Shocking. Surprising. Not that the Dutch beat the Italians. But surprising that they beat them without the Italians able to even put one past what was supposed to be a suspect defense. What is shocking – there hasn’t been a match yet where both teams have scored. I thought it would end with today’s matches, but what do I know.
Man of the match for the Dutch – the entire team. If I had to pick the cream of the crop, I would suggest Wesley Sneijder, Rafael Van der Vaart, Edwin Van der Sar, Dirk Kuyt (two assists), Orlando Engelaar (for a relative newcomer to the national team, he was a giant in breaking up the Italian attacks in front of his back four. He was also great at getting the ball forward through midfield) and my choice for the main man – Gio Van Bronckhorst. A headed goal and two assists. From the left back! That’s total football for you. For the Italians, Andrea Pirlo started getting more into the game in the second half and Fabio Grosso had a decent substitute appearance, but they had no player really step up.
So now, we hear that the offside goal by Ruud Van Nistelrooy wasn’t an offside goal since Panucci was in play even though he was off the pitch. Never heard the rule interpreted that way, but okay.
I am now 3 and 3 for the tournament, but my picks still seem to hold good in the Group of Death – France and the Netherlands. Now that Van Persie played (and Robben looked okay running down the sidelines to celebrate the goals), I guess I will have to stick with the Dutch to progress 🙂 ….
Pre-game prediction: Italy 1 Netherlands 1
Result: Italy 0 Netherlands 3
Scorers: Van Nistelrooy, Sneijder, Van Bronckhorst (Netherlands)