Dear friends, I’ve been withdrawing from writing and blogging as work and World Cup took over priorities. But, now, with the group stage behind us, it’s nice to revisit the blog and share some thoughts. Expect more posts to coming sooner again by the way.
Thank you for the ongoing support! It’s always very nice and highly appreciated to see the support come in. You know who you are ;-).
As for the Tournament, I think we can all be quite comfortable with the recent events. For years we have been debating the decline of Dutch football, the development of lesser nations based on our football heritage, how the Germans stole our ideas, how Sweden and Iceland are even better than us, etc etc.
Well, the exit of Germany tells the story, I think. And as a result, we can now immediately stop focusing on “innovation” or “new identity of Dutch football” topics… It’s mostly the ebb and flow of football.
It’s talents coming up, or not coming up. It’s generations at the peak of their game and generations slowly becoming lacklustre, complacent, fulfilled…
Germany was killer diller in 2014 and completely at sea in 2018. Joachim Low was the meister in the past and he will be the failure moving forward.
Germany’s exit – very entertaining for us Dutchies – tells the story. A coach who can’t accept that his favorite sons can’t do the job anymore. A coach underestimating the bad run up to the tournament. Who failed to recognise why Tony Kroos is the King at Madrid and not in Der Mannschaft. A coach who wasn’t able to let the counter striker Werner shine in the more dominating national team. A coach who relied on veteran and unfit central defenders and who simply couldn’t find automatisms and patterns for his creative forwards, Ozil, Reus, Mueller… And to add to that: who felt he didn’t need Leroy Sane.
Germany uncharacteristically exposed vs Saudi Arabia
The Germans have been a mess, really, from November 2017 onwards. And their exit is a clear sign for the Dutch that if it can happen to the mighty, it’s not strange it happened to us. And just as the Germans will be back, we will be back.
And…look at Argentina! They have Messi, Angel di Maria, Aguero, Dybala… and it’s not much. Look at Brazil! Definitely not firing on all cylinders. Italy? In the same boat as us.
And from the likes of Sweden, Iceland and Switzerland, surely, we consider them to be inferior football nations to us, and they are only able to make an impression with muscle based defensive, compact football. There is hardly any creativity to be found in those teams and hey, if they can play at the World Cup, surely we can as well?
Australia, led by Bert van Marwijk and Mark van Bommel, were unlucky. It started with a bad draw, and slightly unfortunate matches vs France and Denmark. When they really needed to shine, vs Peru, they couldn’t, lacking a killer in the box and some composed decision making. Still, Bert made the Socceroos proud.
Ronald Koeman: “Based on what I saw up until now, I think Oranje would have done well at this World Cup. We’re not worse than at least half of these nations! We just need to qualify and once we’re in, we can always out perform our own expectations.”
Do we see any interesting trends?
A key one: dead ball situations. Lots of penalties thanks to the VAR introduction. I am good with that. Even though the esteemed VAR refs still missed a couple of huge ones (Mitrovic of Serbia, Berg of Sweden) and maybe handed out some soft ones. But it’s a step up.
Lots of goals from free kicks and corner situations. Stuff that can be practiced. Time and time again. With some creativity and hours of work, I’m sure we can dramatically improve in this area.
So, I’m quite positive moving forward to be honest.
My predictions for the final stages of the tournament? I fear for Messi and Argentina. I think England might cruise to the semis but Croatia will reach the finals, I believe. On the other end of the draw, it will most likely be between France and Belgium. With Dutch Bjorn Kuipers as ref and Danny Makellie as the VAR ref. The latter did well for his country :-).
Danny Makkelie impressing as VAR referee
In other exciting football news:
Dujan Tadic returns to the Eredivisie and signed a 4 year deal with Ajax.
Mark van Bommel takes the PSV job, while Phillip Cocu signed for Fenerbahce
Rafael van der Vaart will join PEC Zwolle pre-season for fitness purposes but Van ‘t Schip doesn’t rule out signing the artist up.
Morocco got the sympathy from lots of people, despite their disappointing run and Ziyech (Roma), El Ahmadi (France) and Nordin Amrabat (ex PSV) will surely be rewarded with a nice move somewhere else.
Juninho Bacuna of FC Groningen signed for Huddersfield Town.