Monday, June 14, 2010
Game 9: Netherlands vs Denmark
Denmark proved to be equal to the task of taking on one of the favorites, mounting an astounding defense that would frustrate the Dutch. Holland started with van Persie, Kuyt, Sneijder, and v. der Vaart as their top four, and although those are some quality players, they were really missing some speed, especially in the form of Arjen Robben; however, they would find their answer later in the second half.
For the first half the Dutch were having a very hard time creating chances. Although they were moving the ball well, it was not fast enough, allowing the Danes to quickly restructure and react. Nerves also got the better of the Netherlands in the beginning, when some bad passing would allow Denmark to mount some counter-attacks, some being more successful than others. Things were looking bad for the offensive minded Dutch until they got some breathing room in the 46th minute when Paulson, a Danish defender, would accidentally head the ball into his own net.
Slowly but surely Denmark would start to crumble, while Holland would keep pressing. It was not until the 67th minute, however, when Elia came on for v. der Vaart that Holland would finally start to get some results for their efforts. His impact was immediate, turning defenders on the flank, putting balls into the middle with solid crosses, and just completely dominating the Danish defense. Elia brought some speed to the pitch, something the Dutch were lacking without Arjen Robben. This speed would pay off as Elia would sneak behind the Danish defense, after a wonderful through ball from Sneijder, and take a poke at the ball, sending it around the keeper Sorenson, only to hit the post; fortunately, Dirk Kuyt was there to tap it into the goal, yielding the final score of 2-0 in favor of the Netherlands.
If I may be bold, I think Elia should start. Van der Vaart is a natural candidate for replacement as he constantly played out of position. Instead of being on the left where he was supposed to be, he would drift into the middle. This would be detrimental to Wesley Sneijder who needs that space in the middle to be at his best, instead Sneijder would constantly be clogged, and unable to perform because v. der Vaart would track to many defenders in. Additionally, having someone who is extremely fast and able to run at defenders is very important for most teams, and the Dutch were lacking that until Elia came in. The reason I want Sneijder to stay in, even though this match was less than stellar for him, is because if he is not clogged up then he has the potential to be brilliant, sadly Raphael and Wesley did not click this game. I was really impressed by this kid, he brought some life to the team.
For Denmark, don't be dis-heartened! You may have lost, but you performed very well, much better than I expected. If the Danes are able to work on their counterattacks, they could easily go through the group in second place. Work on feeding Bendtner a bit more, and the man will score some goals, as he came very close a few times today. Their defense was impeccable, one of the best at the tournament so far. Plus they had Sorenson behind them, who came up with some really big saves. I was really impressed by Denmark this game.