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"The intellectualisation
of football has
always foundered
on a simple problem-
-the players. Doing
all your most
rewarding thinking
with your feet seems
to dull the philo-
sophical impulse.
Unless, of course,
you are Dutch.
According to legend,
Europeans played
a moronic, muscular
version of the world's
game, until Holland
proclaimed its vision
of total football in the
1974 World Cup,
and enlightenment

Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Football

Holland squeeze past Japan

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Netherlands - Japan 1-0

Robin van Persie didn't play a great game, yet he was involved in Holland's only goal

The Netherlands have won their second group game at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and now lead Group E with six points after two games played.

The Dutch could be the first to qualify for the next round if the game between Denmark and Cameroon, later today, ends undecided.

Holland again didn't impress. The play was slow and lacking creativity, yet it was well organized, not giving away much. The only slightly exciting moment was when Dirk Kuyt connected with a Van Persie cross from the left. But his bicycle kick was blocked by a Japanese defender.

Apart from that Holland's forward play was slow, lacking depth and creativity against the compact Japanese defense. Bert van Marwijk's team didn't give away much either and so a very sterile game developed; not very entertaining and perhaps only interesting for those with Dutch and Japanese interests.

Towards the end of a weary first half Japan urged forward a bit more and Holland were struggling for control. But the Japanese too had trouble setting up anything decent. A reason for that? Perhaps the dry pitch, perhaps the ridiculous ball? Who knows. We might get explanations later on, but the picture is emerging that all teams are having trouble dealing with certain factors in South Africa.

Holland started the second half a bit better. Van der Vaart stayed wide - instead of constantly cutting inside - and gave Sneijder and Van Persie more space to operate in. It paid of in the 53rd minute. Van der Vaart had a bit of room down the left to to put a ball into the box, where Van Persie was unable to get a shot on goal, yet his neat flick to Sneijder gave the Inter player enough time to aim his shot well from just outside the box. The ball seemed to fly to the corner, but as it suddenly swerved to the center it took the Japanese goal keeper by surprise and went in.

Japan straight away left their defensive positions and put more pressure on the Dutch defense. This left Holland with more space up front, without Holland's play getting that much better. Twice Oranje almost took advantage though, but each time substitute Ibrahim Afellay (on for Sneijder) was denied by Kawashima.

Although Japan saw more of the ball after Sneijder's opener they too had trouble putting together any decent moves. Holland stayed upright without much effort, yet in stoppage time they had to allow Japan one big chance. Shinji Okazaki aimed his shot too high from some 10 meters out and Holland added three points to their total.

Bert van Marwijk agreed that Holland didn't play very well, but said it was tough against a well-organized opponent like Japan. "We can and we must improve our game, but we have six points after two games. So I'm happy."


1-0 - 53' - Sneijder  


36' G. van der Wiel  


M. Stekelenburg   E. Kawashima  
G. van der Wiel   M. Tanaka  
J. Heitinga   Y. Komano  
J. Mathijsen   Y. Nakazawa  
G. van Bronckhorst   Y. Nagatomo  
M. van Bommel   K. Honda  
N. de Jong   M. Hasebe 77' S. Okazaki
R. Van der Vaart 72' E. Elia Y. Endo  
W. Sneijder 83' I. Afellay Y. Abe  
D. Kuyt   D. Matsui 64' S. Nakamura
R. van Persie 88' K. Huntelaar Y. Okubo 77' K. Tamada


| More


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