Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Closure. And a fair dose of catharsis.

It’s become popular over the last several days to talk about the anti-soccer of the Dutch, the morphing of the beauty of “totaal voetbal’ (I own the shirt. And so can you…) into “totaal bastard voetbal”. In fact, I quote here from a previous post of mine: “D. Jong is going to make a reckless challenge at some point in this tournament and he is going to put Holland in deep, deep trouble”. Well it happened thank you very much, and who’s kidding who, that’s a straight red. In the 30th minute of the World Cup final. If he gets red there (as he should have), its game over.

And that gets to my one and only criticism of this team and the way it was assembled: they had 2 midfield pit-bulls (v. Bommel & d. Jong) and they really only really needed one (v. Bommel). With d. Jong off we could have featured Raf v.d. Vaart as a more creative and possession oriented support player for Sneijder, allowing Sneijder to offer better support to v. Persie, who, I’m sorry, looked like he had been abandoned on an island for long stretches of play.

Not to trot out my soccer bona fides too, too much, but let me explain how this works. Its generally understood v. Persie had, ah, a difficult tournament. He seemed out of sorts, a bit petulant, never really in the flow of the game. Well I’ve watched nearly all the games on replay now (and all of them live of course) and I can tell you it wasn’t his fault, it was the system…he was left alone to fend for himself always against a double team and very often a triple team. Why? Because Holland were playing with 2 holding pit-bull midfielders. Why was Gio able to unleash the goal of the tournament against Uruguay? Because for the opening 15 minutes of play Kuyt was making deep runs looking for v. Persie, opening up the defense. How did Sneijder manage to score on a header against Brazil? Because v. Persie made a near post run behind Kuyt scaring the crap out of 3 defenders. How did Robben score his winner against Slovakia? Because v. Persie made a near perfect curling supporting run. I could go on, but you get the idea. For all of Holland’s attacking options, they made a commitment to defense first in the midfield and v. Persie suffered most. V. Marwijk surely must have known this, and it’s hard to argue with success, but I’ll always have a nagging belief that a little less d. Jong, a little more v.d. Vaart, Elia, and Afellay, and the Cup is delivered to Holland in style.

Ah well…Brazil 2014!!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice summary.

8:32 PM  

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