Tag Archives: Oranje

The Ideological Problems in Dutch Football

So, just over a year after finishing third at the World Cup in Brazil, the Dutch national side have failed to even make the play offs for Euro 2016, finishing ahead of only Latvia and Kazakhstan in their group.

The team have been a shambles ever since Guus Hiddink took over from Louis Van Gaal after the World Cup in the summer of 2014, and changed from Van Gaal’s 5-3-2 to a “traditional Dutch” 4-3-3.

Things arguably got even worse when he was replaced by Danny Blind, who managed to take the side out of the play off places, giving them no chance whatsoever of qualification. Despite the constant mistakes throughout the qualification campaign, both managers as well as the KNVB insisted that the Dutch have to play attractive, attacking football, and this has led to the national team’s demise writes Fin Crebolder.

The Netherlands’ two best World Cup performances since the ‘Totaal Voetbal’ side of the 70’s have come in 2010 and 2014. The Oranje finished second and third respectively at these World Cups, and it’s no coincidence that the two most successful teams the nation has seen in a very long time both did achieved this by taking a more pragmatic approach in terms of style. It’s no secret that at both of these tournaments, the Oranje squad was not particularly strong, and both Bert van Marwijk and Van Gaal acknowledged and addressed this.

In 2010, Van Marwijk set his team up in a structured 4-2-3-1, with Nigel de Jong and Mark van Bommel sitting in front of and protecting a relatively weak backline, never venturing forward and allowing Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben to work their magic going forward.

This was very effective, but not hugely popular in The Netherlands, with many complaining about the aggressive style of Van Bommel and De Jong, who committed many fouls, particularly in the final against Spain.

Due to the unpopularity of the style, the KNVB requested that Van Marwijk played more attractive football, and in an attempt to do so, the World Cup runners up crashed out in the group stages of Euro 2012, although other factors also caused this.

In 2014, promising midfielder Kevin Strootman was ruled out of the World Cup finals through injury and Van Gaal, seeing that his absence left the midfield too unbalanced and the defence too unprotected, changed from a 4-3-3 to a counter-attacking 5-3-2 for the World Cup, adding an extra centre back to the defence and putting Arjen Robben up front with Van Persie.

This proved highly successful, with the formation producing a stunning 5-1 victory over Spain in the opening game. Although the team were never quite as scintillating again, they managed to finish 3rd due to Arjen Robben’s quite incredible form and some more excellent tactical decisions by Van Gaal. However, the KNVB clearly weren’t satisfied by this style of play, and chose Guus Hiddink over the excellent Ronald Koeman to replace Van Gaal as the former vowed to make the team play the “Dutch school” style of football again. The rest is history.

Whilst these pragmatic approaches did have their drawbacks, such as the current generation gap being created partly due to Van Marwijk’s approach that failed to introduce youngsters into the national team, the fact is that they created two of the most successful Dutch teams ever. However, the KNVB have managed to neglect this completely and continue to insist on the national team playing a traditional and Dutch attacking 4-3-3.

This insistence stems from fond memories of the Dutch side of the 70’s, with Rinus Michels and Johan Cruyff revolutionising Dutch football and creating a legacy and style that both clubs in Holland and the national team strive to follow. It’s all well and good sticking to your nation’s traditional philosophy by trying to play beautiful football, but the current squad are not good enough to do this and still get results. In their (rather depressing) attempts to play Totaal Voetbal, they have instead achieved totaal failure.

There is an age old question in football; What is better, a beautiful loss or an ugly victory? The Dutch have traditionally preferred the latter, and whilst I agree with this, with the current squad the Dutch have two options: An ugly loss or an ugly win? That’s a no brainer right? Bruno Martins-Indi is not the next Ronald Koeman, Gini Wijnaldum is not the next Clarence Seedorf and Bas Dost is, and I can’t emphasise this enough, most definitely NOT the next Marco Van Basten. Yes, this is a shame, but the nation needs to accept it and accept that compromises must be made to find a way to be successful with this squad. As a matter of fact, Louis Van Gaal has already found a way to be successful with it, and the KNVB rejected the man who could continue and build on this success, in Ronald Koeman.

The Dutch need to stop living in the past and allow the 1970’s to be a beautiful memory for the time being. Ajax have retired the iconic number 14 of Johan Cruyff rather than run the risk of Yaya Sanogo playing in it.

Most filmmakers do not write a sequel to a truly great movie, instead leaving it be for the world to re-watch and enjoy. Artists don’t attempt to re-paint the Mona Lisa and risk tainting a great and iconic image, but instead simply admire it’s beauty.

I love Totaal Voetbal as much as the next Dutch fan, and I have no doubt that it’ll one day return in all it’s glory, but until then, we must compromise, make do with what is available to us, and wait for that fateful day.


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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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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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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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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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Van Gaal explains Krul and Cillessen switch

For any other manager and it would be classed as a bizarre gamble but not Louis van Gaal.

Last night, with the game producing no goals and entering stoppage time at the end of extra time, Van Gaal replaced first choice goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen with substitute goalkeeper Tim Krul. The decision proved to be a tactical master stroke as Krul went on to save spot-kicks from Bryan Ruiz and Michael Umana to secure the Netherlands a 4-3 penalty shootout victory and a semi-final clash on Wednesday night against Argentina in Sao Paulo.

Van Gaal stated after the match that Cillessen was not aware of the possible substitution because he did not want to “ruin the preparation” of the Ajax stopper.

“Thankfully it worked out because otherwise I’d have made the wrong tactical change.”


Cillessen has made no mistakes for the Dutch so far and even made a decisive last gasp save to prevent the Costa Ricans from snatching the victory last night. However out of the four goals that Cillessen has conceded in the tournament, two of which have been penalty kicks. After weighing up this and Newcastle’s Tim Krul impressing at the training camp, the Manchester United manager made the huge decision to exchange them with seconds of  extra-time remaining.

Proud of his actions, the Oranje coach said: “We found that among our three goalkeepers that Krul was the best at saving penalties because he has a longer reach. So we studied the Costa Rican penalties and you can see that Krul guessed the right way every time. I am really pleased that the decision paid off.”

Although, for the first time this tournament, we did see some unrest in the Dutch camp with the substitution decision. Once taken off, many witnessed Cillessen booting water bottles on the touchline and had to be consoled by team-mates. Watching from the sideline, it did not take long for Cillessen to get over his disappointment of being substituted as raced on the pitch and punched the air in celebration once Krul has performed his heroics.

The decision was a huge risk but the more intimidating Krul seemed to upset the Costa Ricans before each penalty was taken. In a true example of gamesmanship, the Newcastle keeper would talk to each player before they lined up their shot, and proceeded to jump up and down on the line to make himself fill out the goalmouth.

It worked a treat as Krul looked super confident during the shootout, saving the second and fifth penalties. Afterwards, Krul stated that is he was delighted with his role.

Krul, talking to De Telegraaf, stated “Tonight I have realised a dream and what I experienced out there is an incredible emotion. The coach had warned me it may happen and I was fully prepared, as I knew that I may have had this opportunity.”

Van Gaal has announced, although he was thrilled with Krul’s shootout performance, Cillessen would keep his place in the starting line-up. “There is no question about who will start next game, it will be Cillessen.”


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Van Gaal’s gamble is Krul on Costa Rica


Netherlands win 4-3 on penalties

Keylor Navas was the star of the show, making a string of saves keeping the Dutch at bay in a groundhog day type match for the Oranje. However, Tim Krul proved to steal the headlines after another ballsy move from Louis van Gaal paid off, and the Dutch will face Argentina next Wednesday in the semi-finals.

With a versatile squad at his disposal, Louis van Gaal again rang the changes as Oranje lined up to play the Costa Ricans tonight. We saw the return of Bruno Martins Indi for the first time since suffering a concussion against Australia in the group stages. Young PSV prodigy Memphis Depay joined the starting line-up as Dirk Kuyt moved into right-wing back with Daley Blind sitting on the left.

Although the Dutch enjoyed the majority of the possession early on, they failed to break down the hard-working Costa Rica. Jorge Luis Pinto noticed this and made a tweak, pushing Joel Campbell out to the right to use his pace in defence and stop the Dutch attacks down that side as team captain Bryan Ruiz, trudges over to the centre.

We had to wait until 22 minutes of play to see the first real chance, and it was a lovely move from Van Gaal’s men. Kuyt received the ball high up on the right wing and subsequently slotted in Depay on the edge of the area. The PSV winger unselfishly laid the ball into Robin van Persie who blasted towards goal. One of the contender for ‘Goalkeeper of the Tournament’ Keylor Navas, parried the shot away into the path of Wesley Sneijder, who drove a low shot which the Costa Rican stopper again halted from entering the net.

Just before the half-hour mark, the in-form Navas was called into action again. Bryan Ruiz was forced into a mistake by Stefan de Vrij and in turn lost to the ball to Van Persie. The Manchester United striker surged forward and dished out to a sprinting Depay cutting in from the left. Unfortunately for youngster, his early low drive at goal was stopped by the Levante keeper’s feet.

Navas has a release clause in his contract of €8m and has been linked with Monaco, Atletico Madrid among others and once again was denying Holland on 38 minutes. After Junior Diaz have picked up a booking for pulling back Arjen Robben, Sneijder took the resulting free-kick from around 30 yards out. The Galatasaray man hit the shot perfectly but the agile Navas leapt across the goal to palm in it out for a corner, and made sure that the sides went into half-time goal less.

After a cautious beginning to the second-half, the Costa Ricans started to get into the game. Always looking good from set-pieces, Costa Rica had a great chance to take the lead just after the hour mark. Giancarlo González headed over a wonderful whipping deep ball from a Christian Bolaños free-kick. In a similar move ten minutes later, Aston Villa’s Ron Vlaar nodded over a Wesley Sneijder cross at the opposite end.

The Costa Ricans were frustrating Van Gaal’s men and trying to counter attack when they could and Holland lacked urgency needed for a World Cup quarter final. The Dutch were finding it harder and harder as the clock ran down to break open the Navas’ defence. Navas was finally beaten on 83 minutes but he was saved by the post. After Gonzalez tugged on Robben’s shirt on the edge of the box, Sneijder’s resultant free-kick smashed off the post.

Around half a minute later, Navas stopped a great Van Persie effort to send the neutrals inside the jam-packed Arena Fonte Nova into raptures, cheering on every save the Levante man made.

With a few minutes to go, in an unusual moment, Van Persie miss kicked an excellent ball from Sneijder to flabbergast the crowd. The ball was put on a plate for the Man United forward just two yards out, it was a poor miss for a man of his quality.

After that shock, the fans were left in more disbelief deep into stoppage time. After a RVP free-kick was comfortably punched away by Navas, the ball fell to Daley Blind on the left wing. He fired a low ball across the front of goal which everyone missed but fell perfectly for Van Persie again at the back post. Van Persie blasted a shot at goal and somehow it was flicked up onto the bar by Yeltsin Tejeda.

Usual play resumed once extra time began as Navas saved a Ron Vlaar power header at goal from a corner. Minutes later, the underdogs had a weak penalty shout as Marco Ureña was protesting that Vlaar had fouled him in the area, however, Uzbek referee Ravshan Irmatov waved away appeals.

After Sneijder rattled the crossbar, the clock wore down and the inevitable was happening, the dreaded penalty shootout. With this in mind, Van Gaal then pulled a massive call out of the bag as the new Manchester United boss as subbed goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen for Newcastle United’s Tim Krul in the final moments of extra time.

There was a reason why…

Krul guessed the right way for every penalty and saved Bryan Ruiz and Michael Umaña’s efforts as Van Persie, Robben, Sneijder and Kuyt dispatched their shots to clinch the semi-final slot.

It was a massive move by Van Gaal and our English readers better get used to it. Van Gaal is going to be the new Manchester United manager and he does not care who he upsets to get the success he so dearly wants. Every gamble this World Cup has come off so far, he’s on a roll.


NETHERLANDS: Cillessen (Krul 120), De Vrij, Vlaar, Martins Indi (Huntelaar 106), Kuyt, Blind, Wijnaldum, Sneijder, Depay (Lens 76), Van Persie, Robben.

GOALS: None.

BOOKINGS: Martins Indi 64, Huntelaar 110.

COSTA RICA: Navas, Acosta, Gonzalez, Umana, Borges, Bolanos, Diaz, Gamboa (Myrie 79), Tejeda (Cubero 97), Ruiz, Campbell (Ureña 66).

GOALS: None.

BOOKINGS: Diaz 38, Umana 52, Gonzalez 81.


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Investigating Nigel de Jong’s injury

Holland midfielder Nigel De Jong was forced to leave the pitch with a groin injury 9 minutes into the match against Mexico. It has been confirmed that he had a groin tear and is out the World Cup for rehabilitation writes Reema Chandarana.

At AposTherapy, we treat groin injuries as they commonly affect the gait pattern. A groin tear is a rupture of the inner muscles of the thigh called the adductor group. This group is made up of six muscles of the inner leg. They are responsible for pulling the legs together and other movements of the hip. These groin muscles are commonly pulled due to overstretching caused by rapid lateral movement of the thigh, especially affecting athletes during sprinting. In rare cases, this injury can result in a full rupture, requiring surgery to reattach the torn muscle.

“An MRI examination at hospital confirmed that Nigel de Jong is struggling with a tear in his groin muscle,” the KNVB said in a statement. From this statement, it appears that De Jong has a grade 3 groin strain (link to Gemma’s hamstring blog). As he limped off the pitch it was evidently painful to walk. With this type of injury, swelling is expected with increased pain on high impact activities such as running.

In the first 3 days post injury, PRICE (protection, rest, ice, compression, elevation) would be advised. The Netherlands physiotherapy team in Brazil would have introduced a rehabilitation programme to get De Jong back playing as soon as possible. It is suspected that De Jong will be out of play between 2 and 4 weeks. During this time, his rehabilitation will be graduated towards sports specific drills and plyometric exercises until he is fit to return to play.

De Jong tweeted: “Devastated with the news about my injury. Sadly enough this is part of the sport as well. Will work hard on my recovery now and keep hope.” He is out of the World Cup, however, we wish him good luck towards his recovery for next season.


Groin tears to the adductors can be very tricky. These injuries are not straightforward and I have seen these injuries last for months. It really depends on where the tear has taken place as well. Is it at the tendo-osseous junction – where the tendon meets the bone? Is it in the belly of the muscle? These are the questions that will determine the prognosis. In addition, treating these injuries is not as simple as PRICE Principle. There are innovative new treatments available for tears to the muscle, such as Platelet Rich Plasma. This treatment could also be of benefit in increasing healing time and decreasing the amount of scar tissue when healing. In my experience with injuries like this, if this player is lucky it will be more like four to six weeks before he is match fit. In any event, we wish him well with his rehabilitation and I look forward to seeing him play in future tournaments.

Dr. Ralph Rogers  MD PhD MBA


Consultant in Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine

Website – www.ralphrogers.com

Twitter – @DrRalphRogers