Home > Football > We’ll be Just Fine

We’ll be Just Fine

There has been a lot of negative reaction to the World Cup thus far and (of particular interest to me) the Dutch game against Denmark.  I am writing this now in an attempt to provide some much needed perspective and in some cases downright correction.

First of all let me list two sources of negative feedback for the Dutch.  The first is the match report on the Guardian by Paul Wilson.  The second report I came across was from the Associated Press by Robert Willward.  These are just examples I’m using to illustrate the prevailing thought I’m seeing with regards to the Dutch win.

I’ve heard a couple comparisons with England and I feel those are unwarranted.  I would characterize England as genuinely disappointing with players that are often thought of as world class.  In the case of the Dutch game  the Oranje, while not displaying the attacking verve all expected, were very well organized defensively which is not something you would say about most Dutch teams.  Upon reviewing the replay of the match I noticed Heitinga and Mathijsen were remarkable when anticipating passes coming into the feet of Denmark’s attackers.  Van der Wiel showed signs of promise and while van Bronckhorst was not an attacking force save one forray into the Danish box he defending reliably.

England are not going to win the World Cup because their team is not good enough.  Is the Dutch team any better?  Well yes the Dutch are stronger in attack, in the defensive bit of midfield and the defense seems to go about their duties with a minimum of fuss.  Will the Dutch win the World Cup?  It’s highly unlikely but that doesn’t mean they are a bad team.

Lastly consider this quote from the previously mentioned Paul Wilson’s match report:”Whisper it softly, but though Holland got off to a winning start in Group E their performance was not that much better than England’s. The Dutch fans must be hoping their team are slow starters too.”

In response to this I would like to make the following points with regards to the comparison:

  1. England were worse value for their result than the Dutch.  Denmark defended expertly however did not regularly threaten the Dutch and Stekelenburg looked sharp when called into action.
  2. England began with their best available team (bar Ferdinand) and struggled.  The Dutch were without Robben but were able to introduce a game-changing player in the shape of Elia: Robben has also returned from injury completing the attacking half of their lineup.  England have no such option off the bench.
  3. Both the English and Dutch were able to stick to their own style of play.  The Dutch had 66% of possession, thereby retaining control despiting struggling in attack.  England had 57% of possession but looked frequently threatened by Donovan and the pace of Findlay despite this.

I also wanted to take the results of the top teams (excluding Spain as they have not played at the time of writing) and put them into a certain context.  What I’ve done is I’ve taken the scores and divided the goals scored by the FIFA ranking of their opponent.  The purpose of this is to determine the “value” of each goal with respect to the difficulty of the opposition.  See below for the interesting results:

Rank Goals   Adj Goals   Goals Rank
4 2 Netherlands 0.056 0.000 Denmark 0 36
1 2 Brazil 0.019 1.000 North Korea 1 105
6 4 Germany 0.200 0.000 Australia 0 20
8 1 England 0.071 0.125 USA 1 14
7 1 Argentina 0.048 0.000 Nigeria 0 21

This is useful for determining the amount of hype we can attribute to a particular result.  Note Germany’s result being the heavy winner and with good reason.  Look then at the England/USA result and you can understand why the USA have responded so positively (albiet obnoxiously) to their result. 

If you compare now the results of the Netherlands and Argentina the prevailing opinion following Argentina’s win was positive.  Most of this positive feedback was directed towards Lionel Messi who, while lovely to watch, contributed nothing to the actual result.  The Dutch did indeed maintain their shape and went forward with their tactics; do the Argentenians have a similar plan?  What would the reaction have been without Messi sparkling throughout?

In conclusion I would simply like to make the point that the result was not disappointing but I will agree that they did not reach their full potential.  Against Japan we can look forward to a reunited Dutch attack.  I think I might continue using this dumb little formula to gage the true performance of each team.

  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: