Posts Tagged ‘Eljero Elia’

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 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

  • 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,, 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.


NED v JPN Match Report

The Dutch continued their progress with a win over Japan.  Strangely they are among the best performing teams thus far with 6 out of a possible 6 points.  Only Argentina have full points at the time of writing.  Considering the other European highlights include Spain, Germany, England, Italy and Portugal that is significant.  Maximum points may prove vital yet in this most unpredictable World Cup.

Strangely similar to the Oranje’s first game against Denmark there was precious little to be interested in during the first 45 minutes.  Absurd possession with precious little to show for it.  It appeared that both managers had a very distinct plan for this game.  While the Dutch have instilled an ultra posession style of play even beyond what Total Football would require.  When a person speaks of Total Football you envision fluid passing, darting movement and incisive attacking play.  You cannot describe the curent crop of Oranje thus. 

Van Marwijk is very much of the mindset that if you have the ball for the entire game no team can score which strictly speaking is a great idea.  I have said before that this works in theory but then so does communism.  Bert van Marwijk stuck with the same line up that failed to impress against the Danes. 

The first 45 today should prove a stern warning to van Marwijk about playing without any natural width.  Van der Vaart was poor again out of the left as he continually drifted infield allowing the Japanese to stifle any creativity.  Sneijder had difficulty throughout as he was manfully marked out of the first half.  Late in the first half the Dutch fullbacks were pushed up the field in an attempt to provide some desparately needed width.  Proving they were well prepared upon granting them space behind the fullbacks the Japanese attempted to expliot these gaps and while not rewarded with a goal they did provide a few worrying moments.

The second half proved fruitful again though and Kawashima’s failure to control Sneijder’s piledriver gave the Dutch a lead.  As with their first game it was the substitutions who took the game home and provided more chances in the last 20 minutes than in the rest of the game.  The Dutch started very brightly creating meaningfull chances early on.  Something that was missing in the first half were incisive crosses that forced Japan to make difficult defensive decisions.  Sneijder’s goal began as a cross into the box that fell unkindly to van Persie.  While trying to control the ball came out to Sneijder on the edge of area where Sneijder promptly cannoned the ball off the keeper and into the net.

After the goal Japan attempted to push back into the game through some attacking substitutions and extra pressure down the inside channels trying to exploit the Dutch attack-minded fullbacks.  Against Denmark Eljero Elia and Ibrahim Affelay were introducted to positive affect and today was no difference.  Both came on with twenty minutes to go.  Elia and Affelay were very bright and the latter could have – strike that- SHOULD have had 2 goals for himself.  I have to think that these cameos have provided van Marwijk , notoriously fond of consistency, with a selection headache ahead of Cameroon.  Making an appearance was also Klaas Jan Huntelaar who replaced van Persie very late on.  His impact was almost immediately felt as he control provided Affelay with the second of his chances.

We don’t have to be too worried about Cameroon now and if the result goes our way this afternoon.

Remember you can follow me on twitter @m_devries .  Also, you can follow Bert van Marwijk on Twitter @VanMarwijk_NL10 .  Join me in pleading for wingers to be used prior to the 70th minute.

Yes, we won.  Yes, it was rarely worrying.  But too little is being left to chance.  Total Football is a fantastic idea but to expect that at this point is naive.  HOWEVER!  There is nothing wrong with playing organized attacking football with the emphasis on keeping possession.  MY SALARY FOR A WINGER!!

Player Ratings

Stekelenburg – 7
van der Wiel – 8
Mathijsen – 6
Heitinga – 6
van Bronckhorst – 7
van Bommel – 7
de Jong – 6
Kuyt – 8
Sneijder – 7
van der Vaart – 4
van Persie – 6
Affelay – 6

Elia – 7
Huntelaar – 6

Team News NED v JPN

Well I tried to put some winds of change out there. I tried to add some alternative ideas to the idea-o-sphere. But alas the line-up for the Oranje is unchanged today.

I agree that the Dutch were not poor against Denmark but surely there was room for improvement. Coupled with the success of the underdog in the tournament thus far I personally – and humbly – believe that a minor change in the form of Elia perhaps would have created a level of unpredictability for the Japanese.

If rumors are true of a minor injury for Elia during training this week then I can understand van Marwijk’s reluctance to risk the player.

My hope is that van Marwijk provided van der Vaart with explicit instructions regarding width and driving towards the by-line to stretch the Japanese defence.

That’s all for now.

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 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  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