Michael Doodeman takes a look at what the Oranje have going for them heading into the World Cup Semi Final clash against Argentina.

ornjeThe Oranje’s quarter final clash with Costa Rica was dominated by the men in orange, but with misfortune, the domination didn’t translate onto the scoreboard.

The Netherland’s fifth straight World Cup win was won through hard work and mental toughness. Although the game was only won by penalties, the Dutch eleven, or should I say twenty three, showed enduring qualities of strength, persistence and positive attitude. Many players did an exceptional job:

The back three consisting of Ron Vlaar, Bruno Martins Indi and Stefan De Vrij proved their strength throughout the entire duration of the match. Header after header, challenge after challenge was won by this back three. More credit is given to the attackers typically, however one of the reasons Holland has progressed is due to Vlaar, De Vrij and Martins Indi.

Proving his stamina and work rate was good old Dirk Kuyt once again. He along with Daley Blind showed great enthusiasm and effort while defending and attacking down their respectable flanks.

It was also very exiting seeing Wesley Sneijder back in excellent form. Perhaps he stood out in this match as the Netherlands played more of a possession, attacking styled match allowing him time and opportunity with the ball, in which he proved dangerous with. The Galatasaray man looked fit as ever, chasing and intercepting balls, attacking and defending continuously, but what impressed many was the return of his deadly free kicks, passing and shooting abilities. Wesley put forth two great free kicks only having them barely denied by Navas and the woodworks. He also nearly won it for the Oranje in the late minutes while curling a beauty right off the crossbar.

The Dutch can also thank Jasper Cillessen, the Ajax number one went untested for the majority of the match, and kept sharp making a crucial kick save denying Costa Rica of a late extra time goal.

As for the penalty shootout, it was not luck that won the Oranje their match, it was due to several factors. Robin Van Persie, Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder and Dirk kuyt all stepped up to the spot and placed their shots in perfect positions not allowing Navas any chance to make the difference. The other factor winning this match was the decision of Louis Van Gaal and his staff to bring on the 6.4” Geordie, Tim Krul. Although goalkeepers usually pick their side before the penalty is taken, you must wonder if Tim Krul guessed or if he reacted brilliantly, as he dove the right way for all penalties while saving two. Bottom line, Tim Krul used great intimidation skills, reflexes and his reach to take Holland into the quarter finals against Argentina.

The Semi-final

A positive while winning through penalties, is the team’s adrenaline levels. The Oranje through clinching such a narrow victory will be fired up to take on Argentina this Wednesday in the Semi-final match. If the Dutch want to progress to their fourth World cup final, they will have to tighten up a couple loose bolts and get ready to battle it out.

Going forward the men in orange created many chances, but did not execute the finishing touch. There were a couple of unbelievable misses in front of the Costa Rican net that could have punished the Dutch. In Wednesday’s Semi-final Van Persie will need to find his rhythm again and be more clinical in front of the opposition’s goal.  The attacking line, will need to be more organized as they found themselves being offside 13 times, wasting countless good possessions of the ball.

The attacking weapons of the Oranje can definitely threaten the Argentinian back line, but that statement goes both ways as Argentina’s attacking threats can threaten the Oranje’s back line. The Oranje’s greatest threat will undoubtedly be Lionel Messi as the man can hurt any team. Two huge losses for the Netherland’s will be Nigel De Jong’s absence and possibly Ron Vlaar’s absence if he misses the match due to a knee injury. Nigel De Jong would be perfect to deny Messi space and time, however Messi will most likely have to be taken care of by other players. Possible candidates to deny Messi would be Wijnaldum, Blind, or Martins Indi, however with all due respect, none of them match Nigel De Jong’s intensity and reading of the game.

The 5-3-2 formation will probably be used to cope with Argentina’s attack as it allows extra stability in the back while posing great attacking threat on the counter and through the strikers. Argentina’s defense hasn’t necessarily looked all that convincing; the likes of Robben and Van Persie will need to work hard to exploit the back line and produce for the Oranje.

Not too many people predicted the Netherlands would have made it this far, in such a convincing manner. The success has been achieved due to ALL the players and staff members, not just a select few as shown throughout this tournament. High spirits, togetherness, respect and hard work is what got the Oranje to where they are now, and those are the attributes needed to bring them further forward. The Oranje should forget their past success in this tournament and think, if we win our two next games, we will be the World champions at last. Hup Holland Hup!

Michael Doodeman (12 Posts)