Posts Tagged ‘Rafael van der Vaart’

Our Opponents: Slovakia

Alas my friends I am unable to create a full match preview ahead of the 2nd round game for the Dutch against Slovakia.

Quickly I have a few points

1) I hope Arjen Robben plays. Whether on the right or the left I hope I don’t see van der Vaart on the team sheet. Will it happen? I’m doubtful

2) The Dutch need to focus on this game and not Brazil. Euro 92 the Dutch forgot to focus on the game at hand, ie Denmark, and were dumped out of the tournament.

3)The Dutch need to come out flying trying to make an immediate impact instead of waiting later on in the matches as we’ve seen in the previous 3 matches.

For a more complete match preview have a look at my favourite football-geek website

Full match report to come later this evening!


Match Report NED v CMR

Evening all.  We’re all finished with the Group Stage and its difficult to point out too many flaws.  The Oranje came into the match needing merely a point to set up a second round date with Slovakia on Monday.  I’m trying my best to ignore the utter and complete failure of Italy and allow them to grieve.  I will not point and laugh.  Despite the close scoreline the Dutch were not unduly tested however Cameroon certainly played differently than both Japan and Demark.  Had this match come earlier and providing Cameroon came out with similar designs we may well have seen an utter rout.

In the end goals from van Persie in the first half and a second by Huntelaar late in the final frame were enough to ease the Netherlands clear with nine points from three games.  In between the Indominatable Lions had equalised through a Samuel Eto’o penalty after van der Vaart handled a free kick inside the area.  Bert van Marwijk will be pleased van der Vaart contributed to van Persie’s goal but overall his match was sub-standard once again.

Tactical Analysis

Prior to the Dutch substitutions the Oranje came out in much a similar fashion as the previous two matches.  Van der Vaart started on the left, Kuyt on the right, van Persie up front and Sneijder through the middle.  It seemed the Dutch had been given instructions to use the flanks more often as most of their good work in the first half came from deep crosses from Kuyt and van Bronckhorst.  Also, there was good running to the byline often by Sneijder.  With the Cameroon midfield and attack more advanced that Japan and Denmark there was additional space provided to Sneijder and van der Vaart in the middle. 

As a testament to van der Vaart’s inability to effectively play on the left consider that his assist to van Persie came from the right side of penalty area.  Having the left-footed van der Vaart on the left should mean he is at least running downfield putting in crosses but by comparing him with Kuyt you can see that Rafael isn’t comfortable crossing on the fly and he is repeatedly forced to hold up the run and play in either the on rushing leftback van Bronckhorst or look for Sneijder closer to the centre.

Van der Vaart would be an adequate replacement for Sneijder however he has been played to the detriment of the squad when utilized on the left.  As a special point of pleasure for me there were several instances of Kuyt and Sneijder tracking Cameroon players running from deep when on the attack.  I’ve been impressed with van Marwijk’s ability to get all players on board with the overall plan.

Robben Verdict

To the delight of all Arjen Robben made is long awaited return from injury.  He showed why he is a vital player to the Dutch providing direct running, challenging fullbacks, occupying the defenders concentration and providing a genuine goal threat. 

His best moment was his involvement for the second goal.  Sneijder’s sumptuous pass was well controlled on the right by Robben and after checking his run he came back towards midfield, glided past his marker and let loose a perfect curling shot that thumped the post.  His shot came back fortuitously for Huntelaar who was able to slot home.  It’s telling that the team ran to congratulate Robben in the centre allowing Huntelaar to enjoy his moment alone on the touchline.

Player Ratings

Stekelenburg – 6

Boulahrouz – 5

Heitinga – 6

Mathijsen – 6

van Bronckhorst – 7

de Jong – 6

van Bommel – 7

Kuyt – 7

Sneijder – 8

van der Vaart – 6

van Persie – 8

Subs: Elia – 5,  Huntelaar – 6, Robben – 7

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.

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.

Oranje Squad Trimmed and Tested

Hello there.  Initially van Marwijk named his preliminary squad of 30 players and on the whole there were few surprises.  No van Nistelrooy was the only significant talking point while the inclusion of 2 uncapped players was strange.

Since we last spoke about the squad there have been some cuts as well as a friendly against Mexico.  The squad was trimmed to 27 following the departures of Otman Bakkal, Wout Brama, and David Mendes da Silva.  It would seem van Marwijk has made up his mind as far as his midfield is concerned.  Perhaps on the only player still fighting for a place is Stijn Schaars being amond the least experience.

May 27 is the day of reckoning for the rest of the squad.  This evening the Netherlands took on Mexico in a warm up game with van Marwijk looking to run the rule over the other players on the bubble.  Ryan Babel was not available due to an injury.  He may be available for the next two friendlies.  Vlaar too is attempting to recover from injury but faces the same seemingly impossible task as Babel: having to impress on the training ground and having no chance to show your ability via a true match scenario.

Vernon Anita, Edson Braafheid, Khalid Boulahrouz, Jeremain Lens, the aforementioned Schaars and Demy De Zeeuw were all looking to impress.  Interestingly Anita came on at half time while Lens did not feature at all.  Engelaar came on for Schaars which leads me to believe van Marwijk was looking to judge the balance of the squad with either player.  The same can be said for Braafheid and Anita on the left of defense; it seems they are battling to be van Bronkhorst’s understudy. 

Come tomorrow I expect Lens, Schaars, Anita, Vlaar and Babel to be left on the cutting room floor with their dreams in tatters.  I truly don’t understand why managers select players like Lens and Anita with no international experience what so ever.  I would hope the proper expectations are initially set.  Boulahrouz looked to be at fault for the Mexican goal however; Anita was tracking his man and Boulahrouz was the only player close enough to mark Hernandez.  You never though, it could be a lucky blunder that lets Anita slip in through the back door.

The two passes leading up to the Dutch goals were outstanding.  Van der Vaart and Afellay will be giving some selection headaches for the manager ahead of South Africa.  Afellay’s in particular was completely delicious; instinctively dissecting the Mexican defense allowing van Persie to coolly volley (a real volley) home. 

With friendlies like this you can really only judge the team by the first half.  You should expect any substitutes to give there all but it’s often beyond them and the myriad of substitutions that often follow half time inevitably hinder the match as a whole and they often end as a true contest.

Click here for a link to the highlights from tonight.