Tag: Brazil

Meet Tarcisio – your new Blog Czar

You know that when a Brazilian guy prefers the Dutch Oranje over the Seleção Canarinho, you have a really cool and special dude in your tribe!

I have been speaking with him for months and it was clear to me he was and is the ideal guy to take over from me.

I mean: you try and find a Brazilian guy who would admit Cruyff was better than Pele, right?

Here is a first interview with our new playmaker.

So, Tarcisio, welcome! Tell us a bit about yourself?

Tarcisio: “I was born and live in Recife, the capital of Pernambuco, a state located in the northeast of Brazil and which has a very particular history with the Netherlands. Between the years 1630 to 1654, our state was colonized by the Dutch and Maurício de Nassau was the governor of our state during that period. He brought many improvements to our state, but “unfortunately”, the people managed to expel the Dutch from here. And I say that it is unfortunately, because when the Dutch left Pernambuco, they went to the United States and colonized New York. I believe that having the Dutch here would be better than the Portuguese who came to steal our riches and did not think about developing our region, as Maurício de Nassau did while he was here. In Recife, I live with my sister and mother. I’m 27 years old and since I was 16 I’ve been following Dutch football and I started to fall in love with it. Initially, I liked the country. I liked the things I read about the Netherlands, the culture, the history and that’s when I got deeper into football. I love Holland, I really do and don’t ask me why, things just happened and the next thing I know, I was completely in love with the country. But I’ve never been to Holland. My life goal is to live in Holland.”

This is Tarcisio’s Oranje Office, where the blogging-magic will be happening

Did you play football yourself?

When I was younger, I played football for Sport Recife, one of the big clubs in my region. Today, I don’t like to play, I just like to watch.”

But you probably do adore Pele? Like we do Cruyff?

For many, Pelé was the best and greatest player in the history of football, but for me, nobody has ever surpassed Johan Cruijff. What he did and what he left for football was much greater than any other athlete. Alongside Rinus Michels and many other legends, he revolutionized football. To this day, we see his legacy being upheld by Josep Guardiola. Pelé was a great player, but he didn’t leave the legacy for the sport that Johan Cruijff did. And I’m scared how the Dutch don’t appreciate Johan Cruijff. He was simply a genius and greater than anyone else.”

Do you follow the Oranje only, or also the Dutch clubs?

I follow all Eredivisie and Keuken Kampioen Divisie matches. Every weekend I watch Dutch league games. I just don’t watch amateur division games, because they aren’t broadcast here in Brazil. I don’t speak Dutch, it’s one of the languages I want to learn.”

Which tournament stands out for you, re: the Dutch National Team?

In my opinion, the 1974 World Cup was the Dutch team that impressed me the most. I didn’t have the opportunity to watch it, but from everything I’ve read and watched on videos, it was supernatural. But if you only analyze the competitions you watch, the 2014 World Cup was the coolest. We didn’t win the title, but we arrived discredited and reached the semifinal.”

This is where he lives and where we will all gather once we win the World Cup!

Do you support a particular Dutch club?

I support Ajax, but whenever a Dutch team is on the field against any club from another country, I will support the Dutch club, because I want to see our football prosper. It’s not good that only Ajax can play the Champions League frequently. I want to see PSV and Feyenoord playing in these tournaments and showing the strength everyone has, just like the main teams in Portugal can do.”

Any favorite players?

My list of favorite players starts with Johan Cruijff (it couldn’t be different), Ruud Krol, Wim Suurbier, Wim van Hanegem, Johan Neeskens, Rob Rensenbrink, Piet Keizer and Johnny Rep. Players like Wesley Sneijder, Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben are also on that list.”

How did you find out about the Dutchsoccersite?

I found the site through Google. I was looking for Dutch football stories and reviews and Google introduced me to DutchSoccer. When I started reading, I fell in love with the content and tried to get in touch with you, to praise the high quality of the reviews. You were very humble and always open to help, and that made me even happier. I met a Dutchman who told me that people in Holland are not that friendly, but so far, the Dutch people I’ve met, I have nothing to complain about.”

Do you have any particular plans with the blog?

I won’t be able to bring the quality and special touch that you’ve built over all these years to the site, but my idea would be to bring the daily updated news about Dutch football, from the top clubs to the clubs in the second division. . I want everyone to be able to get to know and follow the Dutch club by heart.”

And somewhere down there is a pub where we will get drunk on the success of our World Cup win!

How do you see the future of Dutch football?

My perspective on Dutch football is that we can see clubs growing more and more. I hope that the directors understand once and for all that it is necessary to assemble competitive teams and compete strongly in European competitions, after all, they are what will bring money to our football. One thing I’ve learned over the years following football in the Netherlands is that the Dutch really see football as fun, unlike here in Brazil, for example. I think that’s the big difference and that’s why we can’t see Dutch football grow more than it can.”

Guys, it’s official now. The blog is in his able hands.

Say hello below and maybe also introduce yourselves? Say something about your age, where you live, how you came to become a fan of Oranje, and anything else you like to share.

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How to stop Messi: Ron Vlaar

People still stop Ron Vlaar at the super market to ask him about his match, 8 years ago, versus Argentina and Messi. This will only become more the case in the coming days. Not many defenders can say that they silenced the little maestro. And that was all at the biggest platform: the World Cup. The AZ youth coach explains how.

So how do you prep for a match up with Messi?

“You don’t. You should prepare for a game versus Argentina. And that was then and it’s the same now. You do need to take into account his particular skill set and quality, but you need to anticipate as a team, on them as a team. But a team with Messi. I just told myself, that whenever Messi would be in my neck of the woods, I had to stop him.”

So it was a team task?

“Yes of course. No one was sacrificed to play or mark him. It’s important that you constantly watch him and check his movements, in particular when we have the ball. Those are the moments he is waiting for. He’ll drift, he’ll wander, he will go to the spaces inbetween, mostly strolling almost. You saw it versus Australia as well. And his team mates will know where he is, and when they get possession back, like a snake they’ll find him fast. Half a ball is enough for him to punish you really. So that is where we need to be sharp. And I think we did well, in 2014.”

So how important was blocking the pass lines to Messi?

“They play the exact same way now as they played in 2014. Find Messi and give him the ball. It was very visible this way versus the Aussies this time around. They were sloppy in the first half, so they didn’t really find him, but in the second half they did, and Messi was immediately threatening.”

How do you look back at those personal duels?

“People still ask me about this. And I think there are some cool photos from that match. I personally don’t remember the match as me versus him. I fought duels with a lot of players in that game but these duels are less important to the fans I guess. For me, the whole performance was important, the team performance. At the end of the day, you need to do your job as a defender, no matter who the opponent.”

But Messi’s feet are a tad quicker than the average other player..

“That is true which is why you need to be ready for him before he gets the ball. If you can anticipate his runs, you have a chance. If you react to him, you’re usually too late already. You have to scan constantly. You need to take into account what is happening and what can happen. Because if you allow him to turn and then run at you, you’re toast. He has speed, ball skills, he can go left, right. The key things are anticipating and reading the situation. The good thing is, Frenkie and De Roon have the tendency to constantly look around them, all the time. They should be ready for him.”

And the forward press is key too?

“Super important, because Messi loves to drop deep to find space and make his runs. You need to be compact. And you need to pressure him from two angles. Close in on him. Ake and Timber are very good in the press and that will be a major asset. I played in the Virgil role back then and my role is the same as Virgil’s: to be there when he slips through the cracks.”

And than there is the role of the holding mid.

“Yes, that was something Nigel de Jong did for us in that semi final and he had to leave the pitch for an hour or so. He had to be subbed and Jordy Clasie did his job as a sub, which he did ever so well. That was such an important performance, as Clasie hadn’t played a single minute. In this Oranje, I think De Roon will be key, for when Frenkie is on his bike. Don’t forget, Dumfries is also usually gone.”

Which Argentina is better you think, the 2014 team or the current team?

“I think the Brazil one was bnetter. They had a younger Messi, a younger Di Maria, Higuain, Aguero, Mascherano, really top players. And more individual qualities. But, just like then, this Argentina does play as a team.”

Are you confident for the game?

“Yes, I think Holland is actually better. We don’t play flash, but we play very business like. To win. I loke that. And if the play with the ball is not good, they still perform their tasks without the ball. This team is hard to beat. And we have players who can make a difference. I too enjoy good football, but winning is more important to me. I don’t care how. It’s not about how good you are, but are you good enough to win. And this Oranje is good enough to win.”

While we’re talking, I can see Messi make his way up to the training pitch at Doha!

“Haha, cool! Tell him I said hi!”


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Oranje 3rd of the World after 3-0 Brazil win!

What an amazing end to an amazing campaign!

The Dutch National Team has knicked the 3rd spot of the 2014 World Cup, against all odds, in the process beating World Champions Spain and hosts Brazil! And brushing aside Mexico and Chile and beating minions Australia and Costa Rica. Without suffering defeat in open play.

What an achievement!

cill toilet

I think it is quite something…. In 1974 we finished second after a disappointing loss in the finals but also after teaching the world to play. In 1978 we got unlucky and we might even got screwed as Argentina might have paid their way to the finals back then… In 1998 we could have gone all the way but lost the consolation finals versus Croatia and in 2010 that frickin’ toe stopped us from winning.

In ’74 and ’78, expectations were low. In 1998 and 2010 we knew we had a chance. Now, in 2014, most experts felt we would be extremely lucky and successful if we made it out of the group!

A bunch of oldies (but goldies) and a bunch of youngster, led by an intense and highly strung coach.

And we were a split second decision by Robben away from a place in the finals…

That moment in the last minute of the Argentina game…. let’s not go there.

So, Holland vs Brazil. A classic poster! Played 11 times against each other. Holland winning 3, Brazil winning 3. The rest you can guess.

robben robin

Last time we lost, was with quite some drama (1994, 1998). Last time we won, we cruised to the WC finals in 2010.

The Canary Yellow agains the Orange.

There are many cool stories and angles to pick when talking about this match, but in this case it was all about: will Brazil be able to win the fans’ hearts back after the abysmal loss against Germany, 1-7?

Some said “expect a totally fueled up and foamin’ at the mouth Brazil”, while other said “Brazil is simply overrated and will be needing diapers when they come up on the pitch vs Holland”.

I think the truth was in the middle. But I also believe this is one of the worst Brazilian teams ever. The 1974 one was quite shabby, and this one, sans Neymar, is not much better.

sneijder brazil

Sneijder: “I was really annoyed I couldn’t play. I first was bummed out we missed the finals, and then my hamstring gave way during the warming up.”

Fred? Jo? Hulk? Seriously?? Willian and Oscar are very decent players and as a simple defender, Thiago Silva is pretty good too. But once David Luiz thinks he is Beckenbauer and Paulinho thinks he is Socrates you know you are in trouble.

Against Germany, the defence was absent. Against Holland, they weren’t much better.

In the first minute, Maxwell and Maicon and Luiz were a bit too lacklustre when Silva had to check a run by Robben after Van Persie launched the former Groningen man into space. Robben one v one the goalie is not a good idea in the first minute so Silva did what he thought was the best solution: pull him back outside of the box and pray he’d get away with it. Well, he did. He was allowed to stay on the pitch, but the ref did point at the spot.

robben penalty

With only 2 mins on the clock, captain Van Persie took the opportunity to do what Vlaar failed to do in his place versus Argentina (or did he…..). The Brazilian fans – to their shock – saw their team behind once more and when Oranje pounced again in the 17th minute via a beaut by Blind, the fans surely felt it was one of those days again!! Would their team again get trashed? The horror was visible on the faces of the onlookers.

RVP Brazil 1-0

And I have to say, being biased and all…. Holland was on top of the Canaries all the time. Sure, they had their chances and their spells… As they are surely no slouches going forward but in terms of team cohesion and discipline and tactics they played 1970 style football against a team that took a page from the Barcelona Dutch book of gameplay and the Atletico Madrid book of gameplay.

Holland had to deal with a setback when Sneijder grabbed his hamstring in the warm up and Jon De Guzman was told to prepare for the match, which saw us play with Robben an Robin upfront, De Guzman, Clasie and Wijnaldum in midfield and a five man back line with Blind and Kuyt out wide and De Vrij, Vlaar and Martins Indi as the three central defenders.

daley brazil


Blind hardly scores. And now he gets on in the consolation finals vs Brazil

That central block played tremendously well. De Vrij and Vlaar grew into the Men of the Match while Martins Indi, Wijnaldum, Clasie, Kuyt and Blind fought for what they were worth, with Blind regularly offering the team an outlet on the left and Clasie and Wijnaldum being crucial in midfield dominance, against players who play for European top teams ( Bayern, Spurs, Chelsea, Man City).

Sure, Brazil had some opportunities to get back into the game but for me it seemed more likely that we would get a third, as opposed to Brazil getting back into it.

Unlucky Daley Blind had to be subbed in the second half, which brought attacking full back Janmaat to the mix and Holland was the most likely to score the next goal. It seems like Brazil wanted it to end while Janmaat and Robben in particular seemed keen to get their names on the score sheet as well. Wijnaldum was also playing more adventurous, and even clashed with Robben at a certain point in the Brazilian box trying to dish out the final goal. And it would end up being the former Feyenoord man Wijnaldum who’d get his goal, finally, with Janmaat again delivering the assist (like with Gini’s buddy Leroy Fer vs Chile).


By then, Joel Veltman was given his final minutes to replace a cramped up Jordy Clasie while Van Gaal allowed Michel Vorm, the only one without minutes, his claim to fame. The Swansea man was allowed the last 5 minutes and had two goal kicks to his name when finally the ref put Brazil out of its misery.

Van Gaal’s mission has been accomplished. He reached the semi finals with Oranje and was able to do so without having suffered a defeat and using all 23 players. The Dutch have scored prolifically and with the most different goal scorers while we only conceded two goals from open play (Australia and Mexico, both crackers of goals).

I actually believe that we would have beaten Germany in the finals but hey…. I’ll take this.

The best thing for me, is the vindication of the Eredivisie. Many people, national and international (and here too) believed the Eredivisie is a crap competition.

dutch youngsters


Some Eredivisie quality (and Villan Roncrete Vlaar)

I think the facts speak for themselves: the player development and talent development in Holland is still top notch, if not better than ever. We now clearly also develop defenders! With a good coaching staff and a clear football vision, these lads can get somewhere.

Where Dutch clubs get unstuck internationally is the sheer fact that clubs in France, Portugal, Spain, Italy, England, Germany have more money to spend. So they can assemble more good players. That is why Dutch clubs suffer outside of the Eredivisie. But in terms of development, we clearly hold our own!

LVG Robben Brazil

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WHAT a great season it was….Ajax, Feyenoord, PSV, Oranje…..

Dear friends, Johan Cruyff again agrees with me. It is becoming a bit predictable and boring, I know… But this 2013-2014 season is a very positive season for us. I will tell you why right now: because it can only get better!!

We have had many “Champions of the Poor” before (the name given to the team that plays the least bad football and wins the title) but this season I think is the worst.

Vitesse, Twente, PSV and in particular Feyenoord decided not to want the title this year. And poor Frank de Boer and his Eriksen-less team of bland players found themselves the best of the lowly….

I do congratulate Ajax of course and Frank de Boer. He is a top class bloke and an excellent coach. I cannot see him not coach Oranje one day.

Ajax was not the best this season, but they surely were the most consistent.

PSV played very sexy football this season, but only at the start of the season and way too brief….

Feyenoord should won it this season but too many late goals conceded resulted in a losing too many points…. Feyenoord lost one-third of the points it could win…. And with that stat, they became second AND may dream of CL football next season. Ouch. Feyenoord will probably end with 4 points difference with Ajax. And Feyenoord lost the two games against Ajax. If those were drawn, Ajax and Feyenoord would have finished even… Goes to show what a close call it was and how Feyenoord should have won it this season. If there ever was a season with a solid chance, it was now.

ajax kampioen

Vitesse played the most Dutch in particular in the first half of the season. Very good football, lots of possession and many good results. The second season half, however, something happened in Arnhem and they spilled way too many points.

Twente was the other candidate and with a real killer upfront they might have done better. Gutierrez in particular was a highly consistent factor and this player might win the Best Player of the Season Award just before Jordy Clasie and ex-Feyenoord playmaker Mokotjo (PEC Zwolle).

The good thing about our competition that whenever clubs sell players, young Dutch developed lads make their way into the team. Ajax and Feyenoord have been vanguards of this in Dutch football but Heerenveen, AZ and other clubs are following suit. This is why we can now see exciting lads like Vilhena. Boetius, Klaassen, Veltman, Rekik, Depay and Sinkgrave play regularly. And they do make mistakes. But they have to. As long as they learn from it…

Cruyff says the football IQ needs to be raised. And he has a point. Skill itself is not enough. Knowing when to use what skills is key. Decision making. When to play the deep pass, when to pace it down, when to apply pressure, when to back off. When to play the direct ball, when to dribble…

Ajax was not the best, but the most consistent team. Phillip Cocu is still in development, as is his team. Peter Bosz at Vitesse would like some peace and quiet and less weird comments ( “Vitesse is not allowed to win the title in Holland” ) and Twente might get a slap on the financial wrist by the Dutch Federation.

As for next season, we see some changes happening… Frank de Boer claims he wants to stay and I do believe him, but if Barcelona comes calling he will probably go. Ronald Koeman, however, is being named as a strong candidate by a Spanish paper. He is leaving Feyenoord and making way for Fred Rutten. Koeman was applauded and cheered during Feyenoord’s last home game this weekend. He was told he would leave the club on the shoulders of many and via the front door. He will always be welcome. Koeman admitted to regret to have to leave Feyenoord. “I have played for all three top clubs in Holland and I coached them all. I have sympathy for all of them but Feyenoord is special. My whole family feels very at home here. And in particular the home games have given me goosebumps. Feyenoord will always be special to me.”

A nice touch after the debacle exits of Mario Been and Gertjan Verbeek (who got fired this week in the Bundesliga).

Marco van Basten remains in Holland, moving to AZ Alkmaar while AZ CEO Toon Gerbrands is moving to PSV to assume the General Manager role there. Jan Wouters will leave FC Utrecht as the head coach but has already suggested he would consider an assistant role under another head coach. Jan has always felt more at ease in that role (Rangers, FC Utrecht).


The best we keep for last.

Louis van Gaal. He has said no to Spurs (probably wasn’t going to gel with Levy) and Wenger himself stated he would stay at Arsenal so a move to London was also irrelevant from that angle. Man United however, is in need of a strong coach who would be able to build up the club again. Give new input to the scouting, the analysis, youth development… in other words…renovate Manchester United.

LVG’s signing also means RVP will most likely stay in Manchester. One of the conditions the ManU owners have, is that the 1992 generation (Scholes, Giggs) are being utilised. Van Gaal has suggested he might take Pat Kluivert with him as assistant, as will Frank Hoeks and the video analysis team.

He will be paid a handsome 10 mio euros per year and can count on a 100 mio pound war chest!

I will be tuned in for all the Man U games. I wanna see how and if he can make it work (he is a good coach) but I also want to see him in the English media :-). The tabloids are quite….hectic… Actually, Sjoerd Mossou wrote a great little piece in the AD. I will use that for this post:

Dear Louis here are some tips for you, to work in the UK.

1. Don’t read the tabloids

It is bad for your heart. You will miss us, the Dutch press, as we will appear to be very friendly compared to our UK colleagues… Don’t expect an article on your tactical views or on the running patterns but expect a picture of your left full back naked in a strip club.

2. Watch our for Sir Alex

Sir Alex is angry. David Moyes was his mate and his choice. And Sir Alex was against firing Moyes. So watch it, because he will look over your shoulder. Make little noises. Will blow his nose suddenly. Or whine and mumble. And you don’t like that. Remember battling the ghost of Cruyff at Barca or your clashes with Hoeness in Munich? It’s no fun fighting club legends. You can’t win. So have a glass of red with Sir Alex quickly.

3. Yell a bit less

The English don’t appreciate yelling. You can tell them anything, they have a great sense of humour but mind your tone of voice. Be polite. Your buddy the Special One has the urge to say whatever he wants, but he hardly ever yells in interviews. He is smart like that.

4. Sell Rooney

It sounds weird because he is one of the few really good players you have, but he is not a typical Van Gaal player. He will turn 30 next year. His lifestyle will inform you that he won’t be playing like this for much longer. I don’t think there will be a personal connection between the two of you. Because Wayne is from Croxteth in Liverpool. Google the suburb. Your total Human Being Principle….words like “interpretation divergence”….. Don’t use them with Wayne. The Rooneys won’t be able to follow you.

5. Get a gauge on the Glazers…

But don’t trust them. They’re Americans. They gave Man U debt that will make you hallucinate. And they don’t know jack shit of football. Now they need you but don’t give them your loyalty. They might be selling everything in two years. And the ManU fans despise them.

6. Explain it all very quietly and patiently 4 times

RVP will be able to follow you. You already gained his trust. Robin is a football philosopher like you. But don’t make the mistake that the English players understand tactics because they don’t. It’s almost non existent. Take. It. Slow. The English don’t see football as a thinking game. They prefer to kick the ball up the park and then chase it like Braveheart, with foam  on the lips and blood on the legs. That is deeply ingrained in their genes.

Which brings us to Oranje.

I have not a lot of additional things to share…. Dirk Kuyt won the title. Jeremain Lens is not doing too well and neither is his club. The Debate re: Sneijder is still being entertained in the media. With Arjen Robben claiming his buddy and mate should definitely go to Brazil.

It’s not a big debate for me. Our suggested alternatives to Wes and Raf were Siem de Jong and Adam Maher? Wijnaldum could have played there too. Or Van Ginkel. Or Affelay. But the latter two have not played a serious game and should not be considered. Maher and Wijnaldum have not played enough to give them any position (although Wijnaldum might be able to convince LVG in the coming weeks and Siem de Jong is still injured.


So with all these lads not in the picture, of course you take Wesley Sneijder, playmaker of Galatasaray.

It might not be Real Madrid but he is still playing at a big club which played at the highest level in Europe this year.

And even if he is 80% of his 2010 version, he is still better than the 100% Maher, Van Ginkel or Fer on that position.

Rafael van der Vaart is another story. Is he fit enough? To me, form is never an issue for Raf. He can be out form at Hamburg and score a brace for Oranje. He is an artist. More so than Sneijder. So Van der Vaart could be of use, but I see him only as a second striker (in a 4-4-2 for instance). Not as a midfielder.

I do believe LVG will change his 4-3-3. Maybe not “publicly” but in the execution we will see a departure from 4-3-3. Feyenoord was successful this season with the 5-3-2 and I can see Van Gaal play this formation too.

Depending on his fitness, Krul might not make Brazil, which will probably mean Ken Vermeer will come as third goalie. But he might end up as the first one. This will allow LVG to play with a goalie as sweeper. Than he might use Kongolo as left back and Janmaat as right back to work the flanks. And with three relatively fast centre backs (De Vrij, Bruma, BMI for instance). Three man midfield with Nigel de Jong, Leroy Fer and Wesley Sneijder and up front RVP and Arjen Robben…

Or something like that :-).



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The Aftermath: champagne and mourning….

Oranje has qualified for Brazil. And there was champagne! But the bad news had to land still…. The Netherlands dropped to position 9 on the FIFA Ranking. As you know, the first 7 (+ Brazil) will have a protected position as group leader.

We tumbled from #5 to #9 as a result of our last three games. We drew against Portugal and Estonia and those results in particular did it for us. At this stage: no group leader role for Oranje.

Obviously, things can still change (a number of games to go) and one of the current top 7 might still not make it but this doesn’t look good…

But, whatever happens…if we want to do well in Brazil, we need to take on any opponent, so…we’ll need to live with this.

But the late C Ronaldo equaliser and the off day in Estonia might be an expensive lesson.

Talking about $$, the CEO of the KNVB Bert van Oostveen personally poured the bubbly for the Oranje squad in Spain, last Tuesday. ” I am very proud of the staff and the players. You always want to qualify at home, with 40,000 Oranje fans but we can live with this too. I received many texts and sms messages from colleagues and some are actually jealous of our success.”

The KNVB made 2 Mio euros profit at the last World Cup. Is this the sort of profit Van Oostveen is counting on again? “Well, it depends. Brazil is more expensive for us. The travel cost are higher. But either way, we believe we should be able to break even. If we exit in the group stages, we will actually make a bit of money. If we exit after the first knock out games, we might have a little loss, due to additional travel. But it’s not about the money.”

And in terms of sports objectives? “Well, in principle, we believe Holland needs to be able to reach the semi finals of any tournament. But that does hinge on the form and availability of certain players of course. It’s too early to make those statements now.”

Stefan de Vrij was probably the most talked about player of Oranje, this last week (although RVP deserved that position more).  The 21 year old Feyenoord defender was backed by Van Gaal and his team mates however and quipped: “It’s part of the game. I am very levelheaded. Whenever they hail me as the next big thing, I shrug my shoulders. I do the same thing now they tell me I’m shit.” Did he read all the news and the criticism? “No, the internet connection in our hotel was not great. I didn’t see it all,” he laughed. “It is all part of it playing at this level I guess.” For De Vrij, such criticism is totally new. He made his debut last year against Belgium but the measuring stick is put higher every game. De Vrij now has eight international games to his name and the nation follows his moves with scrutiny. De Vrij was subbed against Estonia, but coach Van Gaal and colleagues Van Persie and Robben almost stumbled over each other to defend the Feyenoord skipper.

stef rvp

“That felt good. I spent a lot of time talking to my team mates and Robin in particular. And I had a one on one with Mr Van Gaal. I won’t tell you the contents but it gave me confidence. I had it some time back with Feyenoord too. I guess it is normal at this level, as everything you do is now under the looking glass. Van Gaal does not have a single thread of doubt about De Vrij. Even though he did miss De Vrij’s build up play, one of his strong points, against Estonia. “We started really well against Estonia. A dream start. And building up went really well. But after the 1-1 something happened in the team. It wasn’t just me. Against Andorra, we knew it would be tough to break them down, but with a striker like RVP in the team, you know you’ll get your break through. I never doubted.”






brazil camp

And while the media are contemplating who will replace Van Gaal or why De Vrij is not good enough or which wing is Robben’s, the Oranje team has already chosen their Brazil resort for the World Cup. The Caesar Park Ipanema hotel  will be the home of Orange for three weeks at least in Brazil. One of the few 5 star hotels in Rio de Janeiro. This hotel is close to the two main airports in Rio and is situated – like the hotel during the Euro 2012 – in the busy city center. The hotel is luxurious and modern, with a spa and wellness center, a gym, several restaurants and spacious rooms. The hotel is in the Ipanema suburb, the posh and very popular area made famous in the Girl from Ipanema song. The bar where this tune from the 60s was written is only a stone’s throw away from the hotel. And Oranje supporting thinking he can join in on the fun will have to think twice. Rio will be overly expensive in the WC time frame and Ipanema is almost exclusively booked by FIFA and its commercial partners. One reason for Van Gaal to want to pick this spot is the proximity to the training complex of Flamengo, only 10 minutes away. This venue was popular amongst most nations but team manager Hans Jorritsma was able to snatch it up before the other countries could do business.


We will end this post with some positive words of Willem van Hanegem. Normally highly critical but at the same time a tremendous football fan and loyal supporter of Oranje. Played a key role in the 1974 midfield of course and was assistant coach at the 2004 Euros. But he needs no further introduction. By far one of the best players ever ( classic left footed number 10) and a character to boot.

“I am really happy and proud that we qualified again for a World Cup. Congrats to all. And I do not say this in a cynical way, despite my criticism during the series. It was clear when I saw the draw for this qualifications that we’d get there, but still. It’s still a good job done. For the third time in a row. And in Brazil too. Any football player will get goosebumps to play a World Cup in the mecca of football. A dream. And I will look forward to this big time. We might have lost some quality along the way, but I don’t mind. I will still look forward to the World Cup.

But I will remain critical too. But my criticism will be focused on football, I won’t be bothered to talk about the fringe topics. And I also hope Van Gaal won’t be bothered by all the low level sarcasm on Dutch tv about him. Ignore all these people and focus on the game. Van Gaal needs his energy to build a strong team. Because no nation will have nightmares about our individual qualities. We do not have the strongest squad this time around. Robben and Van Persie are top notch. And Lens might have a strong weapon with his speed. When Sneijder has his form and fitness, he is special too, but that is it, really. We need to find it in team spirit, in workmanship and team tactics and sacrifice. And that is something you can build up. Because the category players Schaars/De Jong/Strootman/Blind/Janmaat/Schaken are either simply mediocre water bearers or inexperienced youngsters.


It is important that Van Gaal gives clarity early on. Who are the players he will build on. Determine the hierarchy and protect that structure. Make sure that the key internationals are aware of their role and tasks. I believe that if this team travels to Brazil as One Team, gelled into a football machine, we might be able to demonstrate something special to the world. We might not be the obvious candidate to win it, that won’t be easy, but with 10 months before us to grow, you never know. The team and all individuals still have a way to go. I will start enjoying myself already and I am very optimistic about this World Cup.”


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