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Posts Tagged ‘Italy’

Look ahead to Round 2

Going into the second day of competition for Group F all four teams were equal.  One point a piece, one goal scored and one goal conceded.  Saturday saw Group E eliminate Cameroon and guarantee the Dutch a spot in the second round.

Given the vital nature of this second set of matches for Group F I thought we would an opportunity to look at the possible opposition the Dutch would face in the second round.  Paraguay comforably won their match against Slovakia by two goals.  Italy and New Zealand clashed in the second game, the Kiwis taking a shock lead and Italy equalising through a dubious penalty.

Paraguay

Paraguay are one of the impressive South American participants who have maintained the status quo while the rest of Europe seems to be wilting under pressure.  Their match against Slovakia served to prove what we already knew about them.  They are an attacking side unlike many of the underdogs we have seen thus far who seek to cut out passing lanes and frustrate opponents.  Paraguay consistently look to get forward and score goals rather than prevent them from being scored.

Much of their impetus comes from the wings, again something that really only Chile has done so far.  In Santa Cruz they have an experienced centre forward who can ably hold up when necessary and can also take a scoring opportunity when called upon.  The first goal today came from a lovely piece of passing completed by a deft finish: both things the Dutch have not seen thus far.

Paraguay were certainly good value for their win and have played the best football in the group thus far.

The Other Team

As for the other team who the Dutch could face well…I can’t be sure.  I was expecting to write about Italy but after their draw with New Zealand I can’t really be sure.

Conventional wisdom says Italy will win their match against Slovakia and New Zealand are unlikely to get full points against Paraguay but who can say for sure?

I want to say that the Dutch would be able to comfortably handle New Zealand should the unthinkable happen and they make it through but you just can’t write them off.  That said the Dutch have attacking power unlike anything that exists in Group F.

The Italians while certainly organized have lacked any cutting edge and killer instinct.  I think that if they meet the Dutch in the next round and the Oranje are able to execute their plan of possession football the Italians will be beaten.  In truth the Dutch haven’t been stretched or even truly tested.  They have only been made to wait thus far and that will not last as they progress through the tournment.

The Dutch are expected to move past the second round.  Initially Italy were not expected but they look now to be the more likely opponents and the Dutch will need to be at their best if they are going to add to the Azzurri’s misery.

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Pulling back the curtain

I should be completely honest.  I think its time I took off the overcoat and revealed the shirt beneath.

I’m Dutch.  The shirt underneath is a shimmering orange finished with Robben #11 on the back.  I’m not ashamed by my background or bias it’s just that…well its a little hard to control sometimes.  As we move towards the World Cup a fever will take over.  Let me count down some of the worst moments in memory:

1. Losing to Russia in Euro 2008:  Talk about going out with a whimper.  After dismantling Italy and France earlier they play around with their system and line up and lost all of their momentum.

2.  Losing to Portugal in WC 2006:  One of dirtiest and most ill-tempered games I’ve ever watched.  Sixteen Yellow cards.  Four red cards.  At least two missed straight red cards, a tying goal smashed against the post and out and out cheating by the Portuguese.  Quite simply and ugly match.  Check out this really good article about the “Battle of Nuremberg” and you also have watch ‘highlights’ below to truly appreciate the depravity in its completeness.

3.  Beaten on penalties by Italy, Euro 2000(particularly painful): In the quarter finals against Yugoslavia was one of the best performances I’ve seen by a single player in a top international match.  Patrick Kluivert was sensational.  His every touch was goal bound.  I remember running up the stairs to update my family on the score and returning just in time to see the 4th go in.  Throughout the game the mostly orange crowd sang “Campeones (Champions)”.  They seemed to be able to do no wrong as the 6th goal came from a wicked deflection off the post that fell directly at the feet of the impeccable Overmars. 

     Now cue the Italians in the semi-final.  The Dutch had their chances.  The Italians down to 10 men.  Two penalties missed.  Bergkamp crashing a shot against post.  And then penalties.  I hate penalties.  I truly and deeply hate penalties.  They were always going to lose.  And as the Dutch prince looked on, smiling through the pain, they duly obliged.

I’ve frightened children with my screams and bruised my knuckles on low ceilings ove r the course of my relationship with the Oranje.  I’ve paid $5 just to get into a bar to sit at a table by myself to watch my team alongside a score of … err … unfriendly supporters of the opposition. 

I’m putting all of this down for a reason.  I want you to know that at some point in the future I may make an impassioned statement born solely out of frustration or euphoria.  Please remember that I am a flawed individual.  I open myself up to hurt and pain in the hope that I will be rewarded with happiness and joy.  Together we’ll make it through.  Thankfully this only happens every 4 years.