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Posts Tagged ‘Nigel de Jong’

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.

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

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.