All 17 entries tagged Football

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June 09, 2008

Game on!

Writing about web page,1


I don’t care if we peaked too soon, this was a great match to remember – first win over Italy since before I was born!

And: the first goal wasn’t off-side! Apparently, the defender had enough time to join the game again, and cannot put a striker in an off-side position by staying off the field. Double hurrah!

And: none of the Dutch players seemed too bored or incompetent to join in the game. Triple hurrah!

March 08, 2007

The irony is lost on me

And the irony of PSV hero Alex’s links with Chelsea did not escape the beaten Wenger.

The reporting on the PSV – Arsenal matches of the past two weeks has been truly appalling. From Russian mafia conspiracy theories to negative tactics to the worst football product in recent years. And I don’t even read the Sun.

Simple fact: PSV scored more goals than Arsenal (in fact, they scored all goals). You generally don’t advance without scoring a goal. You cannot blame the other team for having a better understanding of this concept.

Here’s another one: PSV, with Valencia, are the only club left in the Champions League not amongst the 20 richest football clubs in Europe. Why? Because it’s not in the Premier League! It might be hard to believe, but football clubs outside the UK tend not to make so much money (one reason is that admission prices are below an average working day salary), and thus don’t have much to spend on the best of the best. Great local talent is snatched away – to be fair, PSV does the same locally, by attracting youngsters from smaller Dutch clubs, but only for them to be lured away by the money making machines elsewhere. And even if you’re lucky on the transfer market, your star player will not stay for more than two years. It’s only a matter of time until Farfan enters the global spotlight.

With restricted means, you have to be clever. Guus Hiddink managed to take PSV to the second round in the Champions League twice in a row with two rather dissimilar teams. He had a slightly more versatile selection than Ronald Koeman is managing this year, so he could be a bit more adventurous, but the big difference with PSV’s game from the 1990s is its serenity. The defence is solid, and with arguably the best goalkeeper in the world, there isn’t a lot of pressure on the team to make the game. And that one goal will come, as we’ve seen twice now.

A report in the Guardian noted more irony: how Arsenal appears to be the last stronghold of the revelled Dutch total football, whereas one cannot get further away from this system than with Dutch champions PSV’s game. Or even worse: how if PSV are the Dutch champions, the quality of the Dutch league must be rather poor. But who is to blame?

PSV manages to get maximum return out of its input. Perhaps it’s a shame it involves “negative tactics” and a star player on loan from a competitor. Perhaps it’s more of a shame it had to resort to such means, forced by the economic ways of the game.

February 09, 2007

A strong message

Follow-up to It could be Rotterdam from [TBA]

Also writing about the following news item.

Feyenoord has been ejected from the UEFA Cup, and here’s what wise man and new UEFA president Michel Platini has to say about it:

This sends out a strong message that acts of violence by fans within the game will be heavily dealt with and punished by the relevant authorities.

A bit of a shame that the message has been delivered to the wrong people. The key word is, as usual, fans, for are those who illegally obtain tickets to football matches, and then end up disrupting the match, really what you would like to call supporters?

I understand the UEFA is not in the easiest position, punishing a club for something it actually could not prevent, but someone needed to be punished. But then to declare that justice has been served is a complete farce, and creates sympathy for the big clubs who want to break away from this archaic institution with its maze of fictional rules and regulations.

January 19, 2007

It could be Rotterdam

i think they should throw the whole of holland out of all competitions. I t was good enough for the english in 1985 when those liverpool fans went on their rampage so it must be good enough for everyone else.

Sometimes I wonder if internet access to the general public is desirable.

If a club warns their competitor hooligans are on their way, acquiring illegal tickets on the streets, and the other ignores the warnings, who is to blame? In this way, a club could even be intentionally negligent and admit hooligans – supposedly the opponent’s supporters – thus causing the opponent to be expelled from the competition.

I wonder what spurred UEFA’s turnaround…

July 06, 2006

My penultimate World Cup entry?

Cristiano Ronaldo on Portugal's tactics:

Everyone who saw the match could see that the referee wasn't fair. He should have shown yellow cards but he did not because Portugal is a small country.

Also, CR should have played more football and stumble less, but he did not because he still felt the prints of Boulahrouz' left foot in his thigh.

Which of these two statements is true?

July 04, 2006

Right when you think it's all over

Best. Match. Ever.

Forza Italia!

July 03, 2006

Another little review

Follow-up to A little late review from [TBA]

Triggered by the other review of the England squad, and to respond to my housemate's request, I'll try and give my own ratings, related to how I rated the Dutch.

Goals for: 5 (6 if you count the Paraguay own goal along)
Goals against: 2
Cautions: 9 (1 expulsion)

Since I didn't watch all England matches, I won't rate every player, but here are the ones I thought that matter

Robinson promising. Only one great save I remember amongst quite a few panicky ones, but not bad. 6,5

Gary Neville steady. Just plays football and there's nothing wrong with that. Not very exciting going forward, however. 6

Ashley Cole timid. Definitely not as great as 2 years ago, and not as adventurous. No massive problems in defending. 6

Ferdinand strong and present. Absolutely nothing wrong with him. Apart from playing for ManU. 8

Terry burdened. He just seemed under pressure, never really relaxed in defending, nor outstanding. 6

Gerrard invisible. Really. I know he scored goals, but as a consequence of the game England played, i.e. skippin' the midfield, he didn't get to do that much. Great corner against Portugal though. 6

Lampard disappointing. Most shots on goal? His best match seemed to be against Portugal, where he hardly missed his chances, as he didn't get that many. Again, not sure if his lack of form was due to the long season, or the unsuitable tactics. 4

Beckham cool. But why does he play? Misses the pace to go forward, and misses precision to be of any use in defending. With the midfield being skipped most of the time, he can't be the anchorman either. Nothing really wrong with him, but with Lampard (even if not in form) and Gerrard taking fine free kicks and better corners, there doesn't seem to be any use for him in the starting line up. 5

Rooney forced. It wasn't his fault. Nothing was. It was just a miracle that didn't happen. 5

Joe Cole the man. Seemed at times to be the only Englishman on the field who wanted to win this Cup. I'm still not convinced his was the possible goal of the tournament, but he did deserve to be noticed. Funnily enough Hargreaves seemed to be better at reaching the goal line in the Portugal match. 7

Hargreaves dear. Now you've got a problem. He can do almost anything, but just not as good as others. But tell him to run all over the field and do all he can to help out and he's your man. Unfortunately this was only realized in the final match. 7

Lennon great. Not a starting player (yet), but the best secret weapon this WC. Worked really well with Crouch and played with the Portugal defence. Teach him how to finish and you've got a new match winner and can send Robben back to the mainland. 7

Crouch extra. I still wonder what he's doing on the field, but he seems to be doing it well. Proved why he was there, and strong in the Portugal match. 7

Hmm. Looking at these ratings it's not all that bad. Well, apart from Lampard. It was just all so uninspiring. No one seemed willing to win this Cup, at least not until it seemed impossible to obtain when Rooney got sent off. So who is to blame?

Eriksson There's nothing wrong with being timid on the sidelines. Rather that than bobo Scolari jumping up and down and doing the Macarena. There was nothing wrong with the squad he selected. All fine players, and I just realize I rated them more positively than the Dutch squad, which I'm sure has some psychological meaning. But what was the plan?

All I can think of that Sven went around his players, asking what their favourite positions on the pitch were. He put the most valuable players together and would just see what the final line up would bring. 4–1–4–1? 3–5–2? Surely the players are talented enough to make something of it! But no.

Where Van Basten is too stubborn and should have seen that even after 20 matches, his squad still didn't perform well in 4–3–3, Sven seems to be more of a team player, making sure everyone's happy and the system will come later. I didn't rate Van Basten, but he would have probably had 5,5 out of 10. I'll give Sven the same, just because I can't decide whether the players' well being is more important than consistency in a system. San Marco ruined the Dutch confidence by making them play a system they couldn't handle, Sven ruined the English performance by making them play without a system.

June 27, 2006

A little late review

Follow-up to And then there were 23 from [TBA]

This is the end

Goals for: 3
Goals against: 2
Cautions: 16 (2 expulsions)

Those who didn't play
Henk Timmer, Maarten Stekelenburg, Jan Kromkamp

The ones you won't remember
Ryan Babel, Hedwiges Maduro, Tim de Cler, and Kew Jaliens only played in the pointless match against Argentina.
Denny Landzaat and Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink couldn't relight the matches as substitutions.

The rest
Van der Sar as brilliant as ever, possibly the best goalkeeper at the WC. 8
Boulahrouz very sturdy. Need experience to work on being caution–prone against cunning players like Figo. 6
Ooijer solid defender. Seems more fragile than Boulahrouz but was the most constant player in the team. In a positive way. The fact that you probably still don't know who he is says all about his game and the team. 7
Mathijsen very inexperienced but it didn't show. Possibly because Ooijer cancelled most of his (minor) mistakes. Looks too friendly to be a defender. Possibly too friendly to be on this Dutch team. 7
Van Bronckhorst very experienced which somewhat showed. I was afraid he was going to be sent off in the first two matches, and hated him for it. He did make a great interception against the Ivory Coast and played really well against Portugal. But then he did get sent off. Should work something out with Robben as they have the class to dominate the wing together. 5
Heitinga unsure. Had some brilliant passes in the first match, but had a hand in the explosion that was the Portugal match. If he grows up now he could still have a chance being remember in ten years time. 4
Cocu not as tragic as Zidane, but didn't have the strength to dominate or lead the Dutch midfield, which is basically where it all fell apart. 6
Van der Vaart misplaced. Not fully recovered, so it seemed, and not in a role where he could excell. The disorganized midfield didn't help either. 5
Sneijder the new captain? Only one obvious moment of inexperience. Might need to work on his presence. 6
Van Bommel misunderstood. Or at least that's what his expression makes you believe. The English are unnecessary hard on him, though to be fair he hasn't proven to be more than average. Yet. 5
Robben too soon. Everything happened to soon. Shone in the first match, where we needed him against Portugal. One trick pony, though he's the best at that trick. 6
Van Persie surprising. Must have learned something as an Arsenal sub. Some great moves and more composed than expected. Promising. 7
Kuyt idiot. Okay, he plays for Feyenoord so I'm biased. But let me quote the AD (Dutch newspaper):

Voerde tegen Portugal zijn basistaken als centrumspits goed uit en voldeed daarom

Sorry, in English that becomes

Performed his tasks as a striker well against Portugal and as such was adequate

What tasks? Be the player closest to the opponent's goal? Be inside the box? If he performed his tasks well, then why did we lose?!

To be fair on him, he needs a buddy and Van Basten should adapt the line up if he's going to field him. Still: 4

Van Nistelrooy disappointing. But so were Ronaldo and so many others. Could have used his experience and cunningness against the Portuguese, but then again it didn't help two years ago, so why would it have this time? 5

Overall, the Dutch team might not have been as entertaining as they used to be, but at least their matches were. There is some potential, and especially defensively they were very organized which showed against some of the best striking forces in the WC. The midfield was disastrous and someone should control Robben and Van Persie and make them aware they serve the others in the box. Hopefully Kuyt will end up in England and hopefully it will work for him as well as it did for Van Persie. Van Basten also needs more time, but I guess it took him some time to become one of the world's best ever too.

Fortunately, there is hope for the future. The lack of individual class was met with a better team spirit than before. Most of the younger players have gained a lot more experience, especially from the madness that was the Portugal match. More excellent youngsters will come in having won the EC –21 last month, one of them actually capable of scoring (Huntelaar).

I tried to be fair and realistic with the grades (all out of 10). Might have a go at the England team soon too. It doesn't look much better at the moment.

June 26, 2006

A little advice

Good remedy for when your side gets knocked out of the World Cup: watch Empire Records

May 31, 2006

Against All Odds

Follow-up to And then there were 23 from [TBA]

I'm no statistician, so don't pin me down on this, but Ladbrokes might have actually given the final verdict on the toughness of the groups.

The average odds for the groups are:

A (with Germany) – 145.5 (similar to Japan's odds)
B (with England) – 222.5 (similar to Tunesia and Iran's odds)
C (with Argentina and Holland) – 46.5 (similar to Croatia's odds)
D (with Portugal) – 203 (similar to Tunesia's odds)
E (with Italy and Czech Rep) – 92.75 (similar to U.S. and Poland's odds)
F (with Brazil) – 81.8125 (similar to U.S. odds)
G (with France) – 190.5 (similar to Tunesia's odds)
H (with Spain) – 195.5 (similar to Tunesia's odds)

So one might think group C is the toughest group, however: group A, B, E, and G all have 3 teams with higher odds than the average (basically one crap team brings the average down (or up?)), making these possibly the harder to cruise through.

As noticed from the previous entry, the English don't seem to have much faith in the Dutch. No big deal, but it is clear that these odds and predictions come from knowing the team. The reason England get such high odds is because you know what world class players you've got. In the Netherlands, they couldn't care less about Beckham or Owen, hence don't be surprised to find England lower on the scale than Holland.

I don't think we (the Netherlands, Holland) will win the World Cup. I do think we're gonna surprise at least the English, possibly by topping our group or defeating Brazil (though that would imply we'd get to the final, and possibly we'd have to defeat the English on our way). We had an impressive match against Cameroon on Saturday – yes I know, friendlies don't mean anything, but at least there was a plan of action, which I still haven't seen in any England match for the past 10 years. By plan I mean that everyone plays a role, not just getting that free kick and let Beckham take care of the rest.

Why not Holland?

Van der Sar – ManU goalie. No introduction necessary. Strongest link (we hope).

Kromkamp – L'pool sub. Was great 2 years ago in the rise of AZ Alkmaar (semi finals UEFA cup last year).
Boulahrouz – Unknown here but strong defender in the Dutch team. Plays for HSV (ran short of direct CL placement).
Mathijsen – Another AZ player. Inexperienced but has proven to understand Van Basten's directions well.
Van Bronckhorst – Has played for big clubs and has lots of experience. Dependable, but seems to have lost his creativity.

Van der Vaart – Injured at the moment, but supposedly the creative brain. Needs to get his act together though, which he does in Germany, where he's becoming the most popular Dutchman since Rudi Carrell.
Landzaat – Another Alkmaar wunderkind. Not in form at the moment, but potentially outstanding midfielder.
Cocu – Greatest player in Dutch Eredivisie. Wonderful pair with Van Bommel in PSV last year (reached CL semis). Fragile like most older players, but vital anchor in midfield.

Kuyt – Without him, Feyenoord are nothing. Wanted by several Premier League teams. Just does what he needs to do.
Van Nistelrooy – Man of contradictions. Runs away from stadiums but then comes back as if nothing happened and scores goals as usual. Essential striker.
Robben – Fallen Chelsea winger. Last highlight was Euro'04 against the Czechs. Time has come for something new now the stumbling isn't working.

Ooijer – Solid PSV defender since the dawn of time. Fails to make an impression though.
Van Bommel – Barcelona's 3rd choice in midfield. Too eager to impress, good at making opponents look bad. Should play in Germany.
Van Persie – Arsenal's supersub. Plays with flair though often like a headless chicken. Great on the wings against Cameroon – a first surprise?
Sneijder – No, not Schnaidurr! Can't pick up a whole team, but when left loose can outshine all others.

Yeah, I don't really care about the other subs.

Basically, there's no player like Davids, Kluivert, Seedorf, Bergkamp, or Stam in this team. The only player deemed world class by the rest of the world would be Van der Sar. All players are of great importance to their teams in the home leagues, however, and have proven to form a balanced team for Holland. In this way, not having Rooney might be the best that has ever happened to the English squad. Eriksson is now forced to build a team that can win the Cup as a whole, not because of a single player. A bit unfortunate that he only realized it this week.

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