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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
dawned."

From:
Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Football
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Holland make no mistake in World Cup opener

Netherlands-Denmark 2-0

Monday, 14 June 2010

An own goal by AZ-player Simon Poulsen and a late goal by Dirk Kuyt gave Holland three points in their first game of the World Cup.

Holland by no means played a good game against the compact Danes. Only when Eljero Elia came on, 20 minutes into the second half did Oranje show sparks of the football they can play.

After a nervous start Holland were able to take the initiative after about 15 minutes, yet unable to do anything with it.

Denmark played with a very compact midfield of five and with both Dutch wingers - Kuyt and Van der Vaart - unable to get away from their markers, the Dutch defenders had few possibilities for a decent buildup.

The best chance of the first half was for Denmark, when Nicklas Bendtner saw a weak header go a few meters wide. The chance gave Denmark a bit more hope and led to Holland's weakest phase in the game.

Not that the Danes were able to put Holland under great pressure, but the Dutch seemed unable to come to any decent move. A lot of it had to do with the fact that both Van der Vaart and Robin van Persie did not find to their normal level. Especially Van der Vaart - playing on the left wing - came inside a lot and thus closed down the spaces for Sneijder and Van Persie.

How Van der Vaart was supposed to play was made clear when the Madrid player was replaced by Eljero Elia in the 67th minute. The Hamburg-forward made a great impact in his first ever World Cup game, stuck to the wing and thus gave Wesley Sneijder more room to operate.

By that time Holland had already taken the lead by an own goal of Simon Poulsen. It happened straight after the break, when Van Persie connected to a long ball from the back. His cross was then headed onto the back of Agger by Poulsen and onto the inside of the post into the goals.

It all happened in the 46th minute and was the best start to the second half Holland could wish for.

Denmark were forced to leave their defensive positions more than they wished and gave Holland a bit more space.

However they didn't start benefiting from that space until Eljero Elia came on. The young winger was responsible for some of the best moves of the game. In the 85th minute he was put through by a smart Sneijder pass. Elia's effort was deflected onto the post by the Danish goalkeeper, and Dirk Kuyt showed he has a past as a center forward when he beat two defenders to the rebound and decided the game.

Holland will have entertained few but those with an orange heart, but the first three points are in the pocket and the performance of Elia will have opened some eyes in the staff of the team.

Goals

46' D. Agger 1-0
85' D. Kuyt 2-0

Cards

44' N. de Jong  
49' R. van Persie  
  63' S. Kjær

Lineups

M. Stekelenburg   T. Sørensen  
G. van der Wiel   D. Agger  
J. Heitinga   L. Jacobsen  
J. Mathijsen   S. Kjær  
G. van Bronckhorst   Christian Poulsen  
M. van Bommel   M. Jørgensen  
N. de Jong 88' D. de Zeeuw S. Poulsen  
R. Van der Vaart 67' E. Elia T. Enevoldsen 56' J. Gronkjaer
W. Sneijder   T. Kahlenberg 73' C. Eriksen
D. Kuyt   D. Rommedahl  
R. van Persie 77' I. Afellay N. Bendtner 62' M. Beckmann

 

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