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Posts Tagged ‘Denmark’

Our Opponents: Cameroon

Thursday brings us to the conclusion of Group E.  Beyond tomorrow the Dutch will go on to what whoever awaits beyond.  Before we’re there though we have the small matter of Cameroon.  After last Saturday the Indomitable Lions are no longer flying the flag for Africa as they were officially eliminated following their failure to gain a point against Denmark.

Most notable among the Lions are Samuel Eto’o of Champion’s League winning fame, Alex Song of over-complicated-passing-with-no-real-end-product Arsenal and Jean Makoun Don’t-know-him-well-enough-to-make-a-joke of Lyon.  Really Cameroon have half of a good team.  Manager Paul Le Guen has a handful of outstanding talents with some “others” filling in the gaps.

Unfortunately there isn’t a lot we can really say.  The Dutch are riding high and their only concern would be maintaining whatever momentum they’ve gained and advancing first from the group: though that has little advantage with Italy looking likely to be the opposition.

Cameroon will be playing for pride and will want to provide a performance to make their supporters proud. 

The two unknowns are the Dutch line-up and the ultimate result of the match.  Cameroon are not an organized team structured to frustrate their opponents.  Up to this point we haven’t seen a side come out and attack the Dutch and this could be the chance for the entertainment we have all waited for.  The second variable is the Dutch formation and starting line-up. 

We saw in Cameroon’s game against Denmark that Cameroon do not provide cover on the wings and most of their attacking play comes through the centre.  For a more in-depth analysis have a look at ZonalMarking.net ‘s breakdown.  If the Dutch are able to properly attack down the flanks the Lion’s could be torn assunder. 

Van Marwijk sent out a Tweet yesterday: “Wat een speculaties weer van Bert M. iedereen zal het donderdag wel zien.”  That translates roughly to, “There is a lot of speculation about Bert M.  Everybody will have to wait to Thursday and see.”

 If Robben plays the match does not look to be a comfortable one for Cameroon.  Such a surprise would provide an oustanding launch pad for the Dutch and could kick-start their tournament in ernest.

My prediction is a 3-0 victory for the Dutch.

On a completely unrelated note I stumbled Bert van Marwijk’s Twitter List featuring all of his players.  It looks like he has created Twitter accounts for all his squad. See below for the list.  Wierd.

http://twitter.com/VanMarwijk_NL10/mijn-selectie

Post Match Reaction NED v JPN

Good evening all.  We saw the Netherlands take on Japan this morning in what was a fairly dull match.  I don’t know if you managed to see the late game with Cameroon and Denmark but that was a much more entertaining spectacle.  The result of that match, a 2-1 win for Denmark, means the Dutch are officially through to the next round.

That was painless eh?  Two matches, two wins and six points to show for it.  Three goals for and none against.  Ultimately they have not impressed but they haven’t really needed to.  Let’s take a look at what the press are saying.  As always I don’t want to take credit for what I post here but merely highlight good work by others.  Links are included in all cases for you to check out the full pieces.

From one of the most notable Dutch football sources VI.nl comes the following reaction:

  • De Jong was quoted as saying “These are tricky opponents and its difficult to keep our patience.  It pays off though” and also “”You have to get points, especially in a group stage. When you see how many countries struggle to win against somewhat lesser opponents that you just close down games. And then comes the beautiful football might be in the semis or the finals. “
  • Their match report can be largely summed up with this quote: The first half seemed an eternity.

Next up is the former U-21 Dutch manager Foppe de Haan blogging for Onsoranje.nl

  • He titled his most recent post “Big names were Disappointing”
  • “For sure the first thirty minutes, I found that the Orange did quite well. Okay, it was not perfect or sparkling, but it was not very bad.”
  • “No, the best player on the field I found was Mark van Bommel. Who played really well, actually did nothing wrong, though I was also pleased with Ibrahim Afellay”
  • De Haan also speaks about the team selection ahead of Cameroon and whether players should be rested: “Playing with a refined second team is in fact the stupidest thing you can do. You also saw two years ago at the European Championships in Switzerland and Austria.”

Again from one of my favourite sites, Zonalmarking.net, comes the tactical breakdown of Netherlands v Japan.  This is always worth a read.  Just a couple highlights:

  • “Both sides kept faith with their opening day line-ups. Holland continued to play both Rafael van der Vaart and Wesley Sneijder despite the impressive substitute appearance of Elijero Elia against Denmark.”
  • “Looking at it from another perspective, it was the second time Holland had broken the deadlock by putting a cross into the box, suggesting that this approach (which seems quite unnatural to their attacking players) might be more effective than constantly playing through the centre.”

Everyone is going to be happy with two wins but when you consider the audience you know that the enthusiasm will be severely tempered.  All Oranje fans require a match to be played a certain way whether domestically or internationally. 

With the last game against Cameroon I’m looking for an improved performance and I really need to see Robben given a run out.  I completely agree with Foppe de Haan regarding the squad selection; whatever momentum has been gathered must be maintained at all costs.

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:

    Teams    
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.

Post Match Reaction

I was just trolling through a few different websites after the match today and came across a few things I wanted to pass along.  I should say I don’t take credit for any of the work.  I’ve included links for all of them.

From the Telegraaf comes a few things:

  • The Champions League will have done Sneijder’s confidence no harm…He says, ” On the basis of the first half [it] would not be justified, but given my game in the second half I ended the man of the match ”  Charming…
  • Nigel de Jong’s tackling was widely seen as reckless and endangering the cause.  Below is a translated caption from one of the pictures, “Nigel de Jong playing with fire when came in two footed at Jorgensen”.  He could have seen red for the previously quoted tackle.  Bert van Marwijk has warned de Jong to be more careful with his tackling ahead of the next match.  De Jong was replaced by Demy de Zeeuw late on in the half and at least appeared to be positively received on the bench.
  • Perhaps on the back of today’s first half attacking struggle captain Giovanni van Bronckhorst had this to say, ” “It is good that Arjen Robben is there again, I hope he returns quickly.”  The Dutch attack did miss a direct attacking threat; we saw how the game changed when Elia came on.  Sneijder had this to say about Elia, “By Eljero there was more depth in our game. In midfield we had greater latitude to play football.”

From DutchNews.nl we get the following:

  • A ‘deserved three points for Netherlands, but let’s hope that is just a starter for them and not the best they can offer this World Cup because they didn’t have to be very good to beat a disappointing Denmark team today,’ BBC sports reporter Jonathan Stevenson said after the match was over.
  • As well as: Some 1.2 million Dutch fans had taken the day off work to watch the match. Hundreds of schools closed early.

Last but not least one of my favourite websites is Zonalmarking.net.  They offer geeky tactical analysis of just about every game and team you can imagine.  Their coverage of the World Cup has been outstanding thus far and it is one of the first sites I check after a match.  Below are a few highlights from their report after the Denmark game.

  • “A quiet game won by two scrappy goals – not really the performance we were hoping for from Holland. Some credit should go to Morten Olsen – his tactics stifled Holland’s creative players and Denmark did have chances to score”
  • “Aside from goal-kicks, however, the Danish midfield sat inside their own half and didn’t look to pressure the Dutch player in possession until they got within 40-50 metres of the goal. Their defence, too, sat very deep and meant Holland were unable to play balls in behind Daniel Agger and Simon Kjaer”

There is too much quality in their report to scoop.  You must visit their site to fully appreciate the depth with which they can analyze a match and the teams competing.

NED v DEN Match Report

The match began with some interesting selection notes.  Notably absent was Arjen Robben who was still recovering from a hamstring injury.  There were some who thought he might be in the side following his arrival in South Africa on Saturday.  That was not to be the case as van der Vaart was given the starting spot.  Notably present was Nicklas Bendtner who was also recovering from an injury.  He started up front for the Danes.

In the first half the Dutch enjoyed 60% of the posession.  This was certainly part of the plan; press when defending and when in posession of the ball be patient and look to create clear goal scoring opportunities.  In reality the Dutch found themselves against a well organized and disciplined Danish defense.  There were similarities between this game and the Germany/Australia game with regards to ball posession and game plans.  The difference here is the inability of van Persie and co. to get free of their markers.  Van der Vaart and van Persie have had good glimpses but Sneijder was poor, often failing to adequately link play between the other three attacking players.

The only shot in anger from the Dutch arrived from Kuyt early on.  Bendtner had the best chance of the first period narrowly heading wide after a very good ball into the 18 yard box.  The referee also seemed to be fairly bored; once the first 45 were up he was quick to blow for halftime and forget about the snore-fest he had just witnessed.

The Oranje soon found a way through however after the break.  A cross from van Persie that looked well covered by Denmark was inexplicably turned into his own net off the back of his man, Agger.  One would have hoped that his would cause the game to open up and Denmark boss Olsen was quick to put on Gronkjaer in order to force the match.

The Dutch still seemed to struggle creatively.  One outrageous effort from van der Vaart forced Sorenson into a smart save: the pass from van Persie being taken on the volley with his instep while turning away from goal.  While it was a lovely chance in reality Sorenson had it comfortably blocked off.

A few substitutions by Denmark failed to change the game.  With about 20 minutes to go Eljero Elia replaced van der Vaart and instantaneously made an impact taking on defenders and beating them effortlessly.  Still there were no obvious scoring opportunities.

Good running from Elia and Kuyt created the second with seven minutes to go.  Elia was put through from Sneijder and after his shot came back off the post Kuyt was on hand to bury the ball ahead of the on-rushing defender.

In all the match was a good exhibition of controlled football with only a clear attacking threat missing.  As the match neared the end the Oranje began to find a few openings and you feel the next match against Japan will display a more confident Dutch side.

Dutch Player Ratings:

Stekelenburg – 6

van der Wiel – 7

Heitinga – 6

Mathijsen – 7

van Bronckhorst – 6

van Bommel – 7

de Jong – 8

Kuyt – 7

Sneijder – 5

van der Vaart – 6

van Persie – 6

Substitutes: Elia – 9; Affelay – 6

NED v DEN Team News

June 14, 2010 1 comment

Good Morning out there!  Below are the teams that have been announced for today’s first match.

Netherlands: 1-Maarten Stekelenburg; 2-Gregory van der Wiel, 3-John Heitinga, 4-Joris Mathijsen, 5-Giovanni van Bronckhorst, 7-Dirk Kuyt, 6-Mark van Bommel, 10-Wesley Sneijder, 8-Nigel de Jong, 23-Rafael van der Vaart, 9-Robin van Persie.

Denmark: 1-Thomas Sorensen; 4-Daniel Agger, 3-Simon Kjaer, 6-Lars Jacobsen, 15-Simon Poulsen, 10-Martin Jorgensen, 2-Christian Poulsen, 20-Thomas Enevoldsen, 12-Thomas Kahlenberg, 19-Dennis Rommedahl, 11-Nicklas Bendtner.

There is no surprises for the Dutch.  Robben is not included in the line up however most expected this to be the case given his recent injury and ongoing recovery.

For the Danes Bendtner starts which was not expected by yours truly based on some of the injury reports I had read.  Fair play to Denmark if they have been able to return him to full fitness so quickly.  I would hate to see him rushed back however get injured and miss more of the tournament.  Nicklas is a dynamic young player who is great for the tournament.

Our Opponents: Denmark

Afternoon to you!  It’s half time just now for Argentina v Nigeria.  I thought I would do a brief round up of what we can expect in the next couple weeks.  First up is Denmark who the Dutch face Monday night.

According to my fellow blogger on the Fan’s Network the “youthful” Oranje side is not worthy of the respect most afford it.  Let’s put that false claim to rest before we dig into the Danish team shall we?  The age of each player likely to feature in the starting eleven against Denmark is as follows:

Stekelenburg – 28

van der Wiel – 22; Heitinga – 26; Mathijsen – 30; van Bronckhorst – 35

van Bommel – 33; de Jong – 25; Kuyt – 29; Sneijder – 26; van der Vaart – 27

van Persie – 26

That gives us an average age of 27.9.  Not exactly a youthful squad is it?  In fact you would say that most of these players are in their prime and have just come off of successful domestic campaigns.  And if my math is correct the average age of the whole squad is 27.25: not exactly infantile.

Now for some information about Denmark’s squad.  In their squad they have five players currently plying their trade in the Netherlands while their coach Morten Olsen was once manager of Ajax.  In the past the Danes and the Netherlands have opposed each other 27 times.  Denmark have won 6 times, drawn 10 and lost 11 times scoring 36 goals and conceding 55 in the process. 

They have some household names in the shape of Sorenson, Agger and Bendtner all who play in the Premier League.  They will almost certainly be without Nicklas Bendtner through injury and don’t necessarily have a like for like replacement to bring in.  On paper their defense is their strongest part of the pitch with the experience Sorensen organizing Daniel Agger and the up and coming Simon Kjaer in front of him.

Denmark did not qualify for the last World Cup but did feature in Korea/Japan in the 2002 edition.  In 2002 they went out to England 3-0 in the second round.  No doubt they’re going to want to improve upon that and while they do have a few real talents in their ranks you have to believe that job number one is to advance out of the group and then see what comes next.  Second in this group would likely mean a second round match up against Italy would almost certainly prove to be too much.

My prediction is a 1-0 or 2-0 win for the Dutch after a tight game with few chances.