failed to do that, or just scrapped through.
    Belgium and Croatia are looking very solid, can they keep it going? It’s hard to maintain a high standard over so many games in a short period, they will stumble at some stage, it’s a matter of how big a stumble!
    Germany are doing their typical tournament thing, start slow but just make it until the big games start, I would like to see them play another big nation to get a gauge on where they are. Sweden should have had that game won at halftime, but Lady Luck was not present for once.
    I’m still backing Brazil but I’m not so confident they will do it, and if the Argies go out in the playoff stage then I would not head home if I was one of their players!

  21. Wow! Amazing how one game (or even half) can change everything…

    Everything possible goes wrong for Russia against Uruguay today.

    But maybe a blessing in disguise? If current form holds, the top of the knock-out bracket could possibly include Uruguay, Spain/Portugal, France, Nigeria (or possibly Argentina), Brazil, Germany, England / Belgium, and Japan / Senegal / Colombia.

    The bottom half of the bracket, where Russia is likely headed, looks much less formidable, although Croatia may actually be the best team in the tournament

  22. My observations so far? No serious defense anywhere. The weight is mostly in creation so that leaves an opening for a defensive minded team to take it, but there is none.

    Greece2004, Argentina1990 could take this tournament even though the spectacle was atrocious.

    Point is, with the best generation ever in defense, we could have been there and we can be there next time. Euro and WK. With a more tidy midfield we are good to go.

    This tournament is/would be ripe for a defensive minded team.

    Having said that Brazil seems to have the package sans the clownish Neimar.

  23. World cup aside,inter milan are on a rampage in the transfer. Stefan De Vrij ( Lazio) Rajda Nainggolan ( roma),Kwadwo Asamoah (juventus), lautaro Martinez (Racing) and negiotation with Malcom (bordeaux) is well under way. With regulars Icardi, Persic,Škriniar,Miranda and Handanović, this could be the best inter team after that 2010 squad that won the champions league under Mourinho.team to watch next season.

  24. Jan:

    I’m normally pretty resistant to applying the statistics/ analytics revolution to football because it’s such a different sport, where numbers don’t do justice in describing the quality of the game itself. Number of corner kicks, distance covered by players, percentage of possession, touches in the attacking third, etc. seem manufactured / contrived to me just to come up with something / anything to measure. Further, seeing that a centerback has completed 94% of his passes doesn’t really tell me anything either.

    So when I recognized that you were going to provide a statistical analysis of the performance of one of the world’s all-time greatest and most artistic players, I was pretty skeptical. However, the statistics you chose to focus on (successful dribbles, chances created, key passes, attempts from outside / inside the box, etc. ), actually told the story of 1974 much better than I was expecting. Maybe it’s just hindsight that enables us to extract the most meaningful numbers to illustrate the groundbreaking nature of Cruyff’s play, but it seems like the stats you chose would be much more interesting to apply to modern football than most of the analysis we get on TV today.

    There’s certainly a balance to be struck between the “eye test” for a player’s or team’s quality and the basic measurables (goals, assists, passes completed, etc.), but far too often our modern obsession with numbers fails to provide the insight into football that we are looking for. So thanks again for providing this meaningful analysis where in fact the numbers don’t necessarily tell the whole story but also don’t lie!

  25. Is anybody finding it odd that at each WC, there seems to be most powerhouses in one side of the knockout draw, and, hmmmmmm, how to say this…

        1. Platini already admitted that for 1998. What else do we need? Did you see the Boateng push against Berg with Sweden? VAR was out of batteries at the time LOL … fixes in soccer? ah… never 🙂

  26. Cillessen and Liverpool are talking :):):)

    How geweldig !!!!! About time to setup a Dutch community with a progressive system and an innovative coach versus the cheaters of Real Theshit 🙂

    1. Do you really give Argentina any chance? I mean even 1/1000? to me it seems like someone needs to unplug this coma patient…

      Just curious ….

        1. Though sampaoli did a gamble by starting 4-4-2 but boy marcherano did put in a captains performance from the midfield. I never rated him highly but after todays game he needs to be there vs progba and kante. Defintely marcherano and Bangea delievered a materclass performance and will be starter vs France. Surely this will be booster for sampaoli and argentina. Higuan, Higuan,Higuan, my lord, biggest mistake of Sampaoli. Maradona reactions said it all when he missed a shitter.also argentines looked better when they switched to back 3.

          1. neither Nigeria or Argentina are a match for France, not even for training IMO. As per Mascherano, he is called “Lentosson” by his own newspapers after the game with Iceland and not without a reason. Personally I find him atrocious and was mocked several times by Nigerian dribbles but that is my opinion. Sure a great player in the past but past is past and gone now.

          2. The hunger that the Argentine showed after the equalizer was emphatic if they can replicate the same vs france with few more changes,it could be a entertaining game.

            As mentioned earler sampoali will try to build on the positives from this game. I hoping to see Giovani Lo celso starting vs France.

          3. we will see.. Saturday is very soon. For me the game I am waiting for is Russia Spain. Russia is capable of anything like 0-3 or 3-0 … and Spain is not that good.

            Overall, nice world cup so far very attack oriented !

            I expect Korea-Germany and Sweden-Mexico to be super games because all 4 play clean and no cheating, theatrics etc…

            Looking forward for tomorrow morning here on the West Coast !

    1. Just like any other tool, it is used mostly to the benefits of the strong. Brings justice to games between Iceland and Peru (just an example, I know they are in different groups) but ignored when it doesn’t promote the interests of the big powers. Just like the entire World Cup parade. Spain sells 500 million shirts and 1 billions speaks Spanish to watch TV, Holland sells 10 million shirts and has 20 mil viewers.

      Referee DECLINED to even watch the Berg Boateng penalty in VAR… If that is not a clear penalty then I live in Mars… Mars is probably better than here because Holland will not miss a WK there LOL

    1. Honestly, do not know. Weghosrt’s work ethics is very high. He will give 100% in the field. However, his technical deficiency might be very big obstacle for him to get a playing time. While playing for AZ, he was missing 3-4 great chances before scoring one. Will he get so many chances against Bundesliga clubs, I do not know…I hope he will be successful but I am a bit skeptical. I am also skeptical about Alireza Jahanbakhsh who has been in contact with Brighton, I believe. Although play style of Iran national team highly limited his attacking abilities and he spent a lot of time helping defense, he was not very convincing in attack in WC games. He was avoiding going forward and doing speedy runs on the flanks. He needs to stay in Alkmaar for another season and get a taste of Europa League games then move on. However, AZ will want to make money on him as Calvin will most likely start in October.

  27. i cannot stand this Messi Hha ha ha ha a stand..So much PU@###Sy fans…Messi sissi needs a world cup etc….the guy cannot even tie up the shoes of maradona,who had single handly won Napoli champions and Arjnetina in 1986….The must pack the bag ..it mandatory for ethics in football..
    I hope France france pack them up…But stupid deshamps guy has dropped their most mercurious finisher antony martial…France are struggling for goals..though are a cut above team…

  28. Which France are we talking about here, the one that needed a very generous PK to beat Australia, or the one that couldn’t score against Denmark?

    1. France has good players but no leaders. It is a complete team albeit not in great shape overall.

      But how would you compare France to Argentina and Germany? Don’t you think it is all relative?

  29. Prediction. All the folks who praised Low, Germany, their youth development system etc etc now they will talk trash and make him look like Van Marwijk in 2012… Guys, all teams face declines… Spring, Summer….. Fall, Winter 🙂

    1. Good one ! Hope dies last, so yes better to qualify…marginally better… It is hard not to be there at all. Remember EK 2012. Still better to be there. To play, to find your weaknesses and fix them. To make new plans.

      Nothing worse than not being there. my $0.02

      1. and one more thing that escaped my attention. These tournaments are probably the only opportunity to stitch together a team and a strategy … so it is super important to participate even if you fail. All that time together is not wasted at the end.

        It is very sad we didn’t make it. Sure I would be pissed if we ended like Germany like we did in 2012 but it’s a lot better from many aspects in the long run to be there.

        How did we manage to lose participation in two tournaments ?? Beats me

        1. I think I’d prefer not to go than go and lose in embarrassing fashion — 2012 is a great example!

          This tournament is further indication that while certain countries appear to maintain a sustained level of success, international football is really driven by star players and “golden generations”. We’ve certainly had our share but have only won once. Germany has had several quality generations of players. Brazil and Italy as well. Maybe this will be Belgium’s or Croatia’s year — these are certainly the two best sides they’ve ever had (at least since Yugoslavia split up).

          1. Bigger countries have more population, therefore more options and they can rebuilt faster… although every rule has an exception.

            Croatia has not been tested yet. Mexico appeared a possible dark horse till a few hours ago. Let’s see if Croatia takes Denmark (a weak team for sure but better than Iceland or this Argentina). Don’t forget Croatia barely made it to the World Cup. Just saying, let’s see them with a real opponent which might happen at the 8s at the earliest…

            As per Belgium, yes they are capable. Imagine if they do it… OMG, what an egg on our face that would be… Boy we will get taunted till the end of time. The red haired stepchild of the Dutch family brings home gold LOL

            PS: 2012 was very embarrassing but put a sense of urgency and thus we made semis in 2014….

  30. Germany out! Joachim Low lost it this time. I have never seen such reckless defending from any team. Completely exposed to counter-attacks. Offense not clicking. They keep trying the same thing over and over again.

    Credit to the Koreans! They defended like their lives depended on it.

        1. I think it was the Round of 16. That was a very very physical game. VAR would have red-carded at least 3 or 4 players if it was around back then.

          Spain also plays a very high defensive line with Ramos and Pique exposed to counters. De Gea like Neuer is also looking a bit shaky. Hierro better learn from Germany and make adjustments. The only difference is that they are at least scoring goals.

  31. Mexico is in!!! It was a huge gift from South Korea!.

    Mexico played a horrible game, we have very small players and our coach should have played with a taller center forward. Chicharito is not good when it comes to facing tall defenders.

    1. Best of Luck Miguel…Mexico had an astonishing team in 2006…they outclasse Arjentina in round 2 and due to unluck and 1 special foul they lost the game…i think bad luck is hunting them always…most probably they will face Brazil next round…which is another bad thing..

    1. Come on buddy, it was not just that. It was a string of BS… look at what LLoris did and allowed that stupid 1 point there for the Swedes.

      Here is the counter argument though. Hear me. Have you seen how Andreas Granqvist plays? Like his f life depends on it. If you tell him cut your arm for King and Country he will say how about both???

      I mean why can’t we have a guy like him? a true CAPTAIN with capitals 48 point letters. He takes charge, he pushes, he shoves, he defends, he congratulates, he encourages and he takes the f penalties.

      He is like Vlaar and Stam at their best combined. He has more fire in his belly than all of our players combined.

      So why is not fair for them to take our spot? just being an honest observer…

      Compare him to Depay and co.. Instagram, Facebook, shit and image… Come on brother.. WTF is that….

      One Granqvist and 2010 would be ours …maybe 2014 too. Why? am i asking too much?

      ok end of rant…

      1. Demi…..i was not joking about sweden hardwork,commitment and intelligence and desire…To cancel out a Goal Basdost scored requires luck(that would have finished them)..LLoris stupidity is rare…it also requires luck…
        Strootmna stupidity is also rare it requires luck as well..
        yes i do agree i dont like dutch arrogance,perhaps thats why they are watching in home…

        1. we were VERY unlucky on top of everything else. That is so true !

          Arrogance is fine but needs to be combined with work rate and pride in the field.

    1. Sweden looks much more conservative in their approach and set up compared to past tournaments. They are a decent organized side that’s solid defensively. They play direct and are dangerous on set pieces. They were very patient with Mexico waiting for their chances. They play the Swiss next round so they have a shot are reaching the Quarterfinals.

      1. No doubt that Sweden play really well. They do not have any star but the whole team play with urgency and a game plan. Quarterfinal will be tough for them, it will be Colombia/England/Belgium.

  32. Last time when Germany played so bad was 2004 EC. Germany’s from demise – to- demise cycle lasted 14 years. It is like a recession 🙂

    1. No they were really Shit since WC1998 to WC2004…Just average on 2006 as well.Some how won match agaist Arjentina in 2006..Not just Germany,italy,england all were inferior to dutch from 1998 to 2004…We could nt win anything due t bad luck…nothing more….Ireland,Portugal,France and Holland were super teams of that period,…

  33. I guess schadenfreude IS a German term. Not going to go there though.

    Maybe they’ll hire Klinsmann back again?

    Koeman is probably proudly wearing his Olaf Thon jersey…

    1. schadenfreude should not apply to the inventors of the term, it really belongs to Argentina… Saturday can not come soon enough for Brazilian fans…

      The tens of thousands of Argentine fans who have invaded Brazil to cheer for their team, and taunt their hosts, brought with them a song — set to the tune of “Bad Moon Rising” by Creedence Clearwater Revival — that predicts not just triumph for Argentina, but deep humiliation for Brazil. And the players themselves have joined the choir.

      The song, “Brasil, Decime Qué Se Siente,” or, “Brazil, Tell Me How It Feels,” asks the Brazilians how they like being bossed around in their own house and suggests that Lionel Messi is about to follow in the footsteps of Diego Maradona by returning the World Cup to Argentina.
      The lyrics include a dig about a famous goal scored against Brazil by Argentina’s Claudio Caniggia in the 1990 World Cup, and the song concludes with what my colleague David Waldstein called “the most incendiary statement of all: ‘Maradona es más grande que Pelé.’”

      1. Its hard to believe Low left a winger like Sane at home and then started a midfielder (goretzka) on the wings. Gundogan should have defintely started over Khedira. Khedira and strootman are in the same boat. The ACL injuries have taken its toll on them. I jus hope Arsenal also sells Ozil and bring in more consistent midfielder.

        1. On another note I dont think this will affect the germans much.they still have enough ammunition in their ranks.

          Sane,Gnabry,stindl,volland, Meyer, Ginter brothers with goretzka, Sule, Kimmich, Draxler and ter stegan still have long way to go and could easily bounch back in four years time.

          1. I will agree on this. They have depth. It is time for a change there, they will come back soon

  34. Ok why is nobody taking about England. They appear to be calm and composed . Nobody is talking about them or neither are talk of the town. On a day if Harry kane is on song, he could tear apart any team. He is in form this time around and plus their 3-4-3 formation looks to have found the stability and rythm.they also have a good bench.lets see how they do vs belgium.

    1. Let’s see which bracket they end up in. Belgium is chickening out today IMO… Nobody wants the first place that takes you to the same bracket with Portugal, France, Brazil… It is very lopsided. Especially with England if they stay 1st. Check it out.

      The other bracket is ripe for a super surprise semi….

  35. Germany’s failure was the midfield: Ozil, Khedira and Kroos were out of it.

    Also, Kimmich. The guy cannot overcome in 1-1, and cannot cross.

    TBH, most german players could not overcome their opponent 1-1.

    1. Kimmich is Dutchhateboer..He cannt cross ,he cannot dribblle,Crosses are atrocious…
      Kroos still has it…Ozil and Khedira are steamed out..time for fresh blood…

    2. I thought their midfield was ok in the Korean game, they create many chances and dominate possession. Their forward could not bury any of these chances. Their two goals in this tournament are one goal from the knee of Reus and one goal from free kick. This shows how bad their forward are. It is a mystery why Low drop Sane considering their attack quality.

    3. I think Germany failed mainly because of Joachim Low’s inability to adjust his tactics. The all out attack is a very risky strategy. When you combine that with midfielders who don’t tackle well or track back, it was a recipe for disaster.

      Whenever the Germans lost possession, the opposition goes on a fast counter-attack with only the German central defenders to beat. The rest of the team has to run back full speed to defend. It drains a lot of your stamina if you have to run like that every 5 or so minutes.

      Leaving Sane out was also proven to be a mistake. He would have absolutely helped them out.

      Kimmich got too many touches and most of his passes were useless. They kept going to him again and again. Even Boateng was trying to play right winger at times because he just wasn’t effective.

      The Germans will definitely be back. I think Joachim Low will hang on and will want to prove himself again and atone for this disaster. They still have a great core of upcoming young players. Low will learn to have a plan B in case his favorite all out attack fails to work.

  36. from the Guardian. I am not sure I can post a link but if you google Guardian Granqvist you will get the article

    my title? it is not the size of the dog in the fight, it is the size of the fight in the dog ( and this is a big f dog too LOL)

    Andreas Granqvist: Wigan flop who replaced Zlatan as Sweden’s leader

    The 33-year-old was outstanding as Sweden reached the World Cup, a far cry from his days at the DW Stadium, where Paul Jewell used to shout at him

    It was quite a night, 13 November 2017, in Milan. Granqvist has come a long way since his career started at Påarps, including a difficult loan spell at Wigan – where he remembers slipping during one game and Paul Jewell shouting in his face in front of all his team-mates after the game – and spells in Italy and Russia.

    At 33, he is arguably better than ever and as captain of Sweden, is respected by everyone. The team’s last captain, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, was cocky, extrovert and extravagant. Granqvist, in many ways, is his antithesis and it is fair to say that the new leader has helped the Swedish public fall in love with the national team again.

    After that 0-0 draw against Italy at San Siro, which confirmed Sweden’s place at the World Cup, Granqvist could not hold back the tears. The pressure had been enormous but the Swedes held firm. Whatever Italy did, Granqvist and his central defensive partner Victor Lindelöf, got in the way.

    “This was the last chance for a lot of us older guys in the squad to play in a World Cup, the biggest thing you can achieve as a footballer,” he said afterwards. “So there were a lot of emotions out there. It is not only the fact that we have got to the World Cup but we have done it by beating one of the biggest football nations in the world.

    t has been an unexpected turn of events for Granqvist, who was almost a joke for many years in the national team. He grew up in Påarp, a tiny community outside Helsingborg in the south of Sweden, and came through Helsingborgs’s youth ranks. He was seen as a great talent and made his top-flight debut as a teenager.

    He joined Wigan on loan as a 21-year-old and even though they bought him in 2008 he never settled. He returned to Helsingborgs on loan before joining Groningen and Genoa. He nearly signed for QPR but instead chose Krasnodar in Russia, where he has become captain.

    During qualifying for the 2014 World Cup he was dropped.

    World Cup 2018: complete guide to all 736 players
    Read more
    At that point he decided to concentrate solely on what he was good at and a little less on what others told him to do. He has not looked back since. When Sweden reached Euro 2016 in France, Granqvist was a mainstay and after their limp exit in France, Hamrén told his successor, Janne Andersson, that the defender should be the next captain.

    Hamrén was right and the 33-year-old responded by taking Sweden to Russia. After the World Cup he will return to help Helsingborgs, who have fallen on hard times and are are trying to get out of the second tier afterrelegation in 2016.

    Krasnodar’s owner, Sergey Galitsky, was desperate for the Swede to stay and offered him £7m for two seasons but Granqvist had made up his mind. He will represent Sweden in the World Cup and then he will help one of his first clubs. When Granqvist makes up his mind, nothing can make him change – as a few forwards have found out down the years.

  37. This is certainly a World Cup of firsts.

    Japan advancing over Senegal due to having fewer yellow cards!

    Senegal started brightly against Poland and just got worse each game, and their skill just deserted them.

    Crazy tie-breaker, but it’s really their own fault for putting themselves in that position.

  38. Joachim Low has done what exactly Bert van marwik did in 2012….He got punished….with Swedish mistery luck…i dont be surprised if they win WC like greece did in 2004EC…they are organized team with great GK and tooo much luck….

  39. Even though I picked Germany as a potential winner I’m not sad at all of their departure from the tournament, they really were disappointing and deserve to be out!
    As mentioned by Demi, I think England dodged a bullet by losing today, Belgium are now in a stacked side of the draw so let’s see how good they really are. Sweden just piss me off, they will win there next game against Switzerland and who knows from there playing a very conservative (dull) style of play.
    Don’t rite off Argentina just yet, they have spluttered their way into the rd of 16 but whilst ever they have a player who can score a goal like the one we saw 2 days ago (absolute freakish goal based on the technique required to be able to do what Messi did at full pace with a player on you in a World Cup) then they have a chance to go further. Sometimes it’s just a momentum thing that cannot be stopped, let’s see what happens.
    I’m still backing Brazil from here, they have not scored many goals but they do play nice football and create a lot of scoring chances so I think they will go all the way.

    Did I mention that Germany is out!


  40. Boy O boy.Van Ginkel suffers another knee injury and will have to go under the knife again meaning months out. Cocu wanted to bring him to Fenerbahce but looks like his chapter might jus end at PSV. Strootman, Van Ginkel and I hope karsdorp doesnt join them on the list.

    On midfield note, Juliano Bacuna has also joined huddlesfield town from groingen.could be a gamble if they dont survive in the top flight but hopefully it doesnt come to that and it works out both for him and the team. Kongolo has signed permantely for them after spending on loan last season.

    Jus another question. What you guys think of Jorrit Hendrix. Can this guy do it. He has what it takes to be a complete midfielder but the only thing he lacks is playing in better league where his ceiling can be either broaden or exposed being limited. He also looks like to be stalling at PSV and another season without CL will be detrimental for his career. Fiorentina is rumored to be monitoring him.

  41. I was also looking at the swedish team and they are pretty much the same team from the qualifers and it will only take individual brillance to break them down. Robben, kroos or any other team for that matter who have players with individual brillance. France and Brazil.

    1. The Belgium side of the bracket is tough. If they can get past Brazil, then it might happen.

      Croatia can get past Spain or England. I wouldn’t say they are a favorite against Spain but the way Spain defends makes me feel like they have a chance.

      Spain is playing like the Germans. A high risk defensive live all the way at the center of the field. Croatia has the midfield and strikers to make them pay unlike Portugal, Morocco and Iran.

  42. Without Germany, Argentine, Portugal and Spain in this worldcup anymore we should win this WORLDCUP!

    especially we already taken care Brazil 2 times (2010 and 2014).

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