Finally, when was the last time we were a witness to a Dutch side that was as spirited and and unified as this squad? So often in major tournaments gone by the Oranje camp has been volatile and fractious environment, but not here. They’re united behind a common cause and have full belief in the ideologies of their manager, traits that when combined with the raw quality within this squad, make for a formidable combination.
Where can they improve?
While the Netherlands have been the most tactically adept side at this World Cup, you could argue that they have been a little too reactive on occasions.
In their 5-1 demolition of Spain, the Oranje tempted the world champions onto them before springing forward at blistering speed. Against Australia, Van Gaal had to change his system to get a foothold in a game in which an energetic Socceroos team were overrunning the Dutch. Against Mexico, the Netherlands went direct to Dirk Kuyt and Huntelaar after struggling to find a way through their massed defense. All games in which intentionally or unintentionally, they resorting to a reactionary style of play.
Granted, these ploys all eventually all worked. But as we get to the very sharp end of the tournament, could the Dutch afford themselves a sluggish start against a team of the calibre of Argentina, Brazil or Germany? If any side goes a goal down against those trio of teams then it’d be a very difficult task to turn the match round, even for a tactician as capable as Van Gaal.
So while the Dutch boss deserves undoubted acclaim for the manner in which he’s been able to change the course of games, perhaps we can criticize a little him for the ponderous manner in which the Dutch have often started these matches?
If the Oranje can get off to a flying start and go a goal up, they could do some serious damage on the counter attack with Arjen Robben’s scintillating surges forward. As they gear up for their clash with the Albiceleste, you suspect that’ll be at the forefront of Van Gaal’s thinking.
What problems can they pose Argentina?
Here’s how the two teams look set to line up for this semi-final clash:
As we touched upon briefly, an early goal would be perfect for the Dutch. Of course, an early goal for any team in any game is always ideal, but given the players at Van Gaal’s disposal, the pattern of the match afterwards would suit the Netherlands down to the ground.