Tag: Cahill

Big Puzzle for Louis van Gaal

Holland was the first European nation to qualify for the World Cup and it is now the first nation to qualify for the knock out stages. Despite all the pessimism and negativity (or concerns) we are doing something right.

We saw the great statistics on the blog, thanks for that, and it is clear that we are on an impressive run.

I personally believe and believed that Chile will be the worst opponent for us in this group and I can see Chile go far this World Cup.

Louis has some decisions to make and these decisions will be influenced by what the coach actually wants to achieve. Do we want to finish first or second? This will depend on how well Brazil will do but we won’t know this before we have to play Chile. Brazil plays Cameroon though and they are having a howler this tournament.

There is a dilemma in terms of playing style / system. The 5-3-2 worked well against a slow and sluggish Spain, that hoped to be able to simply pass their way to victory (and dive their way to victory). But against a hard working and forward pressing Australia the 5-3-2 was rubbish and after Van Gaal switched to 4-3-3 we got more control over the game. Which is exactly what we need if we want to utilise the class of Robben, Van Persie and Depay.

lvg post oz

And since one of the key figures at the back – Martins Indi – will not be present against Chile, it might be a good idea to resort back to our normal way of playing . Taking into account of course that Chile has its own ideas about how to play and/or what position to want in the group.

And another issue of course is the yellow card situation. De Vrij and De Guzman are all on edge. Will Van Gaal rest them against Chile? And the ever impressive and formidable De Jong is suffering a bit with little injuries. Maybe he should be allowed to take a break?

This is a tough one. Van Gaal doesn’t want to take risks with key players, but he also wants to maintain flow and rhythm. The scruffy game against Australia is not a benchmark for Van Gaal. “I cannot really process the way that game went. That was not a typical game for us. We will need to improve in possession, no matter what system we pick.”

Sneijder: “You can’t play great every game. We are on a World Cup. You have to calculate lesser games.” And Van Persie: “What counts is that we have two victories and six points.”
Vlaar: “This is tournament football. We need to score one more than the opponent. If we do, I don’t care about the rest.”

vlaar fist

All true but it is not wise to simply ignore the inconsistency of the team. Against Australia, players like Janmaat, Blind and Martins Indi were clearly the Eredivisie players again, the ones they tried to outgrow.

The FIFA chose Arjen Robben as the Man of the Match vs Australia. Normally, Van Gaal doesn’t single out players but this time he felt he needed to mention Nigel de Jong as his Man of the Match.

De Jong: “Every now and then you need to bite with the bark, you know? But Man of the Match, it’s not that important to me. The forwards, the goal scorers always get the attention. I had a good chance to score. If I did, it was 3-2 already, I might have had a chance. But it’s all good. I played well, so I can’t complain.” De Jong battled a lot with Tim Cahill. “He is a class act. I know him well from England. He has so much passion. The Aussies are not better than Spain but bring much more power to the game. In the first half, we played to clean. While they went for every lose ball. Some lads need to still grow into that. And you need to show yourself. After the break, we showed that side ourselves too. We drew the longest straw at the end. That is what counts.”

nigel cahill

Chile plays 5-3-2. They won’t debate that. So a 4-3-3 seems to be logical. Van Gaal: “I cannot share that conclusion yet. I will have to do some work on that.”

Van Gaal’s friend and ex-colleague at Ajax Co Adriaanse feels the 5-3-2 is done with. “It worked a bit against Spain. One half. And also because Spain lacked the desire, the power and the form. It was dreadful against a lesser Australia. When you play 4-3-3 there are more and better options to build up. It simply is easier to do. I think we got what we wanted versus Spain. Now it’s time to play our own football. I say: use Chile to get the team working on it again, and whatever the result, you know… When you play Argentina or Brazil or even Italy, you don’t want to use 5-3-2.”

Piet de Visser is a former coach and currently super scout for Chelsea. The 74 year old has an outspoken opinion about football. “To me Chile is the best team of the tournament. It was a surprise that Holland beat Spain but Chile gave them a beating too. Quite clear that Spain failed to bring new players in after their wins in 2008, 2010 and 2012. And they probably should have gone with a new coach. Brazil has a mediocre team. I think Holland shouldn’t fret too much about meeting Brazil in the knock out stages. Brazil is David Luiz and Thiago Silva. Oscar and Neymar do not carry the team but have flashes of brilliance. But both players had a tough season and it shows. Most other nations disappoint. Italy is shrewd, Germany is clinical and will make it very far. Argentina is also not performing too well. Again, Holland has a chance, albeit as an outsider.”

chile coach

Argentine born Jorge Sampaoli, coach of Chile, is a protege of Marcelo Bielsa. Once, when he was redcarded, he climbed into a tree to be able to still coach his team. Like Van Gaal, Sampaoli is obsessed. Marcelo Bielsa is known as El Loco. The Mad Man. The former Argentina and Chile team manager was inspired by none other than our Louis van Gaal and his 1995 Ajax team. And therefore it is safe to say coach Sampaoli as well, is a fan and follower of Van Gaal. This is the first time the two coaches meet and face off. 
Sampaoli: “We want to attack, we want to win and we want to put pressure on the opponent. We will never feel less than any opponent we play.”

And rightfully so. In 2013, they beat England at Wembley, 2-0 and earlier this year they outplayed Germany in Stuttgart. Chile is the number 3 South American nation behind Brazil and Argentina.

It is quite thinkable that Chile wants to attack to avoid Brazil and win the group. They’ll attack. And that will mean that there will be space for the Dutch to explore. And Chile might score a lot, they also concede a lot. They are the masters of 5-3-2 so it does seem smart to use a different system, to allow us to control midfield. A 4-3-3 which will be a 4-5-1 when not in possession seems to be the best way to go.

By the way, Chile and Holland only versed each other once before. In 1928. At the Sparta Castle in Rotterdam. Good times, I remember that game well. 2-2 it was and instead of penalties the decision was made by draw. Holland won.

We finish up with Robin van Persie leading the training here, with the young talents!

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Struggling Oranje beats Socceroos…

Wow, what a night! Where to start….

I said before the game I wasn’t too confident. And I also predicted a wishful 0-3, for Oranje. Well, we did get the 3 goals. And we got a big hit in our confidence. Holland is back on the ground after being a little bit lifted after the Spain tapas.

And Van Gaal did something he normally doesn’t do and shouldn’t do anymore. The man who uses logic and statistics for his decision making, this time used his heart to make a decision. Feeling. Van Gaal and feeling do not mix.

He wanted to give the lads who beat Spain another go. The 5-3-2 against Australia’s 4-5-1. Now, I am not a big systems guy. I think systems are overrated. Systems don’t win you games, players and opportunities do.

From a systems perspective, Holland’s system didn’t mix well with Australia. The one lone striker up front worked his ass off against 3 mediocre building up defenders. And the rest of the Dutch team was marked. The Aussies used forward pressure almost Dutch style and never gave Blind, Janmaat, Sneijder and co time on the ball. This rattled the Dutch. In particular Sneijder and De Guzman were at a loss. Sneijder never had so many stray passes, while Robben does what Robben does when things don’t flow. He starts to want to win it all by himself.


From a mentality’desire/focus perspective, it felt we were sluggish, and arrogant even. Our pace was low, our passing was off ( three stray passes to Blind in the first 30 minutes, Sneijder not finding his feet) and we simply were too late for most challenges.

From an individual class perspective, only Robben showed his quality in that particular first goal situation. The rest of the team was mediocre. Poor even.

The first threat was Robben converting an Aussie mistake in the 0-1. In Robben style. The former Groningen man sort of felt his mates were still in the dressing room and he decided to go it alone. Which sort of got the Dutch back on their cloud. So much so that the Socceroos were able to score within the minute. A great one time played ball into Cahill and a Van Basten style volley: 1-1. Cracker of a goal.

Tim Cahill Goal of the tournament vs Holland

This gave the Aussies wings and they outplayed us that first half all over the pitch.

And this is where we really got hurt. Not so much systems, but mentality. Will to win. Desire. And having an Algerian referee on the pitch didn’t help either :-).

The width of the Aussies rattled Holland as well. Spain’s wide players drift inwards when they can. Leckie and Oar however, hugged the line and created a lot of defence problems for Holland, who had to play one on one whenever Australia had the ball. And when they did, they moved their 4-5-1 into a 3-3-4, impressively.

A dramatic accident involving Martins Indi forced Van Gaal to show his cards before the half time break. A tough Cahill challenge resulted in BMI hitting the deck with his head and he is off with a concussion. Van Gaal used the moment to bring the 4-3-3 back with young gun Memphis Depay on the left flank.

The 4-3-3 gave Holland more control over the match. The 3 forwards kept 4 Aussies at the back and more fighting spirit (Sneijder, De Jong, Janmaat, Blind) in midfield helped Holland back into it. But where we created more in 10 minutes than in the previous 45 minutes, it was bad luck in our box that gave the Aussies a lead. A cross against Janmaat arm and the ball went on the spot. Australia didn’t fail and led 2-1. This is where Holland finally straightened their back and inspired by the entrance of Depay, Holland did to the Socceroos what Cahill did to us: score immediately. A good throughpass by the young PSV winger (definitely on his way out of the Eredivisie) to Van Persie who was kept onside and the Man United striker had only one thing on his mind. High and hard.

RVP equal

I did have the feeling we had more in us this game, but was very conscious that this applied to Australia as well.

It took something special and a fail by the Aussies to get on top though. A Depay distance strike C Ronaldo style tricked the young Socceroo goalie and found the net. 2-3 up for Holland but this wouldn’t stop the lads in green and gold to bounce back and come looking for more.


And for me, they deserved the equaliser.

But sadly for them and fortunately for us, we were able to stay in the game and with Wijnaldum and Lens as fresh legs (Van Persie limped off after a shock landing on his ankle) we did create more opportunities but somehow it never looked like we would dance past the ruggish Aussie players.

Lets just hope that this tough game will have brought some grit to the Dutch. Because we will not get away from a team like France or Germany, should they choose to play like this against us.

It is time we all become realistic again, after this fabulous win versus Spain, and realise we can only get something if we really fight and labour like there is no tomorrow all over the pitch. And then, with some class by the Golden Triangle and some tactical wizardry by Van Gaal.


And looking back at the Australia game, one can safely say that: 1) we did not show grit and workmanship but were sluggish and looked arrogant, 2) our big guns were hot and cold this game and 3) Van Gaal got it wrong with his tactical set up.

So there is a big decision to be made by Van Gaal.

Playing Chile, will we go back to 5-3-2 (as they tend to play Spain-like) or will we simply rely on our class and traditional 4-3-3 against all future opponents from now on and use Depay as our tropical surprise?

I’ll give you one hint. Skipper Van Persie was interviewed right after the game and he gave his true feelings away, as he wasn’t as guarded. “It was good to play 4-3-3 again, to be in our own style. We clearly all feel better playing that.”

Your thoughts?


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Match Preview Oranje – Australia: worries!

But not for us ( I hope). For them. The Socceroos. Or maybe: The Suckeroos, hahahaha.

They love their expressions in Australia. No worries mate! She’ll be right mate! Well, if Robin, Robben, Daley, Wesley, Bruno and Jasper have anything to say about it, it will be “She won’t be right!”.

Australia however, is pretty confident. They are always quite confident, simply because they know how to fight. They’re battlers. They love being the underdog. And they will never give up. That is in their DNA and they most likely will not be impressed with our stars.

Oz team

After being courted into the game of football (soccer here) by none other than Guus Hiddink, the Socceroos take their sports seriously. They had mixed results at the World Cup, with 2006 seeing them screwed out of the competition by the “Italian cheating bastards”. Hiddink was succeeded by Pim Verbeek who didn’t make a lot of friends in Australia and some assistant coach from Germany took over for a while but he had all the flair and charisma of a garden hose, so they replaced him and finally had the guts to appoint an Australian coach. With an Australian name. Ange Postecoglou.

But the round chested former A-League club coach has that same quality Hiddink has. Doesn’t fear no one. And with the same starting eleven as the team that did so well against Chile (bar two forced changes), the Aussie manager is focusing on delivering a big upset to the World Cup, and the Dutch in particular. “The score we ended up with vs Chile doesn’t tell the whole story. We actually did well.”. Poste needs to replace injured Ivan Franjic who traveled back to OZ with a hamstring and Mark Milligan. James Holland – formerly of AZ and Sparta – might be his replacement. Heracles defender Davidson and Utrecht forward Tommy Oar will most likely start.

coaches NL Oz

Postecoglou: “It’s a massive challenge for us to play Holland. They have so much quality and such a pedigree, but our team will grow as a result and we play good in big games.” The former Melbourne coach had to refresh the team and had to say goodbye to stallwarts like Lucas Neill, goalie Schwarzer and Harry Kewell. Tall striker Josh Kennedy got injured right before the World Cup so the Ozzies will filed a team, partly, of youngsters. Not unlike Holland. “And there is much at stake. If Holland wins, they will be placed and we can travel home. It’s a big game!”

And their star player, Tim Cahill of Everton fame, also is the man leading the line (like we have).

It seems like the Ozzie support will outshine the Dutch legion. Australia is the third nation in terms of supporters on the ground in Brazil, after Brazil (sic) and the USA with close to 20,000 people traveling to Brazil. In comparison, there are only 5,000 Dutch fans in South America.

trainin oz

Postecoglou: “I dropped my jaw when I saw Holland butcher Spain. I knew it would be at least tight between the two nations, but I rated Spain higher. But Holland was impressive at times. Still, I think we have a chance.” The Football Director of the Aussie Federation is none other than former Dutch coach Han Berger, who is in his final weeks now of his job. “This nation loves rugby more than anything. There are three different rugby variations. And they play football like they play rugby. In a fast pace move the ball forward and use physical strength and guts to push for a goal. This is not how you play football so we have started a whole new development process. But it will take a generation for that succeed.”

nl training oz

Which is why Ange has been given the task to refresh the “Hiddink generation” and bring new young players. This World Cup will be a learning curve tournament for them. Nigel de Jong is impressed with them. “I know Tim Cahill well. We played against each other a lot and I will meet him on the pitch again for sure. He is tough as nails and will not complain when you play manly. He loves it. He has a super mentality and is a tremendous header of the ball. With him, anything can happen. I rate him very high.” Australia lost 3-1 against Chile but as the coach said, the scoreboard didn’t tell the whole story. “We were close to 2-2 all the time in the second half, but we needed to play more compact and smarter. Big lessons to learn.”

Wes Sneijder expects a tough game against the Socceroos. “I understand the whole nation is euphoric and that is fine and dandy, but Australia is a tough nut to crack. We never beat them. That should tell you something. We are not with our head in the clouds. We won against Spain, but that merely gives us three points and a good goal difference. That is all.”

sneijd wall

Robin van Persie, Oranje skipper, didn’t want to speak to the press. “Superstition,” he said. “I am sorry. But before the Spain game and didn’t do media and I got two goals. I hope to do the same tomorrow!”

There were some rumours that Van Gaal wanted to go with 4-3-3 against Australia and that Lens would come in for Vlaar. But the latest news is that Van Gaal will allow the same players to start, and he will play a 5-3-2 / 3-5-2 against the Aussies. Van Gaal didn’t want to say anything during the last press conference about. “I can play both 4-3-3 and 5-3-2 with these lads. And in both systems, we can play according to the Dutch School.” Van Gaal also commented on the new philosophy in which he allows the families in the hotel every now and then. “I want to treat these lads as grown ups. I don’t want to take them from their families for weeks and have them send skype videos to their loved ones. I believe the lads feel better if they get to see their families regularly. And when they do feel better, they play better.”

RVP Oz training

Van Gaal had an interesting comment to make about the venue of tonights game. “The dug out is literally dug out. I sit under the ground. I can hardly see anything due to this big tv camera in front of  me. And I am not a coach who enjoys to stand along side the touchline. I want to sit and talk with my assistants. I asked them to fix it. I hope they have.”

VG before OZ

Van Gaal was impressed with the response of the players after Spain. “As a coach, you sometimes need to keep the players grounded. But after the Spain game, it was the older players who did it. They immediately warned the young lads that this was merely the start. Nice, but merely three points. That makes my life easier, to have players with that mentality.” Wesley Sneijder: “You notice in the group that we’re away. The first game is always tense. And no one knows exactly what to expect. Now, Australia is forewarned. The whole world has seen how we play. It will be harder now, against Australia, I think.”

Van Gaal: “Australia has to come and get something. They’ll attack. I know their coach and he is a good coach, with balls. The Australians will never roll over and lay down so we have a battle on our hands, I’m sure.”


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