Category Archives: ORANJE

UEFA Nations League: Netherlands vs. Poland Preview




UK TV: Sky Sports Premier League

International football returns this week as Ronald Koeman’s Holland take on Poland in a UEFA Nations League Group 1 contest. Will Burns thinks despite the upheavel backstage, the Dutch can simply win this one.

Dwight Lodeweges appointed Netherlands interim coach | MARCA in English
Lodeweges with Koeman before Ronald signed up for his La Liga challenge.

Oranje’s caretaker manager Dwight Lodeweges takes control for the first time as the Nations League finalists began their journey against Poland, and the 62-year-old has inherited a side that were in impressive form during qualification for Euro 2020. The Dutch won six of their eight matches and suffered just one loss to finish as runners-up in Group C behind bitter rivals Germany.

Ronald Koeman left the national post to lead Barcelona next season but leaves the Oranje in a much better position than what he inherited from Danny Blind in 2018.  Koeman guided his side to five wins from their final six Euro 2020 qualifiers to represent in next summer’s finals, having failed to qualify last time. - Ihattaren included in provisional Netherlands squad
PSV wonderkid Mohamed Ihattaren will be itching to get on Friday night.

Lodeweges has an abundance of talent to pick from and could hand debuts to PSV wonderkid Mohamed Ihattaren, AZ’s Marco Bizot (GK) and Owen Wijndal (LB) or to Ajax’s central defender Perr Schuurs.  Although Juventus defender Matthias de Ligt is missing, the usual suspects of Virgil van Dijk, Gini Wijnaldum and Memphis Depay will form a strong spine in the team with the likes Steven Bergwijn, Quincy Promes and new Manchester United signing Donny van de Beek all vying for a starting spot.

One major blow for Polish manager Jerzy Brzęczek is that arguably the best centre-forward in the world fails to join the squad for this set of games. Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski is having an extended rest after scoring 61 goals in 56 games for club and country this past year, I think he deserves it.

The history buffs will want to know that the Dutch’s record in 15 games against Poland is won six, drawn six and lost three. The Oranje are unbeaten in last seven encounters (W4 D3) since 2-0 European championship qualifying loss in Chorzow in May 1979. Poland have yet to win in seven games against Oranje in Netherlands (D5 L2). However, history means nothing at all when the team’s line-up on Friday night. After all half of these lads were even born in 1979.

Bundesliga | Can Bayern Munich and Poland striker Robert Lewandowski be top  scorer at the 2018 FIFA World Cup?
Robert Lewandowski is rested after a unbelievable season.


Although I think the game may be a sluggish one for all concerned, and with the Oranje being disrupted by Ronald Koeman’s packing of his bags, I still think the Dutch are capable of clinching the win with ease. 

The main Polish threat, Robert Lewandowski will not play so I fail to see how Holland’s defence can be breached.

No Bobby Lewi, no Polish party.

Netherlands win to nil (2.30 at Bet365)

We will post preview/betting articles for the Eredivisie, Eerste Divisie, European and International competitions like this one throughout the year and we will keep track of our profits and losses for the whole 2020/21 season.  This is not an official bet due to lack of football from the Dutch sides over the past few months. Official bets will be begin in September.

Euro 2016 Qualifier Preview – Turkey vs. Netherlands

The Netherlands are back in Euro 2016 qualifying action on Sunday at 17:00BST when they go head to head with Fatih Terim’s Turkey. A game, which is crucial for both sides in Group A as the two sides are desperate for three points to help keep their European qualifying dream alive. Here’s Sam May with a full pre-match preview…

Both teams currently sit out of the automatic qualification places in Group A, but a win for either side on Sunday would help boost their chances of qualification. The Netherlands currently sit six points behind the Czech Republic and eight points behind group leaders Iceland. Whilst Turkey are seven points behind the Czech’s and nine points behind the Icelanders.

Danny Blind takes charge of his second game for the Dutch hoping it will be a night to remember in Turkey. It was a losing start for manager Blind as he watched his side fall short to Iceland at the Amsterdam ArenA through Swansea City midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson’s spot-kick just after the half-time break. The victory for Iceland was also helped by the sending off of Bruno Martins Indi for his unnecessary reaction to a scuffle with former Ajax striker Kolbeinn Sigthorsson, a reaction that Oranje captain Arjen Robben slammed as “very stupid”.

As a result, the Oranje can still qualify and gain one of the two automatic qualification spots, they will however be hoping that either Iceland or the Czech Republic slip up, which would enable them to do so. The defeat to the Czech Republic in their opening match was the one that left the Netherlands trailing, but wins over Latvia and Kazakhstan have helped to keep them in contention. Blind’s side will be hoping to secure all three points in Turkey or his team will be left hanging by a thread and could face an early exit from Group A. The Netherlands still haven’t recorded back-to-back wins in the competition. A win on Sunday though and there is still hope bearing in mind that one of the teams above them must slip up.

The Dutch also play the Czech Republic in their final match and the Oranje have not failed to qualify for the European Championships since 1984 – an early exit from the competition would definitely send shock waves around Holland. They have however won the tournament in 1988 and have reached the semi-finals three times since then.


Bruno Martins Indi is suspended for the crucial clash due to his unprofessional foul on Tuesday night, which helped Iceland claim the three points. PSV central defender Jeffrey Bruma is expected to fill the void left by Martins Indi, however Blind could also turn to Feyenoord’s 21 year-old versatile defender Terence Kongolo or Southampton’s new signing from Celtic, Virgil van Dijk. Captain Arjen Robben has also been sent back to Munich due to the groin injury he picked up in the 1-0 defeat to Iceland with Sunderland winger Jeremain Lens been added to the squad as a replacement. Look to PSV Luciano Narsingh to start in FC Bayern Munich man’s place.

Turkey’s Arda Turn was suspended due to picking up too many bookings for the previous clash against the Netherlands but is expected to lead the line for Turkey on Sunday night.


Netherlands 4-3-3: Cillessen;Van der Wiel, De Vrij, Bruma, Blind; Klaassen, Wijnaldum, Sneijder; Depay, Narsingh, Huntelaar.

Recent Form: WLWDWL

Turkey 4-3-3: Babacan; Balta, Aziz, Calhanoglu, Inan; Turan, Tore, Tufan; Sen, Bulut, Yilmaz.

Recent Form: LDWDWD


Antonio Mateu Lahoz (Spain)


Turkey 1-2 Netherlands


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Dutch Euro hopes suffer Blind panic


Danny Blind’s new look Netherlands faced Lars Lagerback and Heimir Hallgrimsson’s Iceland in tonight’s European Championship qualifying encounter at the Amsterdam ArenA. It was a game that saw new coach Blind take to the Holland hot seat for the first time, since the resignation of Guus Hiddink.

Both teams were looking forward to the evening’s encounter but Arjen Robben was feeling the heat the most stating that his side were in a “delicate situation” going into the match. Iceland went into the match knowing a win tonight and win against Kazakhstan on Sunday would clinch them qualification for the first time ever. As for the Netherlands they knew a defeat tonight would make it very difficult for them to secure qualification.

The Dutch roar echoed across the city of Amsterdam as the teams took to the field although, there was however tension in the air knowing that it would be worrying times for the Dutch if they failed to win tonight.

The game kicked off and it was the visitors who started the match brightly though on five minutes, an open goal miss by Bodvarsson from five yards out was the best chance for Iceland. A delightful cross by Gudmundsson. It would have been a well-deserved lead for the visitors but ended with a head in the hands instead moment for the 3,000 travelling supporters.

After eight minutes it was the Netherlands’ time to turn the screw with a fine shot from Robben on the right from 25 yards, that was equally matched by the on-rushing NEC Nijmegen stopper Halldorsson in goal for Iceland.

On 11 minutes, a foul by Stefan De Vrij invited a decent delivery from by Gylfi Sigurdson, which was comfortably caught by Jasper Cillessen in the Dutch goal. Shortly after a cross from Wesley Sneijder found Robben who could only see his tame header deflected out for a Netherlands corner.

Robben found Sneijder after quarter of an hour, whose shot from 20 yards deflected out for a corner to the hosts. It was a decent spell by the Netherlands and a nice piece of trickery from Manchester United’s Memphis Depay helped to find Robben who was deliberately fouled by Arnason. The freekick was taken but Robben could only see his speculative effort deflect of Davy Klaassen and go out for a goal kick to the away team.

There were worrying signs for the Netherlands on 25 minutes when Robben was stood holding his groin and had to be replaced by PSV winger Luciano Narsingh. The Bayern Munich winger had only just returned after four weeks out on the sidelines. Not something manager Blind would have hoped for.

On 27 minutes, a great delivery from the right by Depay picked out Hunterlaar, whose effort looked to have scraped the far hand post. It looked like it could be a long evening for the Netherlands.

Bruno Martins Indi

It did not get any better shortly after, Bruno Martins Indi was handed a straight red card after a foul on Kolbeinn Sigthorsson but replays show that Martins Indi had acted unprofessionally.  Three minutes later, lone striker Klass-Jan Huntelaar was replaced by PSV defender Jeffrey Bruma, a move that did not go down well with the home fans. With half time approaching, there was one last chance for Wesley Sneijder who could only see his 30-yard pile driver, fall into the arms of Halldorsson.

The second half began and on 49 minutes Iceland were awarded a penalty after a rash tackle by Gregory Van Der Wiel on Bjarnason, which was well worthy of a yellow card. The penalty was dispatched confidently by Sigurdsson, only for Cillessen to get a hand on it. A head in the hands moment from Robben as he watched on from the bench. The emotions were showing with Cillessen clearly frustrated with himself for not keeping it out. The Netherlands 37 game-winning streak at home was coming to an end.

The visitors nearly added a second on 53 minutes when Johann Berg Gudmundsson fired a powerful shot onto the post, no chance for Cillessen. Ten minutes later, Narsingh found Sneijder, and his 20-yard low shot found the gloves of Halldorson. Newcastle United’s new signing Georginio Wijnaldum had a similar effort shortly after, which was equally matched by the Iceland shot stopper. It was turning into a real frustrating evening for the Netherlands.

On 68 minutes, Davy Klaassen, found Narsingh only for him blaze wide from ten yards wide right.  Mid-way through the second-half, Bjarnason picked out veteran, Eidur Gudjohnson who also found Gudmundsson only to fire over from six yards out, a glorious chance wasted for the visitors to take a two-goal lead.

With only ten minutes remaining on the clock, Blind’s men were hoping to grab at least a point; Narsingh found Wijnaldum on the right who shot from eighteen yards was a conformable save and with news coming in that the Czech Republic were beating Kazakhstan in one of the other fixtures in the group, it was looking that little bit more desperate for the Netherlands.

There was one last chance for a Netherlands equaliser as Klaassen fired a cross into the Iceland box, but the cross was well defender by Skulason as Depay was ready to pounce.

The full time whistle was blown, and boos bellowed around the Amsterdam ArenA.

For the first time, 24 countries will contest the European Championship. As the host nation, France claim an automatic spot with the other 23 entrants determined by the ongoing qualifiers. The nine group winners along with nine group runners-up and the best third-placed side go directly through to the finals with the eight remaining third-placed teams will face off in two legged play-offs to determine the last four qualifiers. This looks to be the Dutch’s most realistic way of gaining qualification, however, Turkey stand in their way as they are desperate themselves to clinch the third spot, and Blind must take his men to Konya on Sunday evening to face them, in what now seems a vital game for the Oranje.


Netherlands: Cillessen; Van der Wiel, De Vrij, Martins Indi, Blind; Sneijder, Wijnaldum (Promes 80), Klaassen; Depay, Robben (Narsingh 31), Huntelaar (Bruma 40).

BOOKINGS: Van der Wiel 50, Sneijder 90+3.

SENT OFF: Martins Indi 33.

Iceland: Halldórsson; Saevarsson, Sigurdsson, Árnason, Skúlason; Bjarnason, Sigurdsson, Bödvarsson (Finnbogason 78), Gunnarsson (Skulason 87); Gudmundsson, Sigthorsson (Gudjohnsen 64).

GOALS: Sigurdsson 51P.

BOOKINGS: Sigthorsson 33, Arnason 58, Saevarsson 80.


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Euro 2016 Qualifier Preview – Netherlands vs. Iceland

The Netherlands are back in European 2016 Qualifying action and will be hoping to get back to winning ways on Thursday night when they take on Lars Lagerback and Heimir Hallgrimsson’s Group A leaders Iceland at the Amsterdam ArenA.

The 19:45 (BST) kick off will see new Dutch manager Danny Blind take to the touchline – he served as assistant to Guus Hindink who resigned on August 1st paving way for Blind to make the step up to manager.

The former international defender has had enough preparation time to prepare his squad and make the necessary changes needed to help his side succeed and progress. One of the main changes Blind has put in place was to hand the captaincy to Arjen Robben replacing vice-captain Robin Van Persie.

Blind has been impressed with Van Persie’s response to his decision stating: “I think Robben brings a lot of enthusiasm”. He added: “I was impressed with how Van Persie responded, he was very professional. For Robin, only one thing counts. He wants to go to the European Championships.”

Van Persie has since responded to the change stating: “Of course, I am disappointed but a new coach can always choose a new leader, that is his right. I’m glad I’m still second captain”.

Both sides have previously met in October 2014 when two goals from Gylfi Sigurdsson were enough to give Iceland a 2-0 victory over the Oranje. The Netherlands currently sit third with ten points in Group A having won three, drawn one and losing two of their matches. Meanwhile, Iceland have won five of their games, losing just one to the Czech Republic back in November 2014.

Iceland have a number of familiar faces in their squad, with former Ajax striker Kolbeinn Sigthorsson set to start up front, while ex-Heerenveen striker Alfred Finnbogason and former-AZ winger Johann Berg Gudmundsson are also in with a chance of playing. All will be hoping to make their mark in Thursday’s mouth watering encounter.

Iceland midfielder Emil Hallfredsson is out having picked up a muscle tear in Verona’s 2-0 defeat of Genoa earlier this week.

Blind’s son Daley is set to start at his favoured left-back position replacing the injured Jetro Willems, whilst the experienced Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Luuk De Jong are set to battle it out for a place in the starting 11.


Netherlands 4-3-3: Cillessen; Van der Wiel, Blind, De Vrij, Martins Indi; De Jong, Sneijder, Wijnaldum; Depay, Robben, Van Persie.

Iceland 4-3-2-1: Halldorsson; B Bjarnason, Skulason, Sigurdsson, Gislason; Gunnarsson, Sigurosson, T Bjarnason; Gudmundsson, Boovarsson; Sigthorsson.


Milorad Mazic (Serbia)


Netherlands 2-1 Iceland


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The Oranje… Always the bridesmaid, never the bride

If you asked a football fan who the best team to have never won a World Cup was, nearly all of them would say The Netherlands, apart from those hipsters who just seem to love Belgium. Yes, despite producing some of the best players to have ever graced the game, the men in orange have never got their hands on the golden trophy. They have managed to get to the last four twice and all the way to the final three times, so each of these times, what has gone wrong for The Oranje asks FIn Crebolder?


The first great Dutch side, and undisputedly still the greatest team to have ever donned the orange shirt. Led by Rinus Michels in the dugout and Johan Cruyff on the pitch, supported by the likes of Johan Neeskens and Ruud Krol, this team revolutionised football forever, making their way to the final playing exciting, innovative “TotaalVoetbal”. This was a style of play never seen at the top level of football before, with players interchanging positions on the ball and relentlessly pressing the opposition to win it back. Johan Cruyff summed it up perfectly many years later.

“Attackers could play as defenders and defenders as attackers. Everyone could play everywhere.”

This style of play got them excellent results, and memorable performances, such as a 2-0 win against Brazil in a crucial second round game, who tried to win through sheer force, fouling the Dutch left, right and centre, but ultimately were outplayed as Neeskens and Cruyff got the crucial goals. Before that game, they had brushed aside Argentina and East Germany 4-0 and 2-0 respectively in more beautiful performances. Even in a 0-0 game against Sweden in the first round, the Dutch still managed to entertain and innovate, as Cruyff introduced the iconic “Cruyff Turn” to the world. The neutrals loved them both on and off the pitch, and the way they revolutionised football was likened to the way that The Beatles revolutionized music, with Cruyff at the heart of it. They were undisputedly the best team at the tournament, so why didn’t they win? Well, that can be answered in one word. Complacency.

The Dutch went into the final with hosts and rivals West Germany, led by Franz Beckenbauer, as clear favourites. The match started perfectly for them, with Johan Cruyff dancing through the German team straight from kick off, and winning a penalty as he was brought down by Uli Hoeneß. Johan Neeskens coolly converted the penalty and the Dutch looked to be on their way to their first World Cup title. They continued to dominate the match, but allowed their emotions to overcome them. Many of the Dutch side had considerable hatred towards the Germans due to the German occupation of The Netherlands during the Second World War, and due to this, they decided to toy with Germany and humiliate them, instead of killing the match off. They did this for 25 minutes until Germany were awarded a penalty out of the blue after a foul by Wim Jansen. They converted the penalty and the match was level at 1-1. This gave Germany the momentum, and they got what turned out to be the winner in the 43rd minute, through Gerd Muller, with his last ever goal for Germany. The Netherlands dominated the second half, and created chances, but failed to get a goal, as key man Cruyff was contained well by the Germans, who saw out the game to win the World Cup yet again. The Dutch had the best team, the best player and the best manager in the world, but despite creating a lasting legacy and changing football forever, failed to win the tournament due to their arrogance in the final.


Despite the absence of Rinus Michels and Johan Cruyff, the side still played innovative Totaal Voetbal, and still had stars such as Neeskens, Rep, Rensenbrink and the Van de Kerkhof brothers. The tournament was full of controversy, even before a ball was kicked, with many teams, including The Netherlands, calling for a boycott of the tournament due to the political situation in host country Argentina, who were led by General Videla. Despite the tournament getting the go ahead, the best player in the world, Johan Cruyff refused to go, due to fears of kidnapping after him and his family were victims to an attempt months prior to the tournament. The Dutch struggled at first, but excelled in the second round, destroying Austria 5-1, drawing 2-2 to rivals West Germany, and comfortably beating Italy 2-1. Led by excellent performances from Rob Rensenbrink in particular, the Dutch were yet again in the final. Hosts Argentina also reached the final, but their final match of the second round was flooded in controversy. They needed a four goal win to finish ahead of Brazil and reach the final going into their final game against Peru. Peru simply rolled over and were thrashed 6-0, with many people still claiming to this day that Argentina bribed or potentially even threatened Peru. However, nothing was proven, and Argentina progressed.

Two of the tournament favourites had reached the final, and General Videla, the dictator of Argentina, was desperate for an Argentine victory, believing it would show the nation in a more favourable light, after the events of the ‘Dirty War’. Argentina delayed kick off, complaining about a cast that Rene Van de Kerkhof had been allowed to wear throughout the tournament. The referee, perhaps intimidated by the 80,000 Argentine fans, forced the Dutchman to apply extra bandage. On the pitch, Argentina started well and deservedly took the lead through star man Kempes in the 38th minute. In the second half, the Dutch upped their game and through excellent performances by Rep and Rensenbrink, began to dominate, but were constantly denied by Argentine keeper Ubaldo Fillol, who played excellently. The Oranje eventually got their equaliser in the 82nd minute through Nanninga, and were quite literally an inch away from winning it when Rensenbrink struck the post with mere seconds left on the clock. Rensenbrink later said:

“If the trajectory of my shot had been five centimetres different, we would have been world champions. On top of that, I would have been crowned top scorer and perhaps chosen as the best player of the tournament – all in the same match. That’s why I keep things in perspective.”

The match went to extra time, and a rejuvenated Argentina took the lead in the 105th minute, again through Kempes. The Dutch then went for it, which resulted in Argentina scoring a third on the counter-attack in the 115th minute. This Dutch side still played excellent football, but were not quite as strong as in 1974 and could not prevent the host nation Argentina, who were surrounded by controversy, from winning a World Cup that they desperately wanted.


Well, we had to get here eventually… Being born in 1998, this is my worst footballing memory by a long, long way. I still believe that a part of me died when THAT goal went in. But more on that later.

Going into the 2010 World Cup, the Netherlands had a relatively average squad by their standards, and were not considered by many as major contenders. However, with the perfect mix of brains (Wesley Sneijder) and brawn (Nigel de Jong and Mark Van Bommel), along with excellent performances from Dirk Kuyt, Arjen Robben and veteran Giovanni Van Bronckhorst, the Dutch charged to their 3rd World Cup final. Throughout the tournament, the Dutch functioned excellently as a team, rather than a group of talented individuals, beating favourites Brazil on their way to the final. In the final, they would meet reigning European champions Spain, a side whose style of play was brought to the country by Dutch legend, Johan Cruyff. So, the two products of one of the greatest minds in football were to meet in the Final. It would be a beautiful game, right? Wrong. Arjen Robben outlined the Dutch approach a day before the final.

“I prefer a very ugly game that we win to a beautiful game that we lose.”

The whole Dutch squad had adopted a mentality that results were the most important thing in football, something that hugely differed from the beliefs of the Dutch sides of the 1970’s. However, it was sadly not enough. The final itself was a feisty affair, with the Dutch being the dirtier of the two sides, although the Spanish were not blameless. Straight from kick off, the Dutch pressed the Spanish aggressively, attempting to disrupt Spain’s tiki-taka.

Despite all the criticism that was given towards The Netherlands for this, and perhaps rightly so, the simple fact is, that it worked. Spain struggled to create openings and the Dutch still posed a threat themselves. In fact, over 90 minutes, the two best chances of the game were both presented to Arjen Robben. The first was courtesy of an exquisite through ball by Sneijder, which sent Robben racing through on goal, clear of any defenders. Robben managed to send Casillas the wrong way, but the Spanish keeper stuck out his leg, and got a touch on the ball with his toe, sending it wide. Robben was then again sent through on goal with ten minutes remaining by a Van Persie flick on, and after racing past Carlos Puyol, the Spanish defender, already on a yellow, desperately pulled Robben back. Robben decided to stay on his feet, but the damage was already done and Casillas reached the ball before him, whilst Puyol somehow escaped a caution.

After 90 minutes, the game was locked at 0-0. Going into extra-time, the Dutch were exhausted after 90 minutes of excessive pressing and chasing the ball. Eventually, the Oranje defence was outnumbered by Spain after Heitinga was sent off, and in the 116th minute, Iniesta dealt the killer blow, volleying in superbly, as Van der Vaart desperately tried to make a block. The fact is that this Dutch side was not one of the greatest in footballing terms, but through teamwork, resilience and a few flair players, they managed to reach the final, something that few people thought they could do before the tournament. This Spanish side was one of the greatest national teams of all time, and the fact that the Dutch went toe to toe (and foot to chest…) with them for 116 minutes emphasised their strength as a unit.

So, although the Oranje have been quite literally inches away from winning the trophy at times, the fact is that the teams of the 1970’s possessed the technique but not the mentality, whilst in 2010 they had an excellent mentality but could not match the technique of a historic team. To finally get the golden star above their crest, the Dutch will need a team that possesses both these traits. Sooner rather than later, this huge footballing nation will surely build a team to do so, and finally get their name etched onto the hallowed trophy. Roll on 2018.


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Tactical Analysis: The Netherlands different options

Total football, an attacking, exciting, possession based style of play. The Dutch were renowned for playing like this for many years, since Johan Cruyff and Rinus Michels introduced it in the 1970’s, and have gained many plaudits for it. However, in more recent major tournaments, the Oranje have moved away from this style. Since 2008 the Dutch played a more direct 4-2-3-1, before implementing a 5-3-2 in the 2014 World Cup. Louis Van Gaal did play a Dutch 4-3-3 in the qualifying process but decided that the injury of Kevin Strootman left the team unbalanced, and thus decided to put 5 at the back to accommodate for this. Since Guus Hiddink has taken over he has played three different formations, with each of them failing to bring a huge amount of success, up until the 6-0 drubbing of Latvia. So, with a fully fit squad, which tactics could the Dutch implement? Fin Crebolder investigates…



The bread and butter of Dutch football. Nearly every Dutch manager will look to play 4-3-3 at their club or country if they can. Based on the total football of the 70’s, it focuses on fast attacking football whilst also prioritising possession. However, as already stated, the Netherlands have stopped playing this style of play, although Van Gaal did use it in the qualifiers for the World Cup. When Hiddink was announced to be the successor to Van Gaal, he said that he intended to bring back “the Dutch school” style of football, and has tried to play a 4-3-3 in the majority of games. The Dutch have dominated possession in most of their games, but have often struggled to find an end product, and also look shaky in defence. However, 4-3-3 is a formation that is at the heart of Dutch football, and will always be an option for the Oranje.



4-4-2. Not a formation hugely associated with Dutch football, despite the number of world class strikers that the nation has produced. Since 2010, the two Dutch managers have both refused on playing two out and out strikers, therefore meaning that Klaas-Jan Huntelaar has had to play second fiddle to Robin van Persie for the last four years. The main advantage of playing a 4-4-2 is that it enables the team to field both Huntelaar and Van Persie, with Van Persie operating as a second striker behind Huntelaar, meaning it sometimes changes to a 4-4-1-1 formation. Fielding two strikers also allows for the inform Bas Dost to play alongside one of Van Persie and Huntelaar. In attack, the wingers and full backs bomb forward, with Blind dropping between the two centre backs, thus changing it to a 3-3-4 formation. The main problem with this formation is that, with only two central midfielders, it leaves the team at risk of being overrun in the midfield, leaving the defence exposed. Despite this, it is a flexible formation that enables Hiddink to utilise all his best players.



The Dutch never utilised a 5 man defence in their history, up until the 2014 World Cup. Van Gaal had played a classic 4-3-3 in the qualifying process, but felt that the untimely injury to Kevin Strootman left the team too unbalanced, after seeing them be torn apart by France in his absence. After the match, he spoke to Robin Van Persie and Arjen Robben, and decided to change to a 5 man defence. This worked excellently, and got The Netherlands to the World Cup semi-finals, when pre-tournament, most doubted that they would even escape the group stages. Arjen Robben excelled in his role as a striker, and almost single handedly destroyed Spain with his excellent pace, dribbling and shooting. Ron Vlaar thrived in a 5 man defence, and Daley Blind was brilliant at wing-back. However, Hiddink has proved reluctant to use this formation, only playing it once, in the first half of the Euro qualifier against Czech Republic. Despite it proving the be successful during the World Cup, it was just a short term fix, and most Dutch managers are unlikely to play it, due to the fact that it goes against the fundamental beliefs of how Dutch football should be played.


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EURO 2016 QUALIFIER: Czech Rep 2-1 Netherlands



Dire Defending from the Dutch costs them as Guus Hiddink’s first game ends in defeat and the Dutch lose a qualification game for the first time in nearly three years reports Ryan O’Grady.

The Road to France starts here and even though the Dutch are favourites to progress from their qualification group it won’t be straightforward. In their group they face tough games against teams like Turkey, Iceland and tonight’s opponents the Czech Republic. Turkey will be a tough opponent with players such as Arda Turan, Hakan Çalhanoğlu and even Nuri Şahin if he can recover from his injuries. Iceland will also be tough opponents as they only just missed out on this year’s World Cup after losing their play-off to Croatia and have dangerous players like Gylfi Sigurdsson and Alfred Finnbogason. The rest of the group is made up by Latvia and Kazakhstan where the Dutch should definitely pick up maximum points.

Tonight’s opponents are no walkovers either having qualified for the last Euros in 2012 but they are in something of a rebuild and haven’t recorded a victory in their last 4 games under their new coach Pavel Vrba. The Dutch are coming off the back of a very positive World Cup where they surpassed their own expectations but this positivity has been somewhat dampened by their recent loss to Italy where they were completely outclassed and didn’t record a single shot on target. That game was Hiddink’s first in his second spell as national team manager and saw him use a back four. Today’s game however saw the Dutch start with three centre-backs and two wingbacks, a system used under previous manager Louis van Gaal.

The opening 10 minutes of this game saw the Czech showing the Dutch players respect as they sat back not wanting to get caught out and as a result there were no chances in the opening period. However after the first 10 minutes the Czech Republic came out of their shell and were more forthcoming in attack. First Krejci had a decent cross into the box cleared well by Nigel de Jong for a corner. The Czechs took it short and worked it well and eventually the ball fell to Darida inside the box and his shot was blocked for a corner. Memphis Depay was by far the Netherlands’ best player in the first half and in the 14th minute he wiggled his way past a couple of defenders before giving the ball out to Daryl Janmaat on the right wing before the Newcastle defender crossed it for Robin van Persie and his flicked shot was deflected behind for a corner that came to nothing. Czech striker David Lafata appeared to suffer a serious head injury when he was caught on the jaw by an accidental knee from Stefan de Vrij. He went on to recover and was heavily involved in the next passage of play that resulted in a goal for the Czech Republic. Lafata received the ball inside the box with his back to goal and had Bruno Martins Indi behind him. His first touch was brilliant and with his second touch he laid the ball off to Bořek Dočkal who struck it beautifully first time and it hit the inside of the post before just sneaking inside the other post in the 21st minute. The Dutch had a really good chance to reply only 4 minutes later when Daley Blind supplied a sublime cross into the box that Georginio Wijnaldum ran onto but the bounce was a bit high and the PSV midfielder could only put it over with an outstretched leg. The Czech Republic had clearly worked on set-pieces on the training ground as nearly every single one caught out the Dutch defence, in the 30th minute they had a free kick that was played across the edge of the box and Darida allowed the ball to run through his legs before Limberský followed up with a shot that looked good but was blocked inside the box. The Dutch then had another guilt-edged chance to equalise only a minute later as Janmaat put in a low cross that van Persie looked like he was going to hit but then for some reason he left and it clearly surprised Petr Čech but he managed to stick a leg out and clear it although it wasn’t heading in. Hiddink clearly wasn’t happy with the way things were panning out and in the 38th minute he brought off Joel Veltman for Luciano Narsingh to revert back to a traditional 4-3-3 employed in the previous game against Italy.  Depay then had a brilliant shot from distance that was destined for the corner of the net before Čech pushed it over. Substitute Narsingh also had a late chance in the half as he received the ball in the 6-yard box but it was at an awkward height and he couldn’t get any power on his shot and it was easily cleared.

The Dutch came out in the second half much the better side and in the 52nd minute Wesley Sneijder put through Depay with a wonderful ball but centre back Provcházka recovered well and won a goal kick for his side. Only 2 minutes later the Dutch equalised, an initial Dutch corner was half dealt with by the defence but Blind reintroduced the ball and De Vrij rose above the defence and sent a header across goal into the corner of the net. The Czechs then had another decent free kick, this the ball landed in the box and it looked like Provcházka was going to hit before Martins Indi recovered and put him off. For the next 10 minutes or so the only notable occurrences were substitutions from the Czech Republic. The Dutch had a great chance in the 78th minute to go ahead when Narsingh put in a lofted ball that Depay got his head to but it was easily saved by Čech because rather than putting any power behind his header, Depay appeared to just let the ball bounce off his head. This miss was almost punished from another set-piece from the Czech Republic, this time a short corner was put in by Darida and Kaderabek headed it on before Provcházka put it over from about 1 yard out with his header. This miss didn’t cost his side dearly however because at the beginning of stoppage time Limberský put in a cross that Janmaat attempted to head back to Cillessen but instead hit his own post before coming back across the goal behind the diving Cillessen and allowed substitute Pilař to snatch victory right at the death.


Czech Republic: Čech, Provcházka, Kadlec, Limberský, Rosický, Vácha (Kolář 81’), Dočkal (Pilař 66’), Krejci, Darida, Kaderabek, Lafata (Vydra 72’)

Goals: Dočkal 21’, Pilař 90+1’

Bookings: Provcházka 8’, Limberský 90+3’

Netherlands: Cillessen, Janmaat, Veltman (Narsingh 38’), de Vrij, Martins Indi, Sneijder, de Jong, Wijnaldum, Blind, van Persie, Depay

Goals: De Vrij 55’

Bookings: Martins Indi 71’


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FRIENDLY: Italy 2-0 Netherlands



A commanding performance from Italy rendered the Dutch attack useless, as they didn’t manage a single shot on target on Guus Hiddink’s return. Two goals in the first half allowed Italy to sit back in the second half and control the game writes Ryan O’Grady.

Tonight’s game at the Stadio Comunale San Nicola in Bari was the first for both teams since the World Cup and saw the coming together of two new managers in Antonio Conte for Italy and Guus Hiddink for the Netherlands, although in Hiddink’s case he has managed the Netherlands before from 1994 to 1998. Italy had a poor World Cup despite winning their first game; they lost to Costa Rica and Ururguay meaning they didn’t get out of the group. The Netherlands on the other hand did much better than expected; playing brilliant football and making it it all the way to the semi-finals before winning the 3rd place playoff with a young team that looks promising for the future.

Italy started the game on fire scoring after only 2 minutes when a long ball from Leonardo Bonucci went straight down the middle of the pitch and Bruno Martins Indi, who has started the season so well with FC Porto, fell asleep for a split second which allowed Immobile to race onto the ball and round the oncoming Jasper Cillessen before coolly slotting home. Italy continued this domination, only a few minutes later right-back Matteo Darmian put in a decent cross that seemed destined for Simone Zaza before Martins Indi cleared. Martins Indi was then caught out again in the 8th minute when Zaza was put through before Martins Indi came across the back of him and brought him down resulting in a penalty and a red card for Martins Indi. The penalty was rolled into the corner of the net by Daniele De Rossi to keep up Jasper Cillessen’s record of never saving a penalty in his professional career. Italy completely controlled the first half and repeatedly their three centre-backs were on the halfway line and there were no worries that the Dutch would counter attack as they barely touched the ball for the whole half, their only effort was a half chance for Wesley Sneijder on the edge of the box. Due to the red card winger Jeremain Lens was brought off in the 11th minute for centre-back Joel Veltman to try and secure the defence. In the first half the Dutch ball retention was very poor and in the 19th minute they gave it away again allowing Immobile to break clear before unselfishly laying it off to Zaza who had a shot but it was brilliantly saved by Cillessen. There was a slight lull in the game for the next 10 minutes where the Italians controlled the ball and didn’t let the Dutch anywhere near it. In the 30th minute Zaza received the ball on the edge of the box and with his chest laid it off beautifully for Immobile but the bounce was slightly too high and he put it over. The rest of the half was just filled with Italian half chances including a long-range effort from left-back Mattia De Sciglio that was easily saved by Cillessen.

The second started off with a decent chance for the Netherlands, first a long ball was headed away by Andrea Ranocchia but it only went as far as Daley Blind who immediately headed it into the path of Robin Van Persie in the box but his first time shot was just past the post. Then Sneijder had a long range shot that was going wide and should’ve been easily picked up by Sirigu but he spilt it although no one was following up which meant that he could recover the ball. This was followed by an absolute thunderbolt of a shot from Bonucci from just outside the centre circle that was on target but Cillessen collected it easily enough. It was 10 minutes before either side had another chance due to the game being broken up for multiple substitutions. In the 65th minute Cillessen received the ball under no pressure but dallied on it encouraging Immobile to run towards him from the side, Cillessen tried a drag back which Immobile seemed to be the favourite for but then Cillessen fell over and won a free kick and replays showed there wasn’t a lot of contact between the two players. There was another weird moment in the 71st minute when Veltman fell to the ground off the ball and claimed he was elbowed in the chest but replays showed barely any contact at all and that Veltman was exaggerating. The final decent chance in the game came just before the 80th minute when substitute Mattia Destro passed the ball out to fellow substitute Manuel Pasqual who crossed the ball back into Destro who had made a run into the box but unfortunately the ball was just too high and the young striker could only head it over.


Italy: Sirigu, Bonucci, Darmian (Candreva 72’), Ranocchia, Astori, De Sciglio (Pasqual 67’), De Rossi (Parolo 67’), Marchisio (Veratti 63’), Giaccherini, Immobile (Giovinco 77’), Zaza (Destro 73’)

Goals: Immobile 2’, De Rossi (Pen 10’)

Bookings: Veratti 74’

Netherlands: Cillessen, Janmaat (van der Wiel 72’), de Vrij, Martins Indi, de Jong (Pieters 63’), Wijnaldum (Fer 86’), Blind, Kuyt, van Persie (Narsingh 80’), Lens (Veltman 12’)

Goals: None

Bookings: None

Red Cards: Martins Indi 9’


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Hiddink returns as Oranje head coach

Guus Hiddink was introduced today as the new Netherlands coach to lead Oranje into the European Championship 2016 qualifiers. The 67-year-old has vowed that he will compile a team that will play “attractive but practical football” writes Will Burns.

New Oranje head coach Hiddink (centre) poses with assistants van Nistelrooy (right) and Blind (left).

Hiddink has already had a spell as head coach of his country in 1995 for a three-year tenure and is well coveted inside the Netherlands. He led PSV Eindhoven to a record-breaking six Eredivisie championships and four KNVB Bekers but, perhaps his greatest achievement, was taking underdogs South Korea, to a last four finish in their own backyard at the 1998 World Cup finals.

Hiddink has been named to replace Louis van Gaal earlier this year as Van Gaal had stated he wished to return to club management and later accepted the manager’s job at Manchester United. Hiddink has large shoes to fill as Van Gaal himself pulled off a great World Cup feat himself this summer, leading Oranje to third place and bronze medal in Brazil.

As the KNVB unveiled Hiddink, he said at the press conference: “First and foremost, bravo to the team, both the players and the technical staff who worked under Louis van Gaal.” He added: “There will not be many changes, I felt great enthusiasm on starting my first official day of work today.”.

Hiddink stated that he wished to keep faith in the ‘Dutch school’ while also hoping to maintain the “instinct of survival” that Van Gaal had established inside the team.

Hiddink has been out of coaching work since leaving Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala in July last year, but at the end of last season acted as a consultant for Philip Cocu at PSV.

The deal Hiddink has signed with the KNVB runs through to the end of the 2016 European Championships in France, after which he will be replaced by current assistant Danny Blind. His other assistant will be former Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy.


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Van Gaal and the Dutch end on a high


“We can look back at a very successful tournament, I’m proud of my players.” – Louis Van Gaal, Netherlands Coach

The Oranje’s unforeseen successful campaign ended last night with a dominating 3-0 victory over hosts Brazil. At the end of the game, the Brazilian fans loudly greeted the Dutch players after they received the third-place medals, applauding on their feet, while their team, Brazil got booed off.

Van Gaal has done a wonderful job and lead this unfancied Dutch side to a World Cup campaign that saw them undefeated throughout, having only lost to Argentina on penalties in the semis. After finishing second in 2010, the third place is the best position for the Netherlands since their runner-up medals in 1974 and 1978. The Brazilians had records of their own, conceding 14 goals in the tournament, the most ever for the team. In addition, tonight’s defeat was the first time since 1940 that Brazil lost two consecutive competitive games on home soil.

Van Gaal’s men got off to a dream start when Brazil captain Thiago Silva pulled down a sprinting Arjen Robben in the area after just 90 seconds of play. Robin Van Persie superbly converted the spot-kick. Within 16 minutes it was two.

Ajax left-back Daley Blind capitalised on defender David Luiz’s poor headed clearance and Blind had time to set himself up perfectly to fire home. It was another example of schoolboy defending from the Brazilians, which had been horribly unveiled against the Germans on Tuesday.

After some good work from Feyenoord right-back Daryl Janmaat, PSV attacking midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum completed the win in stoppage time.

This was a fitting end to the tenure of Louis van Gaal who now leaves for Manchester United. While Guus Hiddink will now be ready to hop into the Dutch hotseat, ahead of the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.

For the future of Brazil coach Luis Felipe Scolari and his players is unknown.


BRAZIL: Julio Cesar, Maicon, Maxwell, Luis Gustavo (Fernandinho 46), Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Ramires (Hulk 73), Paulinho (Hernanes 57), Oscar, Willian, Jo.

GOALS: None.

BOOKINGS: Thiago Silva 2, Fernandinho 54, Oscar 68.

NETHERLANDS: Cillessen (Vorm 90+1), Kuyt, Blind (Janmaat 70), De Vrij, Martins Indi, Vlaar, De Guzman, Clasie (Veltman 90), Wijnaldum, Robben, Van Persie.

GOALS: Van Persie 3P, Blind 16, Wijnaldum 90.

BOOKINGS: Robben 9, De Guzman 36.


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Argentina progress as Dutch draw blanks in shootout


Argentina win 4-2 on penalties

In a major contrast to last night’s semi-final, with only two shots on target in the whole game on 90 minutes, this one was hardly the classic that many predicted. It was a tense, cautious affair with both teams to looking not to gift the opposition a chance at goal.

The Dutch played the majority of the game in a 6-3-1 formation and kept themselves disciplined, an obvious attempt to keep Lionel Messi quiet, and it worked a treat. The man of the match was undoubtedly Aston Villa defender Ron Vlaar, especially for his efforts with Messi. Every time Messi looked to weave some magic and create an opening, the big Dutchman was there to slam the door shut, sticking a leg out and clearing the ball. The Barcelona megastar looked frustrated and a bit lost to say the least. It was a tremendous performance throughout for Vlaar, who has had an excellent tournament when many pundits wrote him off before a ball was kicked.

Another star was once again the veteran of the Dutch side, 33-year old Dirk Kuyt. He started the game at right wing-back, then was moved over to the left and for the 120 minutes he ran himself into the ground like a 20-year old would. Another man, who has had an excellent tournament and proved that he could still do a job for one of Europe’s elite teams for his versatility alone.

With 15 minutes of play remaining, Gonzalo Higuaín had an excellent chance. The impressive Enzo Perez found space on the right and bent in a lovely early ball, Higuaín beat the offside trap and got across Stefan De Vrij but stabbed the ball into the side-netting.

The Oranje’s best chance came late on of normal time – Arjen Robben suddenly found himself through on goal, but he took one touch too much and gave Javier Mascherano the chance to get across and make a brilliant block once Robben got the shot off.

Robben's last-ditch chance is snuffed out by Mascherano.

The extra time began with more of the same, neither side willing to open the game up and attack with any get risk. Inside the second half of the additional time, Argentina started to press. Rodrigo Palacio found himself with a golden opportunity, but after Messi played a perfect lofting ball into the area, the Inter striker nodded the ball straight into Jasper Cillessen’s hands. Moments later, Maxi Rodriguez should have done better with a half volley at the back post but failed to connect properly to threaten the Dutch goal.

The star of the game, Vlaar bravely stepped up for the first penalty but smashing down the middle did not work and Sergio Aguero easily stopped. This put immense pressure on Cillessen and in a massive contrast, first up for the Argentine’s was Messi who dispatched his spot kick past the youngster with ease. The penalties continued where Robben scored while Romero pulled off a great save from Sneijder next. Dirk Kuyt needed to score and did, but with the Argentines not missing a penalty Maxi Rodriguez stepped up for number four and blasted past Cillessen, who should have done better.

The Dutch are out, Argentina head to Rio to face Germany on Sunday for all the spoils.


NETHERLANDS: Cillessen, Kuyt, Blind, Vlaar, De Vrij, Martins Indi (Janmaat 46), De Jong (Clasie 62), Wijnaldum, Sneijder, Robben, Van Persie (Huntelaar 96).

GOALS: None.

BOOKINGS: Martins Indi 45, Huntelaar 105.

ARGENTINA: Romero, Zabaleta, Demichelis, Garay, Rojo, Biglia, Mascherano, Pérez (Palacio 81), Lavezzi (Rodriguez 101), Messi, Higuaín (Aguero 82).

GOALS: None.

BOOKINGS: Demichelis 49.


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WORLD CUP: Netherlands vs. Argentina Preview

The characteristics of the second semi-final of the 2014 World Cup are eerily similar to that of the first. On one hand, you have a team bouyed by the brilliance of a Barcelona superstar, with an overpowering support due to the geographical location of the tournament, a somewhat suspect defense and plenty of questions left unanswered after the group stage, last 16 and quarter-final matches. On the other hand you have a European team based on systems, formations and tactics, with a rotating cast of characters that are slotted in and taken out to fit requirements, with technical brilliance coming out of their ears.

You don’t get any medals for being able to establish what team falls into what category. Argentina will be relying on the individual brilliance that is Lionel Messi and the possibility of him not showing up, or the more possible eventuality that van Gaal figures out how to close him out of the game, is a scary one for Argentinian fans and players.

The Netherlands will be looking to the sideline and what Louis van Gaal can muster up to defeat their South American opponents. While Arjen Robben has been immense from the first game against Spain, Louis van Gaal has been stealing the spotlight for the entirety of the competition and the signs point towards that happening yet again on the field in Sao Paulo.

While many expected last night to be a war of attrition, it ended up to be the exact opposite but you can expect tonight’s game to be the battle that we have bee waiting for. The longer the game goes without a goal, the likelier it is that a mazy dribble by Messi will decide it.

A lot is riding on the availability of Nigel de Jong and should he be able to play, a man-marking job on Lionel Messi is exactly what can be expected from the A.C Milan midfielder. Louis van Gaal has made it no secret that he has a plan for Lionel Messi and it will be difficult to bet against the Dutch manager, given his ability to develop and coach a fully functional system.

Argentina don’t score many goals on the counter, but they do spend quite a large percentage of time in the attacking third of the field, so it is a matter of van Gaal making sure his defense is structurally solid as opposed to being good in transition. The Dutch have been solid throughout the World Cup and, as stated, if De Jong can play, this will be the deciding of the match.

As for de Jong’s replacement? Daley Blind is a possibility but his lack of pace might be shown up, De Guzman may not have the quality to live with Lionel Messi, Jordy Clasie is a poor tackler and might have to do a lot of it against the little maestro. As the saying goes, only time will tell as to how van Gaal is thinking.

Ron Vlaar is doubtful with a knee injury, but the beauty of van Gaal’s system is that it is similar to a “plug-and-play” device. The fact that Vlaar has been so good is the fact that van Gaal’s philosophy is based on the whole being better than the sum of it’s parts. This injury concern could be just another way for van Gaal to show of his tactical nuance on one of the biggest stages in World Football.

Robin van Persie’s availability is also in question (stomach and intestinal issues) and, if he is available, would be a good bet to score first against the Argentines. He has not scored in the knockout stages and could break the tie open with a goal against a questionably porous Argentinian defense. The Argentinians tend to concede more shots than they might like and a player with Van Persie’s finishing could capitalise on that kind of statistic. Van Persie is the captain of the side and van Gaal’s leader on the field. He has a stomach issue and did not train with the squad on Tuesday.

The Netherlands also like to exploit the wings and, in the absence of Angel di Maria, will certainly create chances from these positions, particularly on the right hand side with Kuyt there to allow Robben the freedom he has enjoyed so much throughout the tournament.

If the Netherlands can get their tactics right, it could end up being another beating for the South Americans, but don’t expect a hammering like last night. A 3-1 victory for the Dutch is, however, possible given their solidity at the back and quality in attack.

BET VICTOR are offering a massive 35/1 for a Dutch 3-1 – click here to sign up to a new account and take advantage of up to £25 in free bets.


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De Jong to return for Van Gaal?

While Louis van Gaal has never needed much of an excuse to tinker with his formations and personnel, we are sure that he would prefer to have a full compliment of players available when he is picking his team heading into their World Cup semi-final against Argentina on Wednesday.

The good news on that front for van Gaal is that Nigel de Jong might have recovered in time from the groin injury that kept him out of the quarter-final clash with Costa Rica – a game that they subsequently won on penalties.

Early in the Netherlands last 16 meeting with Mexico, de Jong went down with a groin injury and the worst was feared. The initial recovery time was two to four weeks and the semi-final will only be 10 days since the original injury, so to say the chances are slim would be an understatement. But the fact that there is even a chance is a testament to the player and his commitment to playing for his country. That initial recovery time would have been enough to rule him out of the entire World Cup but the A.C Milan midfielder said recently that, “We will see, I will do everything in my possibility to start this game as it is only one game to the final.”

Having decided to stay with his teammates for nothing more than moral support, it is believed that his recovery is moving a lot quicker than expected.

The Dutch boss was forced to switch to a 3-4-3 against Costa Rica with two things being taken into consideration. The fact that he didn’t have as many midfield options as he might have liked, and the extra attacker might yield more against weaker opposition.

Georginio Wijnaldum and Wesley Sneijder played in midfield with Memphis Depay starting up front in the modified line-up but against Costa Rica. Against Argentina, however, a player like de Jong will be needed to curb any influence that Lionel Messi might have on the game and will more than likely man-mark him if that is the tactic that Van Gaal chooses to deploy as opposed to a more zonal based defensive setup. Pushing attacking threats deeper and deeper and away from goal is something that Nigel de Jong has carved a career for himself doing.

De Jong, who many feel didn’t paint himself in glory during the 2010 World Cup final with his infamous high tackle on Xabi Alonso, is eager to make it back to the same juncture of the competition with a different outcome this time.

De Jong has had somewhat of a resurgence during the World Cup and is now linked with a move back to England and Manchester, this time to the red half of the city. He played in all three of the Netherlands’ group games and was unlucky to have pulled up so early against Mexico but a possible return against Argentina would defeat all odds.


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