With the recent passing away of the legendary actor, Eli Wallach, who played the role of Tuco Benedicto Pacífico Juan María Ramírez (The Ugly) in one of the greatest movies of all-time, The Good, The Bad & The Ugly. I decided to dedicate my latest column in his memory, by looking back on Holland’s win over Mexico that featured all three aspects. Holland will now face another CONCACAF opponent, Costa Rica.

  • By Ibrahim Ayyub
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hunteloranjeThe Good

Holland’s never quit spirit. Kuyt was the perfect example of a player who did everything that was asked of him to do on the pitch. Sneijder, even though he continued to struggle and failed to step up, as noted by Adrian Bucher on this website not too long ago, also didn’t sulk or hang his head low and kept fighting and scored the equalizer. Mexico eased up after they went up a goal and Holland were determined to keep looking for that equalizer which they deservedly got. Depay and Huntelaar coming off the bench were great moves by van Gaal. Huntelaar scoring on a penalty, after missing his last few with Schalke, under such pressure was great and also a boost for this team. After so many expected a group exit for the Oranje, a return to the Semi-Finals seems very possible.

The Bad

Holland’s performance in the first 60 minutes was something to forget. De Jong’s injury hurt the midfield, as Blind struggled to fill in that role while the fullbacks were getting exposed constantly by Mexico. Cillessen looked shaky at times while Blind and Vlaar could have done more to block Giovanni Dos Santos’s effort that resulted in a goal. Perhaps the heat played a part in it but they cannot afford to start another match like this again. Sneijder without De Jong and Depay struggles and hopefully Depay can start besides Sneijder, but at whose expense in the starting lineup? Can Depay replace De Jong even though he is not as defensive savvy or will van Gaal prefer to go total football against Costa Rica?

The Ugly

The heat was one of the ugliest factors in this game for both, the players and the spectators in attendance. Good thing FIFA allows water breaks, which van Gaal used to his advantage by giving Sneijder a chat about tactical changes and rightfully so. It’s foolish to believe managers can’t talk to their players during these water breaks. What next? Players can’t talk amongst one another as if they’re in school?

Robben’s diving along with his subsequent confusing apology was not needed. We all know Robben likes to make a meal out of most tackles and Rafa Marquez did foul him for that penalty. Robben’s dive in the second half when he intentionally tripped over Layun’s legs was embarrassing and not needed. Obviously, he should have been awarded a penalty in the first half and perhaps his reputation played a role in the referee not to point to the spot. The Tale of The Boy Who Cried Wolf comes to mind and I wouldn’t be surprised if referees doubt if he is being fouled or diving. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the referee gave the Robben penalty either after he realized he should have given one in the first half. Sooner or later, a referee will book him and the last thing we need is a player like Robben to be sent off, like Gheorghe Hagi against Italy in Euro 2000, in a knock out game. We need our best players on the pitch. His apology afterwards was confusing and just prolonged the controversy even more.

Costa Rica has impressed at this World Cup by advancing from a group that featured three former World Cup champions. Holland will be playing a later kick off when they face Costa Rica so perhaps the heat won’t be a factor in this matchup. However, Holland better avoid another Good, Bad and Ugly performance against Costa Rica if they want to book a ticket to the Semi-Finals where they await the winner of Argentina-Belgium.

Ibrahim Ayyub (24 Posts)