Dear friends, I am writing this a full 48 hours after the game. The reason, work had me traveling and I wasn’t able – in amongst my meetings – to sit and write a deserving post. I was happy I was able to watch the full game and read your comments here…
So, with that time in between I was able to give it all some good thought, and reflect on the game.
Which I will summarize as: 89 minutes of cagey play by two 5-3-2 playing teams giving nothing away until Robben in the 90st minute has a chance to score, takes one touch too much and gets thwarted. Extra time. Penalties. Bad luck (bad penalties). Loss.
This post needs to start with a big thumbs up and a big thank you and shout out for the boys! What they have done this tournament, what they have achieved and brought us is sensational. It’s actually on par for me with 1978. It’s a better performance almost than 2010, if you compare it. Breathtaking, really. What a rollercoaster ride.
And therefor, we also need to congratulate the staff and Louis van Gaal in particular.
He has achieved what no one expected him to do. Apart from us, probably :-). I do know that I have been critical on LVG and his antics, but he did really really well. Who knows, we might start to actually like him, 3 years before he retires, hahahahaha.
He wasn’t perfect though, he made some mistakes. Just like Sneijder, Blind, Van Persie and Cillesen weren’t perfect. But man, did I love this team and what they achieved.
We will celebrate the performance of the team in the days/weeks to come and I am sure the Dutch fans will give the lads a real heroes welcome once they return home. As number 3 or number 4, who cares…
In the words of Louis: “I wish they cancelled this consolation finals. What a bad idea. Who cares about that. You don’t want to lose twice in a row after having played such an amazing tournament. We should be going home now.”
And I agree: Third or Fourth. Who gives a samba? Poor Brazil was humiliated by Germany. What will they do? How will they cope? Will they be on the top of their game? Or foaming at the mouth of aggression and adrenaline? Or will they be stressed out to the max? Will be beat them too? Then what will happen over there? Will Louis allow the veterans their last WC game? Will he rest the top guns to allow them their much deserved break?
All these questions.
However, now…. with the game in less than 24 hours, Van Gaal has changed his tune: “I want to write football history for the Dutch. Never ever before did we finish a World Cup campaign without losing a match. In 1974, 78, 98 and 2010 we lost at least one game. This tournament, I want Oranje to be able to say: we went to the World Cup, played 7 big games and didn’t lose on single game in normal open play.”
I will watch the game and I will cheer for Holland but if Brazil beats us 5-0 I wouldn’t care. It’s a stupid thing. I do hope Louis will allow some of the benchwarmers to play. I think it’s time for Vorm, for Veltman, for Kongolo and Clasie for instance.
I will get back to the Argentina game for a bit here, still.
Brilliant defending header by Janmaat
I read Willem van Hanegem’s column before the game. And I was hoping to have time to put it here. Because I fully agreed with Willem. He basically said:
“Now we have reached the semis, we have formally reached our objective. We have also shown the world how good we can be. But we have not yet played our beloved Dutch style football, bar some periods in games where we had to. Lets take this game against Argentina and do it. Forget about 5-3-2. If you play that against Argentina who do the same, it’s almost as if you’re asking for penalties. Lets take the game to them. If we get past them, we’ll have a chance against Germany to put some pressure on them too. If we do not win against Argentina, we will at least leave the tournament with a good last hurrah! Dutch lose playing attacking football! Better than hearing “Dutch sneak into finals with negative play” again…. So play Clasie from the start. Make sure we have quick feet and quick passing. Put three forwards on and put pressure on their back five. Because there is nothing that can take the pride I feel for Oranje away anymore. You guys cannot lose anymore.”
Heartfelt message from De Kromme.
But Louis didn’t believe. For the first time in his life, Louis lost his bravado and wanted to squeeze out a win with another 5-3-2 “all balls on Robben” tactics. This is the drama for me, of this Tournament.
When I talked about Vlaar’s penalty yesterday ( a fluke as I have now seen footage from another angle, Vlaar touched the ball), I was in need of some drama. Losing games is ok, as long as there is drama attached to it.
1974 – The Swimming Pool Incident; Holland having 24 opportunities to score, German Dive got them penalty
1978 – Rensenbrink hits the post in dying seconds
1982 – Van Breukelen – Krol – Platini – nuff said
1984 – Spain – Malta 12-1
1986 – Grun scored in the last 5 minutes to launch Belgium to the Mexico WC
1990 – Beenhakker, Michels, Cruyff, Gullit
1992 – Van Basten misses penalty
1994 – Brazilian offside goals, winner scored from free-kick which was supposed to be an Oranje ball
1996 – Davids/Hiddink
1998 – Van Hooijdonk fouled in the box; no penalty but yellow for Pi-Air
2000 – Holland – Italy semi finals, Holland miss 12 penalties
2002 – Louis van Gaal
2004 – Robben substitution Advocaat
2006 – Battle of Nueremburg
2008 – Personal Tragedy Boulahrouz
2010 – Casillas’ toe
2012 – Zero points, Van Persie missing 34 chances to score
2014 – …….
I was hoping it was “Penalty goal Vlaar overseen by ref” but it most likely should be “Van Gaal sticks to defensive tactics too long”.
But of course, always easy to criticise in hindsight. In Dutch we say, “Hindsight is like looking a cow up her arse”… I do not know who made THAT up (not Cruyff!!) and why he / she made it up…. But if there is one thing I wish LVG hadn’t done, it was playing 5-3-2 against the masters of 5-3-2.
Also…. with what I saw of RVP and heard about him having stomach and bowel issues… I think LVG should have left Van Persie on the bench and only use him as a supersub (for instance, to score a penalty).
The signs were ignored. Van Persie’s body gave clear signs of exhaustion. The misses against Costa Rica. The stomach pain… Clearly an immune system response, saying “I am done”.
In hindsight, we should have gone Kuyt – Vlaar – De Vrij – Janmaat. Midfield: Sneijder – De Jong – Wijnaldum. And up front: Depay – Lens – Robben.
With Depay dropping back and Lens as deep striker.
During the game, we could bring Clasie for De Jong, as LVG did.
And bring Huntelaar AND Van Persie when / if the game needed it.
Btw, I just saw that a rumour has been going around saying that Sneijder, Kuyt and Robben asked Van Gaal to use Huntelaar instead of skipper Van Persie as Robin didn’t look too fresh. Van Gaal and Kuyt at the press conference said that was bullshite. Kuyt: “I have played on 5 major tournaments and never ever have seen so much team spirit and cohesion in the squad a snow. And Robin is our captain. There is no foundation to all of this.”
But….. Easy to say for the steering people standing on the shore. Another Dutch expression for you :-).
All of this is not to say, that I am proud, extremely proud of our team.
If I already can give you a headsup of my upcoming rating for the Squad, I think Vlaar was sensational, I think De Vrij was great, Wijnaldum played a bland first half but ended the game on a high. Clasie had a good turn as a sub, and Janmaat was at his usual high level. Sneijder was not too shabby either, but Robben and Robin, the special ones, were not special enough for us against Argentina…
What actually is a fun statistic: Wesley Sneijder is the player who ran the most kilometers on this World Cup. Of all players. If you would have said this to Louis van Gaal last year, he would have done this:
Robben is short listed for the title Man of the Tournament and if he does well against Brazil and Muller / Messi do not well in the finals, who knows. Memphis Depay is mentioned as the Talent of the Tournament title. Maybe LVG will get coach of the World Cup, who knows…
Anyway, enough musings. We’ll have some Samba time tomorrow.
Lets finish with some fun. This is how the English viewed Holland-Argentia: