A new post! But I still wanna make you aware of 1) my donation request as it is that time again (hosting cost, upgrades, domain name etc) and 2) enter your results in the Fantasy Competition! BRILLIANT trophies to be won :-).
Well here we are! Louis van Gaal was probably ecstatic. Some 12 years after failing to reach the highest in world football, competing at a World Cup, he finally made it. All geared up to show the world Louis is also the greatest of the world with the national team!
The team had a pleasant flight to Brazil and enjoyed their first days in Rio getting accustomed to the time zone and the climate. The touch down was early in Rio and Louis kept his players awake to make sure they would settle in quickly. The spent some time in the hotel and then went for a long beach walk. “I noticed a change. Coming into Rio, the airport, the buzz, the language, the smells…the players were immediately affected by it. More focused. The talk became different, when we did the beach walk. Everyone realised they were actually in Brazil. To play for the World Cup,” as Louis van Gaal put it.
The players live in the Caesar Park Ipanema Hotel and it was a true spectacle when the players arrived there.
The arrival of Oranje in Brazil does mean something. The first steps of the Dutch in Brazil are broadcast live on tv. A diversity of tv programs had anchor women out at the hotel and the training grounds to pick up some footage of the Dutch. Earlier on Bosnia and Chile arrived but those events were almost ignored. There were police and media choppers and the many people needed to be fenced off from the hotel grounds. They went to the Flamengo training grounds at 3.15 pm and had a short but fun session, to allow the muscles and joints to get into gear.
Playing some foot-volley and having fun with the Flamengo youth teams, present as ball boys. Sneijder, Wijnaldum and Van Persie stayed on the pitch to teach the lads some tricks and without a doubt vice versa. Van Gaal had to order the players in and Van Persie held up a big thumb to the lads when he made his way back. Arjen Robben didn’t train with the group. Van Gaal had one player too many for the game and offered one volunteer the option to bail out. Robben was quickest to raise his hand (I wouldn’t think Kongolo or Clasie would do this, hahahaha).
Wesley Sneijder is turning back into the 2010 Wesley Sneijder we all loved (and some hated). Cocky, arrogant, condescending and oozing with brilliance. His presence in Brazil was not an automatic one, under this team manager. It took a clash with Van Gaal and hard work. But he made it. “I was to blame, but I also fixed it. I planted a big flag for myself, on this mountain far away. And said “that is where I am going!”. And my flag is now close. And you know what, you all (media)…you also thought I was over the hill. I thank you for that. It helped strengthen my resolve.”
Classic Wes. Like Asterix, whenever he gets angry, special powers sink in as if he drank the magic potion and he is ready to take on the Romans. IT took a while for Sneijder to realise what Van Gaal meant. At first, he was angry. And hurt. The coach called him unprofessional?? Him??? The man of the 2010 World Cup? CL winner? But Sneijder realised he indeed had to change his tune. “I knew I wasn’t 100% fit. I hadn’t played for Inter for a while and at Gala I forced myself too much to get back into it. It took hard work to make all the improvements in my fitness and form. I am very close to being 100%.”
The biggest hurdle now is to adapt to the 5-3-2 system, which works very well for Sneijder. Bar for one thing: his timing. “The coach thinks I put pressure on the defence too early and as a result I end up playing next to Robin and Arjen. That is not good. I need to stick to playing closer to midfield. He is right. I need to adjust that.”
Jon De Guzman is the only player not 100% fit at the moment. He is working hard on getting back and according to his thumb up to the media, he is doing well.
Jordy Clasie is with the group, while Van Persie is allowed to take some breaks. The groin situation is not an injury, in Van Gaal’s words, but it probably does hurt. “But, players all play with little knocks and aches. Robin will have to wear it.”
Clasie played with the team without the orange skins and presumable is now the man to fill in for De Guzman. The latter is doing his separate physiotherapy exercises.
Thousands of people joined in when Oranje gathered for practice and the first time Van Gaal used his booming voice to reprimand Sneijder it almost felt staged. The Oranje no. 10 made a mistake in midfield and Louis stopped play, ran onto the pitch and gave Wesley an ear full who accepted it with his head down.
Back in Holland, the nation is prepping for another World Cup. Streets turn orange, companies put out their orange products and the media are creating their World Cup oriented programs, shows and items.
Patrick van Aanholt won’t be seeing all that. The Chelsea full back – out on loan at Vitesse recently – is on a plane to South America. Mexico. Not Brazil. The left back thought he did really well (in the Ecuador match and at training) but was told by Van Gaal he was just not good enough. “Mr Van Gaal told me that he felt I was the best attacking option for the left back position, but also the least defensive option. I do have a tendency to not give priority to my man and he felt I wasn’t paying attention enough. Something for me to work on. It was quite a blow. To be honest, I felt I was part of the squad. But I will have to shrug and learn and go on. Next season, Feyenoord might be my team. There is interest and Feyenoord is an amazing club. But I still have one year of Chelsea on my contract so when I get back from Mexico I’ll report back to London.”