With both Netherlands and Chile already through to the knockout stages but the winner avoiding Brazil (in all likelihood), this affair was always going to be a testy fair of “hot potato.” The match only sparked into life with two goals in the final 15-minutes by the Dutch who qualify at the top of their group. Holland is looking good for an extended World Cup run whilst no team will fancy taking on Chile, not even Brazil.
Here are my 5 observations from the Netherlands-Chile match:
1. Systems, systems, systems
Tactically it was a fascinating battle with the Chileans predominantly going with a 3-4-3 whilst Louis Van Gaal’s Holland defended with five at the back with the system changing to a 3-5-2 and at times a 4-3-3 depending on the flow of the attack.
Chile pressed as they did in the first two games but the Dutch seemed happy to soak up the pressure and tried to hit Jorge Sampaoli’s side on the break. Arjen Robben had a couple of good opportunities to put the Dutch ahead after a couple of typically forceful runs but for most of the match clear chances were few and far between with the both sides looking dangerous from set-pieces.
Despite Holland’s tactical flexibility Chile were able to exploit gaps in their defense and played a few dangerous balls into the box. Indeed the Chilean’s did seem to get into the Dutch box with a fair bit of regularity and will argue that they should have had a penalty even if their players did go to ground a little easily.
2. Going through the motions
With both sides safely through to the knockout stages neither Holland nor Chile displayed the sense of urgency that was evident in the opening two games. On the Dutch side the likes of Georginio Wijnaldum, Dirk Kuyt and Jermain Lens were keen to impress but with progression assured both teams appeared to play a little within themselves.
Holland’s performance for much of the match did not meet with Louis Van Gaal’s approval who wasn’t happy with his side’s lack of intensity. Manchester United’s players should take note as the Iron Tulip is no shrinking violet and will let them know exactly how he feels should they not reach the heights that he expects of them.
Van Gaal though will be happy with how Holland finished the game making the most of their chances.