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Posts Tagged ‘Brazil’

Our Opponents: Spain

I don’t really have much to say.  I considered not posting a preview at all because to be honest I’ve tried to avoid thinking about this game at all.  I hate and I love these games at the same time.  I would never miss it but at times I can’t bare to watch.

I’m afraid to feel confidence.  The last time a team of mine went into a match against a quality team and I was confident Barcelona beat Manchester United 2-0 in the Champions League final.  United’s performance was insipid; Barcelona were inspired.

To win would be life changing.  The line-ups and tactics seem strikingly similar to the Brazil game.  Regardless of how this game goes over its life if the result is the same I will be a happy man.

I can only imagine what it would be like to see the Dutch win the World Cup in my lifetime.

HUP HOLLAND!

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Our Opponents: Uruguay

Alright time for confession.  Everybody who thought the Oranje would get this far raise your hand!  Ya I thought not, well me neither so don’t feel bad.  Now everyone who thought Uruguay would get this far raise your hand!  Well I did actually but largely due to that side of the draw and the resulting fixtures.  Well done to them though as there is no such thing as an easy quarter-final. 

After Friday’s victory I saw a huge emergence of Dutch fans.  As soon as the final whistle sounded there were cars in the streets and fans on the sidewalks cheering and waving their flags.  I can’t recall ever seeing a display like this from the Dutch fans.

Both teams will be without some key players.  For Uruguay Luis Suarez will be missing because his intentional handball in the quarter-final.  It’s hard to downplay his significance as both he and Forlan have 3 goals a piece. For the Dutch Nigel de Jong and Gregory van der Wiel will be missing for picking up their second yellow cards against Brazil.  Boulahrouz is likely to deputize for van der Wiel and while de Jong’s replacement is less concrete it is likely to be Demy de Zeeuw.  Both players are significant in their own roles.  Nigel de Jong has been outstanding and, if you care to look, has consistently been among the best passers in the side.

I’ve unfortunately not seen much of Uruguay up to now but I’m fairly familiar with both the missing Suarez and Forlan.  From a neutral’s perspective you must enjoy Forlan’s determination to thrust Uruguay into the global reckoning.  For some reason is often stricken with an asterisk in terms of quality because of his unsuccessful spell in England though after the displays here it’s obvious what initially attracted Manchester United to the South American.

Up to this point and with the sole exception of last Friday every match they’ve encountered in the last two years has been with the Oranje firmly installed as expected winners.  For the first time the Oranje will enter a match with the added pressure that they could be on their way to…

Let’s agree that we won’t push our luck shall we?

Instead of worrying about what could be let’s just enjoy the highlights of a previous encounter with Uruguay, in 1974 to be exact.  The creator or at least the poster believes that is was the first true glimpse of what became known as Total Football.  One of the best things about this video is the offside trap played by the Dutch, the first example is already at 0:15 of the video and every Dutch player is within 2 meters of the half way line.  To call that aggressive is an understatement.

Post Match Reaction NED v BRA

Evening out there.  I had a little fun earlier posting a Brazilian history lesson that – as I’m sure you’re aware – temporarily at least has a happy ending.  As I’ve been trying to do I’m featuring a brief round-up of the reaction elsewhere and, as always, providing links so you can check it yourself.  There’s a lot of quality opinion out there even though I don’t always agree!

First up is Zonalmarking.net.  Blah blah blah…love this site…blah blah blah…good tactical breakdown.  You’ve heard it before. It’s also worth making the jump to their site if only for the classic picture of Brazil coach Dunga.  The highlights:

  • The focus was on Brazil’s meltdown: “Brazil are out. A dominant first half, a shocking second half – Holland took advantage of their defensive mistakes to record a famous victory.”
  • They attempted to explain the difference between the two halves: “There seemed to be a concious effort to practically give up on attacking the side where Brazil had Maicon-Alves-Gilberto-Lucio, and instead target the side with Juan-Bastos-Melo – often identified as Brazil’s weak point”
  • You wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t already know the result so you are aware that the Netherlands were completely successful and ultimately: “It wasn’t a drastic change in formation or personnel, but it effectively (a) nullified Brazil’s strengths and (b) exploited their weaknesses – good tactics if you’re the underdog”

Another favourite and frequent attendee in my round is Foppe de Haan’s blog from OnsOranje.  Foppe de Haan is not someone who expects to see Total Football; he’s a pragmatist in the vein of van Marwijk but he’s not impressed.  His post in reaction to the victory of Brazil was titled: “Oranje were lucky”, lol.

  • He’s not a total downer: “”Of course , it ‘s great that thanks to the Orange 2-1 win over Brazil they’ve reached the semifinals of this World Cup . Really nice , especially because against the Brazilians they played their best match so far”
  • “When you see that first goal go in, that was pure luck” Fairly straightforward, and he’s right.
  • “But thanks to Maarten Stekelenburg , I think the best man on the field, we still lived . He eventually made a really important save, I think a ball from Kaka that he was able to wonderfully tip aside. For me that was really the moment of the match”
  • He finished on a positive note at least: “So let the semi- finals come! I ‘m ready and Oranje is too! ”

Dutchnew.nl has a mini-roundup of their own summarizing the headlines of some of the major papers in the Netherlands.

  • A little confident for me: “‘We are ready to win the World Cup,’ say jubilant Dutch papers”  I prefer a cool head but who am I to stand in the way of the obvious joy we all felt.
  • “Oranje cannot be beaten” is another headline apparently saying the “secret” is that they can’t be beaten.  Not sure its much a secret but okay.
  • Last a weird one that I don’t know what to say about: “The Volkskrant has no news story on its front page, just a half page photo of Dirk Kuijt, Mark van Bommel and Arjen Robben with their arms round each other grinning from ear to ear and an unrelated column entitled ‘Telephone sex.'”  Ya, I don’t understand it either.

Coming from an outsider’s view we go to the Sun in England for their take.  The report comes from Steven Howard.

  • I think everyone thought the same: “We never, ever, quite believe it when it happens – even more so yesterday when they appeared to be strolling into yet another semi-final as they strutted off like peacocks at half-time. “
  • While most have been focussing on the Brazilian imposion the Sun saved some praise for the second half Dutch performance: “Confronted by their first real test at this World Cup, they collapsed just as they did against France at the same stage in 2006.  Instead, rejoice for the Dutch. And, in particular, for Sneijder. There may not be much of him – a shade under 5ft 7in – but in terms of modern midfield players he is a colossus.  Probably the finest in the world right now. And one of the greatest bargains of the modern era.”  If the unmentionable happens (I’m not willing to say the words) I’ll have Sneijder #10 on my shirt.
  • “The Dutch, though, march on with the enormous confidence only a victory like this can provide.”
  • Mr. Howard also gives his ratings.  For full ratings make sure you visit the full report via the link provided.  “Stekelenburg 7, Van Der Wiel 7, Heitinga 6, Ooijer 7, Van Bronckhorst 8, Van Bommel 8, De Jong 7, Robben 8, Sneijder 9, Kuyt 8, van Persie 5”  I don’t know if van Persie was quite 5 or van Bronkhorst an 8 but I’m nearly in agreement.

Alright, that’s the best from the best that I’ve seen.  The only thing that matters now is the Semi-Final.  There is absolutely nothing beyond that and we can’t allow ourselves or anyone else to forget that Uruguay is the only oppositions before us.  There could be more but you won’t find anyone talking about what that might be here until the only step that matters has first been taken.

You can look forward to my Semi final preview tomorrow!

Quarter Final Video Love

Can you believe that its been almost 48 hours since we put out Brazil in the quarter finals?  I can’t really come to grips with it and I keep smiling.  Can you remember the last time you were impressed by a Dutch team’s fighting spirit?  I certainly can’t and I think that’s why I’m stilling having trouble believing it.  We took on a superpower and beat them.

Okay Mike, let’s have a little perspective.  Brazil weren’t at their best and it was an error that let the Dutch back into the game.  My point is simple.  I thought as soon as Robinho slid home that lovely goal in the tenth minute the Dutch spirit would be broken.  Up to that point they had been happily trundling along content to nudge opponents out of the way.  It was at this point where adversity pummeled the Oranje that I was near certain it was over.

Shame on me for my lack of faith.  Isn’t it a trademark of good sides that all they need is a door left slightly ajar?  At 1-1 there was much to do and through perserverance and determination not only did they get the second goal they needed but their opponents lost their minds a little bit.

With all the talking done let’s sit back and look at some of the history that was intermingled with Friday’s game.

We start with the 2-0 victory over Brazil in 1974; one of the greatest Dutch sides of all time.  Both of these goals, Neeskens and Cruyff, are without a doubt two of the best from the tournament.  Both seem to typify the type of player the scorer was.  Neeskens with a lung busting run into the box going into a hard challenge for the ball and in doing so lifting it over the keeper and into the net.  Cruyff’s mid-air lunging volley captured his outrageous skill.  Notice also some horrific tackling by the Brazilians…

Next we have the defeat to Brazil in 1994.  Essentially a clinic for awful defending.

Here we see the devastating semi-final loss to Brazil on penalties in 1998.  Likely the best team at the tournament the Oranje thrilled the crowds.  The Dutch are most remembered in 1998 for Dennis Bergkamps spine-tingling 88 minute winner against Argentina.

And last but perhaps most significant of all is Friday’s come from behind victory.  Apologies for the abbreviated highlights but FIFA is making it hard to get a decent video.

Obviously the true significance of the victory will be determined as time goes by.  For now all we can do is enjoy the incredible acheivement and hope there is more to come.

Match Report NED v BRA

I cannot believe it.  I have seen most of the game twice over now.  I still find myself cheering even though I know how it ends.  When Kuyt was put through I still throw my hands up in despair because I can’t believe he didn’t get the third.

I’m thinking back in my life and looking over the great matches or great performances I’ve seen.  I think of Netherlands v Argentina in 1998 with the glorious goals by Kluivert and that goal by Bergkamp followed by Netherlands v Yugoslavia and that ridiculous 4 goal haul by Kluivert.

Today while we saw some great performances it is the fantastic result that stands out.  Can you bloody believe it?  Totally outstanding as a team and Robben and Kuyt were sublime.

As the game began the Dutch were terribly overmatched.  It appeared to the Brazilians were comfortable from the start and it could very well have been 3-0 in the first half.  There was one goal chalked off for offside and while that should have been a warning the Dutch were caught unawares for the opening goal.  The moans from Dutch fans were heard around the world when Mathijsen picked up an injury and was replaced by the bag-o-rice on two pegs Andre Ooijer.  Ooijer was largely at fault for the Brazilian goal as he played Robinho onside and was found unavailable to mark the runner as Heitinga was committed forward.  Credit to Melo though: that pass was out of this world.

The second though!  Wow, can you believe how that turned out?  The Dutch had some early pressure and it paid off as a defensive mistake by Melo and Cesar allowed the Dutch an equaliser.  Sneijder whipped in a cross from the right and both Melo and Cesar went for it with Melo being the unfortunate player who flicked on the ball into his own net.  The equaliser was a basic corner flicked on by Kuyt at the near post to Sneijder who whilst standing in the area was able to direct a good header past Cesar.

From then on the Brazilians seemed completely out of the match.  While they continued to push forward the could not find a way past the Dutch and Kuyt and Robben both enjoyed a lot of room down the flanks – something this writer didn’t dare to dream of twenty-four hours ago.   Critically the Brazilians were reduced to 10 men with about 20 minutes to go when Felipe seemingly lost the plot and took a kick at Robben as he went down under a foul.  Really strange stuff but this effectively killed off the game as a contest and allowed the Dutch to breathe and settle within themselves.

 It should have been 4 though with Kuyt being put through but appearing to be completely exhausted and unable to muster a proper shot.  A better chance was offered much later with three Dutch players standing – yes standing – in a triangle around the keeper yet somehow managing to not score.

Let’s be honest: I’m over the moon.  This result is without a doubt one of the greatest I can recall.  How far can they go?

Player ratings

Stekelenburg – 8

van der Wiel – 7

Heitinga – 6

Ooijer – 5

van Bronkhorst – 6

de Jong – 6

van Bommel – 7

Robben – 9

Sneijder – 8

Kuyt – 9

van Persie – 7

Our Opponents: Brazil

It certainly seems like a different tournament now.  Of course I can only speak for myself but from this morning onwards I haven’t been able to shake a feeling of trepidation.  I just don’t know what to expect!

I’ve made my case about the current squad’s style of play but at this point I’m left scratching my head as to how this will lend itself to tomorrow’s game against Brazil.  In truth I’ve heard very few people who believe the Netherlands can win. 

I know what’s causing my hesitation but I’m afraid to admit it.  It’s the lack of attacking spark from the Dutch.  I’ve tried to be very positive about their performances because I have seen a lot of good things about the shape of the side, the mentality of the side and the overall results.  After watching a couple of the Brazil games it seems the South American’s are more comfortable in their own skin with more chances being taken. 

The Dutch have for the most part been comfortable but at times in matches the team appears too comfortable and allow oppositions back into the match.  The win against Slovakia should be a warning as for large parts of the second half the Dutch allowed Slovakia to make inroads and Maarten Stekelenburg was called into true action for the first time in this tournament.

Tactics

We can be fairly sure of the starting lineup on Friday.  As much as everyone has been calling for two wingers in order to pin back the Brazilian fullbacks its highly unlikely van Marwijk will begin with Kuyt on the left and Robben on the right as he did against Slovakia. 

Brazil also have an established line up and only injury concerns are forcing changes for Dunga.  There is no doubt Brazil will actually attack as opposed to Japan and Denmark.  Samuel Eto’o in the group stage and the in-from Vittek for Slovakia were good practice for the back line but the true danger comes from Kaka and Robinho who will be moving between the Dutch midfielders and central defenders. 

For the Dutch to be successful they will have to come out of their shells to a certain degree when attacking.  They have been very disciplined when defending and provided de Jong and van Bommel can marshall Kaka and pick up any runs from deep they will be able to realistically look to win the match.  Given that Brazil will not be looking to merely shut down the Dutch there should be space with which the Dutch can create opportunities.

Personalities

For the Dutch Arjen Robben is the key man.  He will be looking to exploit the inexperience and suspect defending of Brazilian leftback Bastos.

For Brazil Kaka will have the spotlight firmed planted on him.  Playing a similar role to Sneijder on the other end of the pitch Kaka will need to link well with his midfielders and Fabiano if the Samba boys are going to have any success.

Key matchups

Bastos versus Robben.  Kaka versus de Jong.  Kuyt/van Bronckhorst versus Alves/Maicon.

Predictions

I’ve always been told that I don’t have to do anything that I don’t want to do.  One of those things is to predict the outcome of this match because truly I can’t grasp it!  I think I’ve come up with a way to squeak out without really committing myself.  I have no idea who will win.  What I do is how the game will play out defending on the result.

If the Dutch win the game will go this way: Brazil will be stifled, struggling to create chances and the Dutch will successfully convert a half chance or two.  The Dutch may come to life late on the match as belief because solidified: 2-0

If the Brazilians win we will see a game (I can’t believe I’m saying this) similar to the North Korea match where for long periods Brazil were frustrated but their quality up front eventually finds a way through the as yet untested Dutch defense: 3-1

An alternate tactical preview can be found at Zonalmarking.net