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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!

Champions League Final: Sneijder v. Robben

Well there’s been no love lost as of yet.  I begin to write this 20 minutes into the match.

It’s been a somewhat sedate beginning with more tackles than attacks.  Sneijder had one particularly ugly challenge on Robben.  Strangely Ribery was sent off in the first leg against Lyon for a very similar challenge.  As of 25 minutes Bayern have had the lion’s share of possession with precisely nothing to show for it.

As of 28th minute the possession numbers look like this: Bayern 67% – 33% Inter.  Boring stuff really.  The fact that I’ve been able to write this runner without missing a thing is testament to the lack of anything…

Sneijder is involved in Inter Milan’s opener.  His composure on the ball and a deft pass puts Milito through.  Add  a lovely finish by Milito and you have a goal that essentially sums up what Mourinho’s team is all about.  Inter have beaten Bayern in the first half through patience and the ability to take the single excellent chance they’ve been provided with.

At half time its Inter with the lead really the game feels like its over.  You have to feel like Mourinho is in the dressing room right now laying out his plans with his club saying, “Alright, we’ve got our goal and that’s all we need.  Let’s park the bus and frustrate for the next 45 minutes. ”

Without wanting to be guilty of stating the bleeding obvious Bayern really need to score.  I would argue that they shouldn’t score too early providing Inter with a lot of time to absorb the ensuing pressure and hit them again.  Were Bayern to score after teh 75th I would put my money on the Germans grabbing the second.  If it goes to Extra time regardless of momentum and the score my money switches to Inter.

Now in the second half there has been more excitement in the first 2 minutes then in the whole of the first half INCLUDING the goal.

Inter Milan eventually get their second goal through Milito.  The two goals were completely different each requiring a different set of skills.  Fifteen yards inside the Bayern half Eto’o sprayed a through ball for Milito, just hanging onside, who made an utter fool of van Buyten who ended up on his backside while Milito coolly stroked the ball past Butt.  Bayern have had incredible possession but have been able to create absolutely nothing.  Inter are now cruising to victory with Bayern meekly firing attempts at goal.

The final whistle blows and Inter are Champions.  Regrettably Bayern did not offer much of a test.  They were allowed to have an inordinate amount of possession but were able to create SQUAT.

As much as it pains me to say it they are worthy champions given the context.  And so how does this look for the Oranje?  As far as we can see all three vital Dutchmen emerge unscathed and ready for he World Cup.  Sneijder will go to camp with club football’s greatest prize.

Netherlands Almost the End of the Season Update

Hello out there in Football blog reading land. 

We’ve now reached what just about everyone likes to call the “business end” of the season.  There isn’t very much to talk about as far as international football is concerned so I thought I’d briefly summarize the seasons of our starting eleven.

We can look forward to a team playing regularly and performing well consistently.  With the exception of van Persie the team will be match fit. 

 

The only position that lacks a clear first choice at this point is centre forward.  van Persie is coming off of a long lay off, van Nistelrooy has yet to regain his previous form and Huntelaar does not seem to have the confidence of van Marwijk and would likely not be chosen above a fully fit – if not match fit – Robin van Persie.

The problem is…statistics are crap and mean nothing.  Elia might bottle it, Huntelaar could be put up front and van Persie shunted out to the left.  The Dutch actually have a settled squad with each player enjoying reasonable success with his club.  Sneijder and Robben are enjoying their best form of recent memory.  Each has led his team to the brink of domestic success and the Champions League semi-final.   

Could this really be the tournament?  There has never been a better chance for our team but they will have to overcome the other leading lights in World Football and only time will tell.