Tag: Iniesta

This Blog: the Future

My friends, Happy New Year, first and foremost. I started this blog back in 2004 when I was completely devoid of any Euro 2004 coverage in Australia and I had to have people in Holland tape the games and send it via snail mail to me, allowing me to watch the games “live” one week after the fact!

And all this time, trying to keep my ears and eyes closed for any news articles or coverage while awaiting that tape.

I started to get involved in the predecessor of this blog before I was forced basically to take the blog under my wing when the original blogmasters decided to stop their national team platform.

We’ve seen ups and downs, wins and losses. From the blood bath in Nuremberg in 2006 to the rollercoaster ride of 2008’s Euros. The amazing run to the finals in 2010 and heart break in 2012. The return of LVG in 2014 followed by too many years in the desert with a series of coaches, from Hiddink and Blind, via Grim and Lodeweges to Koeman, De Boer and Van Gaal again.

We saw Sneijder come into the fold and retiring from football. We criticised Kuyt, Blind and Howard Webb. We adored Gio’s wonder strike and were in awe of Stekelenburg’s save on Kaka’s attempt. The Casillas toe, the Van Persie own goal, the madness of Van Gaal’s antics in this past World Cup and the ongoing debates about players, systems, line ups and the Blind family.

It’s been 18 years. Time to move on. I hoped I could say my farewell with a World Cup win but it’s not to be.

I had fun doing it, and I made some great friends. The blog even resulted in a partnership with 3 dear friends, at least…they were dear friends when we started. Some meanderings resulted in a bright commercial idea by one of our Singapore based regular posters and that resulted in a partnership to execute the idea, potentially catapulting the new venture into stratosphere with gazillions of dollars as revenue.

The project failed. The tech wasn’t ready. The founder decided to make some silly mistakes with the money, the investors got antsy and lost patience and it all went to shite quite fast.

One of the partners died while watching an Oranje match (no joke) while the other three (me included) never spoke again.

There were amazing loyal and supportive and generous posters here. I won’t name their names, but a few of you were always happy to support me financially and I thank you all for this!! (You know who you are).

One of the many results that came out of this blog. We laughed, we cried, we debated and argued and we celebrated.

This blog is up for grabs. Whoever wants to pick it up and run with it: let me know. Send me something in the comments and I’ll reach out. I’m not selling it. It’s for the guy/gal with the best ideas, plans to move this forward.

I have not done many things. I never wanted ads (the money they pay is lousy and I feel it ruins the experience). But I also wasn’t able to bring daily news updates, videos, funny highlights, or whatever. I focused mainly on the Dutch NT and less and less on clubs. My video library was literally non existed on the site and I failed to engage you all with polls, quizes or other interactive stuff.

I hope the next blog master will be happy to do more with it.

If you’re interested in taking the mantle, let me know and we’ll work something out.

Bookmark and Share

Louis van Gaal interview

Louis van Gaal has announced his definitive squad for the coming two matches. He selected 28 players.

Why this big squad for the upcoming matches?

LvG: “For me, the World Cup preparation starts now. And apart from the fact that I want to see many players and test players, I also want to start implementing a new system. I remind you that in 2014, we were able to do this, but just. We had to grow into it, during the tournament and it was not ideal. Back then, i had 5 weeks (…) prior to the tournament to do this. Now, I will only have 1 week before the start of the World Cup. So I will need to start now.”

So these Oranje weeks are more about the new system than the matches?

“Correct. Usually, it’s two matches as a main course and the days around it, you practice. I see this differently. I now have a period to work on the new system and we’ll have two interruptions, two games, in between.”

Jordan Teze is a remarkable name. How did you come up with him?

“Well, as you will know, he plays for PSV. He is Dutch. So we follow him. Like we follow many players. And with De Vrij injured, we need some alternatives. Teze is a young player, with an outstanding build up pass. That is how he caught our eye. And that forward pass is important and it’s quite rare to see. He moved from right winger, to right back and now he plays centrally. That experience will be handy for him.”

And Hateboer is back.

“Initially, we wanted to test Frimpong. He is totally new for the group. But he got injured. Hateboer is not new, we know him, he’s an international already but lost his spot due to his injury woes. But he’s playing at Atalanta again, so it felt like a good time to call him back in.”

Denmark and Germany. Two top nations. What do you expect from them?

“I expect that they will be playing at our level, at the least. So we know there is intensity and pressure. They will defend on the front foot and we have not played those type of opponents. It will be great for the fans to see these games. I expect two full stadiums. Great opponents and Denmark has had a tremendous couple of years, Denmark qualified without dropping points and I hope the fans will want to be part of this process.”

Can we expect surprises these games?

“Yes, I think I will have surprises in the line up and in the way we play. Our spirit, but also our system.”

There was also time for some fan questions.

How is your hip doing?

“Thanks for that. I’m doing well. It was a 6 to 8 week thing. I had a tear in my hip, but it was super painful when it happened and I was not allowed to take painkillers, as I had to coach the team the next day. But it was really painful.”

How was it to be back as coach for Oranje?

“I was a bit reluctant and hesitant. There simply wasn’t anyone with the same skills and experience as me. I didn’t do it because I really wanted to. We were also two points behind, we had three big matches in that week and I expected not to be able to add much to it, in the first weeks. But I was wrong, because this is a super group, with a great commitment and maturity. The team spirit is amazing and that is just a joy for any coach.”

What changed since the 2014 campaign?

“Not much. My football vision has never changed. Same in 2012, or 2000 or in 1995. It’s just that the players are different and the generations are different. You cannot be a dictator these days. In the olden days, coaches like Michels were totally authoritarian. And another thing, at Ajax, we always worked from the perspective of “We are the Best!”. But clearly, when you play higher and higher you cannot expect to win all the time. At Barcelona I once played a match versus Valencia. The Valencia of Ranieri. We were 3-0 up in the first half.  And we kept on attacking, so we lost that match 4-3. That was a lesson! And we used this too last time vs Norway. We decided to play fully on result and we were able to manage the game and kill the game.”

How is it for you to work with these young players?

“Actually, it’s great. Working with young players keeps you young. And this group actually triggers me, inspires me. More so than the 2012 or the 2000 squad. They think football, they use analytics, they discuss tactics and ask me questions. That is quite good actually and it keeps me on my toes. And it’s fun. I always look forward to working with them.”

If you had to pick a player from the current generation who is most like you as a player…?

“I was a so-called defensive mid, but I wasn’t. I didn’t defend too well. I was a deep lying playmaker. I could dribble if I wanted to, but I lacked speed. So passing was my thing. And I saw the game well. Of the current squad, I think I resemble Teun Koopmeiners most. He also is comfortable in the deep lying role and his passing ability and vision are great. He is capable to play passes through the lines and he skips lines with his passes. He’s now also more an attacking midfielder, as he does have more speed than I had, hahaha.”

Which coach inspired you most?

“That was Rinus Michels. I was around 14 years old and Michels was coach at Ajax. I was playing but I always went straight to the Ajax training after school. I wanted to see him coaching the team. And I also went the same trajectory as him. I went to study for a physical ed teacher and I got my coaching diploma like him. It’s cool that I too now have coached Ajax, Barca and Oranje, like him.”

Do you have any hobbies outside of football?

“Tennis, golf and playing cards. I love klaverjassen and kingen. Loving my wife is also a hobby of mine. I am never bored.”

What was your favorite Oranje match, as coach?

“That has to be our first match at the World Cup in Brazil, the win over Spain. Spain was World Champion and hardly lost games. The media in Holland wrote “why does Oranje even go to the World Cup??” and we created a plan and the players executed it perfectly and we won: 1-5. That was a big shock to the global football world.”

What do you think of the Nations League?

“It’s a competitive tournament, so that is good. And I see it as a good prep for the World Cup. We hardly have any prep time. So I will use the games to test different players. But playing against Belgium is top. Poland is also a tough opponent. We have amazing opponents, Wales is also not easy.”

What kind of music do you listen to?

“I guess soft-pop, would be the term.  Music from the 60s and 70s, I suppose. The era of the best music. What the kids listen to now, that shrill type of pop beats, I don’t like it. Why would I try to listen to new music, when I know I have heard the best music already.”

Which player is the best young player you ever coached?

“I need to mention Clarence Seedorf here. He was 16 when he made his debut with me and he has won the most prizes internationally. But the ultimate are either Xavi or Iniesta. They were 17 and 18 when they made their debut. They were even better than Seedorf.”

Will we win the World Cup this time?

“I will never say this before hand. But what I can say, is that the Best Team will win. And I will do what I can to make us the Best Team. And then a bit of luck. It’s not the best individuals, but the best team.”

Sadly, I wasn’t able to ask my questions:

Where is Rick Karsdorp ??

“Well, Mourinho loves him. And I loathe Mourinho. So, there is that. Rick is also a Feyenoord lad. So that doesn’t work in his favour. And he might roll his eyes at me. So there.”




Bookmark and Share

Johan Cruyff is still alive!

No, I’m not referring to Appie Nouri, the brilliant young Ajax midfielder who hopes to get his first start for Ajax 1 soon. When he was 11 years old, the analists in Holland called him “the new Cruyff”. He might be, who knows. Like JC, he’s tiny and thin. But has wonderful vision and the same bravado. But, we said it many times about many players, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

I’ve got a brilliant piece here on the real Johan, thanks to the VI magazine.

But before that, prelim squad was announced (as was posted already) with an interesting return to the squad for Stijn Schaars.

Danny Blind: “I have kept the prelim squad limited to 22 players. We have many players returning from injuries and I want to check their progress before I can make definitive decisions. It wouldn’t make sense to get a 30 man prelim squad up, knowing some of them won’t be even on the radar for the Belgium/Luxembourg meetings.”

There are several question marks, with Jeroen Zoet, Jasper Cillesen, Jetro Willems, Daryl Janmaat, Leroy Fer, Steven Berghuis, Quincy Promes, Arjen Robben, Eljero Elia and Bart Ramselaar returning from injuries or just returned from injury.


Kevin Strootman is suspended and won’t be part of the squad. Blind has decided to replace the midfield leader with another seasoned player. We do have Daley Blind and Jordy Clasie for the role of course, but Daley hasn’t played there for ages and will most likely be needed in defence. Wijnaldum has played there, Ramselaar could play there but Blind will not through Ramselaar in that position untested, while Gini is doing well in a more box to box role. Bazoer might have been the ideal player for the role but he hasn’t seen action for many weeks.

Stijn Schaars is the perfect choice. When he left PSV, he decided to play “at a lower level” with Heerenveen, as he wanted to get more playing time. Well, the “lower level” is now with PSV, as Heerenveen is flying under new coach Jorgen Streppel and takes the 3rd position on the table, with PSV on 4th. Schaars is the conductor in midfield. Hardly misplacing a pass, directing the game, pacing the game and kicking off the pressing. One of the outstanding players in the Dutch league at the moment and a perfect Oranje player: experience, discipline, communication skills and flexible.

stijn oranje

Schaar had to be texted by Blind, as he didn’t have Danny’s number in his mobile. Blind called him three times to invite him and three times Schaars decided not to pick up. Schaars: “I hardly pick up when I can’t recognise the number and let it go to voice mail. When the coach sent a text with “This is Danny Blind. Please call me” I realised I better make that call.

I’ll keep you posted on progress around Oranje, as will our fellow blog guests of course.

Also, Robin van Persie has been celebrated and honoured for his 100+ caps for Oranje. The KNVB has made another big blunder by sending the medal and the shield by mail. Fricking mail!! They could have gone to Istanbul and spend the evening over dinner. They could have invited Van Persie to the France home game! One of the biggest players of the last 10 years, and they fricking post him the presents for his benchmark. What a bunch of losers!

Now over to Johan Cruyff!

Seven months after his dad passed away, Jordi Cruyff was in the Netherlands. His Maccabi Tel Aviv won vs AZ in the Europa Leauge and he spent some time working on the Cruyff Foundation activities.

The interview takes place in Alkmaar, when Maccabi is doing their last training before the AZ game. Cruyff talks about his youth, growing up in Barcelona, while keeping one eye on his team. He has a keen eye, a quick tongue, a sharp mind and the ability to play chess on multiple boards. He didn’t get that from a stranger. It’s in the genes, went from father to son.

It is now seven months ago when his world famous dad died. Just before, he had visited Jordi in Israel. “I was so pleased with that. We have enjoyed being together and we discovered the wonderful city of Tel Aviv. I have been away from home more than 20 years. All those “normal” family gatherings were not normal for me. So I look back on this with a warm feeling. It sort of helped me to process all that happened.”

Johan Cruijff bezocht enkele weken voor zijn overlijden zijn zoon Jordi in Israël. Rechts Peter Bosz, toenmalig trainer van Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Johan Cruijff visited his son in Tel Aviv, mere weeks before he died. Maccabi ex-coach Peter Bosz is enjoying the banter.

So now, we have Johan Cruyff – My Turn. Interesting title, as it is Johan’s first autobiography (after many biographies) and it hints to the famous Cruyff move of course, the Cruyff Turn. Jordi read the Dutch version and is now reading the English edition. He will also read the book in Spanish. “I really like to see how the different translators worked with his words in different languages. His Cruyffian texts will be fun to read in an other language.”

Jordi also read things that are new for him. Like the details about the kidnap attempt on his dad in Barcelona, on September 19, 1977. This, so he learned, was the real reason why Johan decided to skip the 1978 World Cup in Argentina.

“My parents never spoke to us about that kidnap event. I think they wanted to keep it from us. He started to tell us only a year and a half ago. And the finer details, I had to read in this book. It clarified a lot! My mum was always blamed for my dad not going to the World Cup. But it wasn’t that at all. I now see things clearer. When I was young, I was never allowed to go on school trips and outings and if I wanted a sleepover my parents were always a bit cautious. They were probably afraid someone might try something. My parents were instructed by the police never to talk about this in public, as it might give other people ideas… I was also surprised to read a lot about his adventures in the US. That was quite impressive for him, apparently. I didn’t know this. This is why the book was very interesting for me. And of course, it’s brilliant that is ideas re: football have been made immortal for ever, haha.”

Pep Guardiola staat Danny en Jordi Cruijff bij tijdens de presentatie van de autobiografie van Johan Cruijff in Londen.
Pep Guardiola, Danny Cruyff and Jordi Cruijff at the presentation of the biography in London

The football part in the book has no secrets for Jordi. They discussed football all the time, in all fine details. And one word will be used a lot by Jordi, talking about his father: extreme! “A lot of coaches say they want to play dominant football, and attacking and attractive… These terms you hear a lot. But only a few can actually do it. You need big balls to push this through and some coaches will fold under pressure. You have to stick to your guns. Even if you lose four times in a row. My dad was extreme in that aspect. Nothing and no one could bring him off balance. You need a strong personality and guts. And you need some luck too.”Jordi thinks back to the insane season finale in 93/94 in Spain. Deportivo La Coruna was able to snatch the title up if they’d beat Valencia at home on the last match day. Barca did its job at home vs Sevilla. 5-2. It was 0-0 at Deportivo and they got a penalty kick in injury time. Dukic took it and choked. He missed and in Camp Nou, an explosion of joy erupted. “Quite incredible. And this you can’t practice. It’s luck. But, if you look for it, you’ll find it. If you don’t go for it, you won’t. And I saw it as a reward for my dad’s courage. He was extreme, if I check some of the line ups he used. How was that possible. He used a right winger as his left back, he had a midfielder who couldn’t run the 100 meters in 20 seconds and he used him as right back. And then Pep and Koeman together in the centre. But he got it to work.”With his gutsy football approach, Cruyff was able to bring a new identity to Barcelona three times. He did it as a player, from 1973 till 1978, as a coach, in the late 80s and in the naughties he did it as a consultant, strongly suggesting Rijkaard and then Guardiola to take the helm as a coach.


Jordi: “Don’t forget what the style was before my dad came here. Spanish football was defensive. Counter-style. Afraid not to lose. And then this Dutch guy comes along and says “Ok, we went from A to Z in the past, now we’ll go from Z to A!”. It is important to be able to change the mentality and get the belief from the players that they can do this. So he signed players from the North of Spain. Basque players are really disciplined team players. And he signed the ideal foreign players for the additional impetus and he picked youth players who wanted to believe in him. So you need a mix of iron discipline and frivolous talent. A lot of people claimed he was on a suicide mission, but he never ever doubted himself.”

“I have developed my own football vision. With strong influences of my dad of course. But I added my own ingredients. My dad was raised as a Dutch player and you saw that in his tactics: extreme possession, pressure high, using the wings for attacks. Typical Dutch. I grew up in Spain, so I have learned to play for results. Johan never cared if he lost, as long as the team gave what he want. I am more focused on the rest-defence, positioning and compact play and the 5 second ball recovery process. We had some good clashes over this.”

Barcelona-trainer Johan Cruijff en Pep Guardiola overleggen in juli 1995 met Gheorghe Popescu.

Barca coach Cruyff and future coach Pep instructing Popescu in 1995.

Jordi recognised a lot of his dad in former Tel Aviv coach Peter Bosz, now at Ajax. “Bosz is as extreme as my dad. Very ballsy and always looking for the positives. I loved working with him and I’m sad it was so brief. I am not surprised Ajax wanted him. Even more so, I knew when Frank de Boer would leave, Ajax would target Peter. So when De Boer left Amsterdam, I knew what was coming. And it was all done in a correct fashion. He’s doing well in Amsterdam, there was some criticism because of the results. A typical term I learned from Co Adriaanse, in Holland they are used to score-board journalism. If you lose, you’re wrong. If you win, you’re right. But that is not fair. Every coach needs time to go through the motions. And definitely with Peter Bosz: he wants to attack. Which requires extreme focus of his players as this playing style is tough. So, he needs time. Peter is the ideal Ajax coach, I have no doubts.”

JC dribble barca

Jordi is technical director at Maccabi since 2012 and they immediately ended their 10 year period of trophy-less football, with attractive play. Jordi likes coaches with guts, independent thinkers willing to take chances. “Barcelona has paved the way for many coaches and clubs to dare to play forward. You can play attractive and win trophies. My dad may have initiated that process, but coaches like Rijkaard and Guardiola added their qualities, like Tito and now Luis Enrique. Luis has improved the mental aspect of the game a lot at Barca. They are the benchmark for good football with results and funnily enough, with smaller players at the core. Xavi, Iniesta, Messi…those guys can do anything with the ball. They had a lot of impact on the way people think about football. If you have the ball, you don’t need to run too much. The opponent has to chase. That is logical, as my dad would say, but to be able to do this is another thing. And then stick to it.”


Bookmark and Share

Match Preview Spain – Oranje: Tapas time!!!

This is to tell you a bit about our first opponent, Spain.

Spain is a country in the south-west of ….of screw it!! You know who they are! Where they are! What they are! What they can do!

Hell, we taught them all they know… The likes of Michels, Cruyff, Beenhakker, Metgod, Hiddink, Neeskens, Koeman, Muller, Witschge, Cocu, De Boer, Afellay!!

The whole tiki-taka is a Dutch abbreviation of tik tak football. We say in Dutch “tik tak” if we mean pass and play. Tiki Taka is probably Cruyff’s way of explaining things in Spanish.

So Real Madrid was this powerhouse in the 50s and 60s and in the 1970s Barca tried to take the reign and for a long time they did very well in Europe with their clubs. Real, Barca, Sociedad, Valencia, Deportivo…. But the Spanish national team never really set the world on fire, like Uruguay, Hungary, England, Holland, Brazil and Germany did… They won the first European Championship in 1964 and repeated that consecutively in 2008 and 2012, which is quite good. But in World Cup terms, they were chokers. In 1982, they hosted the Cup but failed to impress under coach Santamaria. They were knocked out in the second round. They did fair much better in 1986 or 1994. In the 2002 World Cup, one could have expected Spain to beat South Korea but in a controversial match, South Korea beat the Spaniards on penalties.


Some people believe Luis Aragones was the inventor of tiki taka and it originated purely because in the mid naughties, Spain had a suspect defence. And the ball in possession in midfield strategy meant the defence would not be put under much pressure… We know better. Johan Cruyff and later Louis van Gaal will have done more for Spanish football than Aragones and the use of two former JC proteges as Barca coaches ( Rijkaard and Guardiola) will have added to this.

Historically, Spain always produced good players. Every generation had at least a number of above average lads although Barca and Real tended to find their star performers across the border. From Puskas and Di Stefano to Cruyff, Neeskens and Laudrup, to C Ronaldo and Bale to Messi and Neymar, but the Spanish squad currently is overflowing with talent and quality. The youngsters keep on going (not unlike the Dutch development) and this is probably the biggest issue coach Del Bosque has. Will he go for the more experienced lads that got him the two recent titles (2010 and 2012) or will he break down the existing hierarchy – like Van Gaal was forced to do – and select some young turks to keep the team fresh.

There is a risk in both scenarios and we will see what the man comes up with.

oranje jesus

I think we will see Del Bosque play with Cesc as false striker. Iniesta and Villa from the flanks. I wouldn’t be surprised if Xavi starts on the bench, with Xabi Alonso centrally with Busquets and David Silva in midfield. A defence of Alba, Juanfran, Pique and Sergio Ramos. Although Javi Hernandez might get the nod over Pique. And I think Van Gaal will be playing 4-5-1 when Spain has possession and 4-1-4-1 in possession. I also believe we’ll see Clasie in our line up, as the little Xavi from Rotterdam has the feet to match the combination play in the tight spaces of Spain.

What can one say about this Spanish side. Oozing quality. Unbelievable quality. Mata, Corzola, Silva, Torres, Hernandez…just some names of players who might not even play. And then there is Michu and Isco who were left at home. To name a few players.

oranje salvador

Spanish media have tried to create unrest in the Dutch team with stories of Oranje players living it up in the Rio night life. And claiming that Dirk Kuyt was actually involved in that. This rumour didn’t stick. If it was Depay, Fer and Wijnaldum one could have believed it but Kuyt and Robben would be the last players you’d expect to samba the night away :-). Van Gaal laughed it off.

Still, Holland’s golden triangle of Robben, Robin and Wes is seriously feared in Spain. And with reason.

I believe Holland will beat them with a shock 3-0 scoreline. Why? Because Spain is tired. And a little bit lacking desire. Real desire. Most of the players had a big season, with most even playing the CL finals. As C Ronaldo, Reus, Wellbeck and Van der Vaart can testify: the international football calendar is long. Spain doesn’t want to be put to the test this first game. They like to start a little bit relaxed. The big guns want to keep their powder dry. But Holland might only have 3 games to shine and Holland will be super ambitious and driven in that first game. Spain might see Holland as a nasty mosquito on their way to bigger game. While Holland will view the first game vs Spain as the finals!

So we will go out there and chase them all over the park from the first second and Spain won’t know what hurt them. I predict a goal in the first 20 minutes, with Arjen Robben being involved. I foresee a second goal before half time with Van Persie involved. And when Spain fights back with Costa in the second half, it will be a cool counter attack led by Sneijder allowing Oranje to finish Spain off! Just my feeling. And as I am the blog king here, I can delete this forecast during the game if things turn sour.

The ref is Italian. If I’m not mistaken, none of the Spanish players have a history in the Serie A. In the Dutch team, both Sneijder and De Jong have played in Italy and have encountered Rizzoli and speak the language. Could be a plus.


Bookmark and Share

Without Cruyff, no Messi….

Cool book review: Graham Hunter’s “Barca: The Making of the Best Team in the World”.

Buy it now, at the UK Book Depository. Postage is FREE. See link on my home page 😉 and here….


If the 175,000 Barca socios would organise to massage his feet everyday, cook for him, carry him to his bed and caddy his clubs for him on the Montoya hill…even if they’d pay him 50% of their weekly wages….then still the debt the Barca fans would have to Johan Cruyff would not not have been paid off.

Graham Hunter published the book “Barca: the making of the greatest team in the world” this month and is on a quest to find the factors that made Barcelona such a tremendous success. From players to coaches to presidents to youth academy. An inspirational book…a football bible.

And his conclusion: without Cruyff, we would not have had Pep Guardiola, Lionel Messi, Xavi, Iniesta… They would all have been judged too small, too vulnerable, too frail.

“This current Barca team also carriers the Cruyff DNA in their genes. The way they practice and train, the way they play…the way they feel that creative football and entertaining the crowd is as important as winning,” writes the English journo. Without Cruyff, the Barca Legend would not exist.

“Without Cruyff, no dream team. No dream team, no totall football. No tiki-taka, no Rijkaard, Laporta and without Cruyff and Rexach, Guardiola wouldn’t have made it into the first team.”

In 1989, it was Johan Cruyff who laid out the parameters for the La Masia Youth Academy. He restructured the way the youth was developed signicantly. Only 3-4-3 was allowed and the lads that were exceptional were put in teams of older boys to generate resilience.

The goal keeper was told to be pro-active as a field player, one-touch was introduced and forward pressing when the ball was lost. Ball possession and regain it fast once turned over was the key. And every player was told to gain the utmost ball control. The players were motivated to do tricks, to dribble and to try out things.

Hunter: “These elements are all still very current in Barca’s youth academy and led to the golden generation of the recent teams we’ve seen. And Spain’s European and World titles, in a final inwhich they ironically beat Holland, are made by Cruyff. Spanish football and Catalonian football owe their success to Johan Cruyff.”

The English Guardian published their top 100 of best players of 2012.

Lionel Messi is obviously number one, and his team mate Xavi is number 3. The eternal number 2 – C Ronaldo – is sandwiched between them. Robin van Persie is the best Dutch player on number 7. Iniesta, Ibrahimovic and Falcao are considered better players this year. The next Dutch name is to be found on 63: Klaas Jan Huntelaar. Sneijder and Robben made the top 100 as well.

Hot news from ESPN, Wesley Sneijder is about to sign for Tottenham Hotspur. The London based club pays 15mio euros for the little midfielder.

Barca youth team demonstrating the Dutch DNA

Bookmark and Share

Viva Espagna ! !

I am sorry people. I know some of you don’t like the way Spain/Barcelona plays…

And as we lost against them in 2010, we might carry a grudge, but By Golly they played sensational against Italy, didn’t they?

And if you can win three big tournaments in a row, even with not that good football ( 2010) you deserve respect…

And although I do think Barcelona is getting boring and predictable at times, this Spanish side really impressed me.

For a couple of reasons. And obviously, I look at them thinking… Hmmm, if only Oranje could play like this.

1. They can kill of a game / opponent
They know how to play good football and they know how to win games. They hardly concede goals. And they have patience. Xavi, Xabi Alonso and Pique are not only great players, they are also great tacticians.

2. They are sooo skilled
Every touch, every pass, every run…it’s all pure football. They experience joy on the pitch for sure and they are all about the game. Sure, some of them (Busquets) dive and others are a bit dirty (Ramos) but all in all, they are outrageous.

3. They work like a team and don’t demonstrate prima donna behaviour
Oh yes, we read about the Barca-Real Madrid rifts and the bust ups… But under Senor Del Bosque they operated as a team. Super player Cesc had to sit on the bench. I didn’t hear him whine. Torres got a look in and then he was benched again. Juan Mata won the CL with Chelsea and only played 5 minutes… And not a single word of protest or discontentment. And these guys all had a big season. They all had 50 games or more. But they worked and worked their arse off.

I liked this tournament. We saw a cocky and “Dutch” Germany choke when it mattered most. Again! We even read in their newspapers that success coach Low is to blame and that they want to go back to their old ways. Playing ugly but win.

We saw England playing for what’s it’s worth. Which is never that much. But there is passion and pathos in that team and lots of physical issues as well.

We saw Croatia playing a Spain-lite type of football, we saw Portugal finally throwing the chains off and play with balls and we saw France implode again.

But most importantly, we saw Italy playing somewhat Dutch ( it resembled our World Cup campaign… never great… one midfielder (Pirlo/Sneijder) important and one forward important ( Robben/Cassano) while the other one got headlines for many reasons and not always the right ones ( Van Persie/Balotelli)).

I think to track back for Holland, to get to the place were Spain is, is not that hard.

We need to go back to our roots. And we need to find some good defenders. Arbelao and Ramos have demonstrated that we don’t need world class players on all the positions. Sergio Ramos compensates a lot with his mentality and physical strength. While Arbeloa is almost a pathetic figure in this wonder team.

But somewhere down the line, this Spanish team will fail. Xavi will get too old. The desire will go. Complacency might set in. Del Bosque might retire. Etc etc…. And then we will look back at the period 2008 – 2012 as the Spanish period and we will tell our grandchildren about the legendary Spanish team. And names like Iniesta, Fabregas and Casillas will mean as much then as Puskas, Eusebio, Cruyff and Netzer mean to us now…

Bookmark and Share