Should Netherlands adapt a new system going forward in the World Cup? Ibrahim Ayyub gives his opinion on the campaign so far.

ned chilHolland defied the odds by making it to the knock out stages as group leaders when many thought they would be flying home after the group stages. Holland crushed Spain, came back to beat Australia after suffering a brief scare, and controlled Chile before scoring a late win. During these matches, Coach Louis van Gaal has switched formations and style of play yet some questions still linger with all these positive results.

Can Holland afford to keep playing conservative the rest of the way? It helped that Holland had the advantage of sitting back against a Chile side that needed to win to finish first. However, the knockout stage is a different creature. This style of play that Holland is using is great when they are playing with a lead but what would happen if Holland were to find themselves a goal down?

Holland were put to the challenge when they found themselves leaving the pitch at halftime against Spain and Australia with the score tied 1-1 in the first two matches of this World Cup. I was very curious to see how they would respond. Spain’s back four were overwhelmed and paid the price for their costly errors. Australia though was another story as Holland suddenly found themselves trailing Australia 1-2 after a dubious handball penalty was given early into the second half. It’s hard to counter attack against a team that now has the lead and plans on sitting back and Holland would have to fight their way back and play a different style of football.

Eventually, Holland proved that they do have a Plan B and goals from Robin van Persie and Memphis Depay sealed the come from behind win. The Chile victory was not easy on the eyes but the main objective was reached; finish first in the group table. They will now face Mexico, another team that plays it safe and doesn’t try to get caught with too many players attacking. Thus, whoever scores first will be relying on the other team being a more adventurous for them to set up the counter attacks.

In my opinion, Holland needs to develop a style where they can they dictate the tempo and be in control. Relying on counter attacks is not a fool proof plan. You can’t rely on scoring through long ball home-runs, especially if you are one play away from a red card and are forced to play down a man the rest of the game as we saw in the Italy loss to Uruguay. The last two games saw Memphis Depay come off the bench and give the team a boost. Perhaps van Gaal should consider playing the young man besides Wesley Sneijder in the midfield as Holland begins the second part of their journey in the knock out stage. However, this is van Gaal that we are talking about so who knows what he has in store next.

Ibrahim Ayyub (24 Posts)