All 12 entries tagged World Cup

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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

June 14, 2006


How many times can a man contradict himself in 90 minutes?

86th minute, after Al Jaber's goal (2–1)

Saudi Arabia are by no means certain of winning this match!

94th minute, final whistle (2–2)

After Al Jaber's goal Saudi seemed certain to win this match!

I guess he was right the first time even though they did seem certain to win the match, as he corrected himself after the match.

On a sidenote, I've never had so much fun doing homework/watching a football match than whilst watching Korea Republic v Togo and looking up every 5 seconds because of all the clapping and cheering. I guess there are no fans more optimistic than the Koreans!

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.

May 14, 2006

And then there were 23

Follow-up to And now from [TBA]

Keepers: Edwin van der Sar, Henk Timmer, Maarten Stekelenburg

Defenders: André Ooijer, John Heitinga, Kew Jaliens, Khalid Boulahrouz, Joris Mathijsen, Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Tim de Cler, Jan Kromkamp

Midfielders: Mark van Bommel, Denny Landzaat, Phillip Cocu, Hedwiges Maduro, Rafael van der Vaart, Wesley Sneijder.

Strikers: Dirk Kuyt, Robin van Persie, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink, Arjen Robben, Ryan Babel.

So that's a no to Barry Opdam (AZ), Nigel de Jong (HSV), Klaas–Jan Huntelaar (Ajax), George Boateng (Boro), Romeo Castelen (Feyenoord).

Thought Opdam was better than any of the other AZ defenders, but well. Didn't expect De Jong to go either, but I guess Maduro is more consistent. Shame about Huntelaar – I'm a PSV fan but really don't think Vennegoor of Hesselink is going to do amazing things (he's the Dutch equivalent of Peter Crouch) – he would have been a better bet than most of the makeshift wingers. Don't care about Boateng or Castelen.

So who's gonna win us the World Cup? Van der Sar – if only because the defence looks rather inexperienced. Cocu – with a last flash of genius – or Van der Vaart – with a first flash of genius. Van Nistelrooy – to reach the goal quotum for this year that Ferguson denied him. Not expecting too much from the young and talented then. At least the orange looks good.

May 08, 2006

And now

Follow-up to Still orange from [TBA]

for something completely different

The Dutch 28 for Germany 2006. Taken fresh from the BBC website.

Keepers: Edwin van der Sar (Manchester United), Maarten Stekelenburg (Ajax), Henk Timmer (AZ Alkmaar)

Defenders: Khalid Boulahrouz (Hamburg SV), Giovanni van Bronckhorst (Barcelona), Tim de Cler (AZ Alkmaar), Kew Jaliens (AZ Alkmaar), Jan Kromkamp (Liverpool), Joris Mathijsen (AZ Alkmaar), Andre Ooijer (PSV Eindhoven), Johnny Heitinga (Ajax), Barry Opdam (AZ Alkmaar)

Midfielders: George Boateng (Middlesbrough), Mark van Bommel (Barcelona), Phillip Cocu (PSV Eindhoven), Nigel de Jong (Hamburg SV), Denny Landzaat (AZ Alkmaar), Hedwiges Maduro (Ajax), Wesley Sneijder (Ajax), Rafael van der Vaart (Hamburg SV)

Strikers: Ryan Babel (Ajax), Romeo Castelen (Feyenoord), Klaas–Jan Huntelaar (Ajax), Dirk Kuyt (Feyenoord), Ruud van Nistelrooy (Manchester United), Robin van Persie (Arsenal), Arjen Robben (Chelsea), Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink (PSV Eindhoven).

Oh no why not Davids, Bouma, Hasselbaink, Seedorf, X, Y, Z? I couldn't care less. Bouma's not any better than the defenders selected. Davids… hasn't proven to be a key player in Tottenham's near success this season. Seedorf has proven not to do well in the national team, no matter what successes he has in Italy. And Hasselbaink? Now come on!

Possible drop-outs:
This is where I pretend to know stuff about football

Vennegoor of Hesselink. Huntelaar might have less experience, but who cares when he scores 40 goals in a season? Most significant ones in Europe for Heerenveen and helping Ajax reach the second CL (qualifying) spot.

Kromkamp. Even if only because he thought he'd make more money on the bench in Liverpool than occasionally playing for Villareal.

Van Bommel or Boateng. I fear for Van Bommel. I think he'd bring more passion and even experience to the selection, but Van Basten doesn't seem to be a big fan of his work. Boateng will mainly be useful if we get to play England in some later stage. Please drop Boateng!

Some unknown AZ defender. Probably Jaliens. The rest have proven to be capable in Europe or in Oranje.

An excess striker. Only two seem to be in form (Huntelaar and Babel), but the other players seem to have their function in the team or proven their value. I fear for Huntelaar, but hope San Marco drops Castelen. I suppose he is "the other winger" (after Robben) but I'd rather have someone who can play football than someone who can run. Unless it's Rommedahl!

In other news

Ronald Koeman will be the new PSV trainer. Hurrah! Not expecting him to bring near miracles like Hiddink did, but he did a great job getting Benfica to the next CL round.

February 14, 2006

Still orange

Well, at least it's almost orange. But oh dear God whoever designed these Ts should consider a different career.

Dutch outfit

Or maybe it's just the person that dressed them. Does that really look comfortable? For the record, these are the new outfits the Dutch squad are going to wear at the World Cup in Germany. Fortunately the cup won't be won with fashion. For those actually interested in the players, these are Khalid Bouhlarouz (HSV), Rafael van der Vaart (HSV), Wesley Sneijder (Ajax), Romeo Castelen (Feyenoord), Marco van Basten (coach), John van't Schip (assistent coach, former international).

Photo from the KNVB website.

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