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COUNTDOWN 8: RVP, Robben to finalise van Gaal’s parting gift

COUNTDOWN 8: RVP, Robben to finalise van Gaal’s parting gift
June 04
19:58 2014

Heartbreak. Is there any country in the world football that has suffered this as much as the Netherlands?

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Possibly not. Well, the Oranje another chance to make their country and outgoing coach, Luis Van Gaal, happy; and the two proponents will most likely be Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben.

Captain van Persie is a skilled goal scorer, finishing moves with aplomb and delivering volleys like they are made in his backyard. Despite an injury-hit season and an underwhelming Manchester United performance, the 30-year old still contributed 18 goals in 28 appearances.

He saved the best for his country, leading the Oranje in qualifying for Brazil 2014 with 11 goals, emerging the highest goal scorer in qualifying and overtaking Patrick Kluivert as the country’s all-time highest goal scorer.

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Wing wizard Arjen Robben, on the other hand, takes the bull by the horn on the wings, and drives it into the centre before unleashing many of his pile drivers into the top or bottom corner.

The Bayern Munich star led the German club to four trophies this season, scoring 21 goals and 11 assists in the process. However, he will be looking to banish the ghosts of his South Africa 2010 World Cup final one-on-one miss against Spain when the score was 0-0, by leading the Netherlands to glory in the Brazil sun.

Exponents of total football, the Netherlands are the nearly men of world football, winning none of the three finals they have appeared in (the last was at South Africa 2010). Even with a golden generation in the 1970s, they fell to both West Germany and Argentina, and it remains to be seen what hopes Brazil holds for them.

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The man hoping to make this dream come true is none other than the enigmatic Dutch disciplinarian, Louis van Gaal. The 62-year-old former Ajax coach took over after the Euro 2012 nightmare where the country lost all its three group games to the dismay of their fans.

The Manchester United-bound coach who is in his second spell at the helm has overseen an almost-total overhaul of the team. He dispensed with the average players, held on to playmakers Robben, Wesley Sneijder and Robin van der Vaart, and strikers van Persie and Klass Huntelaar, while also introducing a long list of exciting youngsters from the national league — the likes of Daley Blind, Stefan de Vrij, Jordy Clasie, Georginio Wijnaldum and Patrick van Aanholt.

Perennial ease in World Cup qualification was once again achieved with two games to spare, as they won nine of their 10 matches, scoring 34 goals, conceding just five, and securing impressive away victories in Romania and Turkey.

Strength

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Scoring goals is not the Oranje men’s problem, as they delivered two or more goals during qualification and in majority of their friendly matches. The midfield is where the strength of the team lies, as they boast several playmakers whose vision create the final pass for efficient strikers to pounce on. On second thought, they also produce long-range beauties.

Weakness

While they will cope with Kevin Strootman’s absence due to injury in attack, the defence can cave in at any time. A young and inexperienced backline leaves too many gaps for effective long-range sightings for the opposition, with almost half of the goals they concede coming from outside the area. This inexperience will be well-exploited when the big teams come calling in the elimination round. Also, their strikers may be poachers, but they rarely score from within the 6-yard box in open play, a cheerful statistic for opposing teams who love to defend deep.

Last line

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Although tactically astute, Van Gaal’s arrogance could cause more heartache for Dutch fans. On a lighter but true note however, if opposition teams need a win against Holland, all they need do is buy the former Bayern coach flowers. Ask former FC Twente coach, Steve McClaren, it works a treat!

 

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