Tag Archives: bouhlarouz

Russia v Netherlands – post game

Sorry Holland, but now that you have lost, you are back to the Netherlands. Frankly, the Dutch were lucky to get the game to extra time. Russia dominated this game from the beginning to the end. The only thing that the Dutch had going for them was the slack marking – frankly baffling given how good a coach Hiddink is – off of free kicks that almost had Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Nigel De Jong scoring in the first half. Other than that it was Russia that dominated midfield and looked the more dangerous going forward. Sneijder and Van der Vaart had below average games and Ooijer and Mathijsen looked pedestrian. If it wasn’t for Van der Sar’s heroics, this game would have been over by the 60 minute mark. As it was, he kept Russia out till the 56th minute when Pavlyuchenko brilliantly finished on the near post after getting goal side of his marker. The fault lies with Heitenga who had just come on for Bouhlarouz and was nowhere near the crosser, Semak. Too much time allowed him to deliver a perfect pass for Pavlyuchenko to leave Van der Sar flat footed.

After that, the Dutch tried everything to get back into the game but most of their efforts involved long range blasts by Sneijder. Unfortunately, my prediction for man of the match, Arjen Robben could not play due to injury and that limited Dutch penetration on the wings. They played too narrow which didn’t work against the Russians who packed it inside and didn’t give Van Nistelrooy or Sneijder much room. Meanwhile, Van Der Sar and De Jong somehow managed to keep Russia from scoring with Ooijer and Mathijsen clearly struggling with the pace of Arshavin, Pavlyuchenko and Zhirkov. However, there was just one free kick too many for the Russians and Ruud headed in unmarked to tie it up in the 86th minute. The game may not have ended the way it did if not for the referee overturning his decision to give Kolodin a second yellow card for a foul on Sneijder after consulting with his linesman who told him the ball had gone out of play before the foul. I have never seen that happen before. Good thing he did, because otherwise it would have unfairly given the Dutch an advantage in extra time, as replays showed no contact.

In extra time, it was clear that the Dutch were just hanging on and that it was Russia’s to win. Man of the match, Andrei Arshavin, demonstrated clearly that he was the best player on the park by showing the same pace at the end of the game as he did in the beginning. His stop start left his defender standing before he crossed for Torbinsky to turn the ball inside the far post when Van Der Vaart and Gio Van Bronckhorst left him get between and ahead of them. Arshavin finished the scoring with a diagonal run, received a throw in and put it between Van der Sar’s legs. Wenger, you better add some more millions to that transfer fee.

The result didn’t surprise me. As I had suggested in my pre-game post, IF both teams played the way they could, I thought the Russians would win. The Russians played the way they can and the Dutch didn’t even reach their regular potential. Russia and Turkey in the semi finals. What a tournament.

Pre-game prediction: Russia 1 Holland 3

Result: Russia 3 Netherlands 1 (a little dyslexia from HC21)

Scorers: Roman Pavlyuchenko, Dmitri Torbinsky, Andrei Arshavin (Russia) Ruud Van Nistelrooy (Netherlands)

Spain, could you please win one for the pre-game favorites and have CH12 at least correctly predict one of the four quarter finals…

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Russia v Holland – pre game prediction

Can’t call this one.  IF Russia plays the way they can and have and IF Holland plays the way they can and have, I would pick Russia to win.  It’s for one simple reason – they look like they can create multiple chances from any style of play.  They created chances when the pace was walk up slow against Greece, they scored off quick counter attacks against Sweden and they had chances against Spain, even though the scoreline didn’t reflect the balance.  I am still amazed at how calmly and well they move the ball around in the opponent’s penalty box.  They remind me of Arsenal – except that Russia plays even quicker one touch (no Hleb or Cesc to play on the ball as much), they are better able to find space in the opponent’s box with direct passing as opposed to one-two give and go’s and they don’t rely as much on breakaway speed.  It’s no surprise that Wenger is supposedly looking to buy Arshavin to replace Adebayor (if he goes to Milan).  I actually think Arshavin is a better replacement for Hleb.  He’s quicker, more direct and shoots more than Hleb who tends to hold the ball too much (though he is an amazing player) for the Arsenal offense.  Pavlyuchenko is another one who might cause Ooijer and Mathijsen some trouble.  He’s just a bit too selfish on occasion, but I think he will give them trouble in the air.

Having said all that, and built Russia up (huge weapon is Hiddink’s ability as a coach and his knowledge of the Dutch game), it’s hard to go against the Dutch given the fact that their skill players are in good form.  They are not older and fatigued like the Swedes.  Robin Van Persie, Arjen Robben, Rafael Van der Vaart, Wesley Sneijder, Ruud van Nistelrooy.  That should be more that enough.  I think Robin probably comes off the bench so that Van Basten can have Engelaar and De Jong or Heitenga to slow down the Russian offense.  In any case, it’s going to be won on speed on the counter and which defense plays better.  I think the Dutch will be a bit more disciplined and, with Van der Sar in goal, should have enough to win the game.  Key matchup will be Zhirkov v Bouhlarouz.  I can’t imagine how he can focus enough to play after the tragedy he has just suffered. 

Pre-game prediction: Holland 3 Russia 1

Player of the game: Arjen Robben

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Netherlands vs Italy – Half time

Yes, it’s shocking that the Dutch are two up at the half. But what’s more shocking is that Ruud van Nistelrooy has missed two one on ones on top of that – this game should be long over. You could bet the house that Ruud would have had at least a double if not a hat trick by now with the chances he has had. That’s why Buffon is the world’s best keeper on the first chance. Anyway, a clear offside put the Dutch ahead and the second goal was a brilliant finish by Sneijder. That’s the only way you get past Buffon. However, as I pointed out in my earlier blog, I can’t go with an Italian defense that is not like the Italian defense of old. It showed on the second goal – where were Materazzi and Barzagli in closing down Sneijder? Other than Buffon and Di Natale, none of the Italians has done anything.

Donadoni, this is what you need to do. You have lost the midfield battle and Pirlo hasn’t had a touch. Bring in Aquilani and Del Piero for Ambrosini and Gattuso. Have Aquilani push up down the middle – he has a great shot. Maybe even substitute De Rossi for Zambrotta at the 60 minute mark if the score is the same and go to a back three. The Dutch back line is not that good. You have to put pressure – especially down the left wing where Bouhlarouz has no pace. Del Piero and Di Natale need to run at him.

This could get ugly if it’s 2-0 at around 60 minutes and the Italians have to press upfield….

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