Tag Archives: van der sar

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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Turkey v Czech Republic – post game

A Tale of Two Halves. Turkish Delight. Bounced Czech. We Don’t Accept Cechs. Let’s Kahveci.  Any one of these could be the headline.  I choose – ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?!!!

I have never seen a major international tournament match finish like that.  The closest proxy was France vs W. Germany in a World Cup 1982 semifinal when France went two goals up in extra time only for the Germans to pull them both back and win it in penalties.  But that went to penalties and the Germans did not score the tying goal with two minutes to go. Yes, the Turks were pressing the whole second half.  However, they did fall behind 2-0 against the run of play on a very good finish by Plasil off a Sionko cross.  This after Koller blew a breakaway by not backheeling it to his trailing teammate and instead missing the near post with a left foot shot. This before Polak almost made it 3-0 by blasting a pass by Sionko onto the post and getting kicked in the head when he went for the rebound.  This game should have been over.

Instead, young Turan scored for the second time in two games to bring it back to 2-1 with 15 minutes to go.  CH12 is still feeling good – hey, this is the score I predicted. NOTE TO GAMBLERS – CH12’s predictions are brilliant if you can place bets for the first 88 minutes or so of regulation.  All bets are off once we get to the last two minutes of regular time and injury time. 

Now here come the Turks. However, when Cetin missed an open header from inside the six yard box to tie it up, I thought that was it.  But, no.  The second best goalkeeper in the world – Cech is behind Buffon (and probably behind Van der Sar and Casillas at this point) – drops a simple cross (don’t blame the rain – the man has played in England for the last four years!) for Nihat to poke it in and tie it. Well, okay, the Turks deserved the equalizer based on the game so far.  Penalty kicks it is.  But, no. Nihat makes a brilliant finish off the underside of the bar with Jankulovski trying to play him offside.  Looked offside to me.  Game over.  Unbelievable.  But, no. We were then subjected to Volkan pushing Koller, getting a red card and Tuncay having to play goalkeeper since Turkey had used up its substitutes.  You can’t make this stuff up.  All we needed was for a Czech cross to be spilled by Tuncay, Koller to score and then go to penalty kicks with Tuncay saving the last kick to put Turkey through. Half of Turkey might have suffered fatal heart attacks by then, so it’s good that that didn’t happen. 

Turkey is through. They will play Croatia in the quarter finals. Don’t worry about Volkan not being there for the quarter final – he’s better at saving penalties than normal shots.  He flubbed two against Sevilla and, while they were tough saves to have to make, should have gotten the second goal after having gotten his hands to both. It’s time for the bench to step up and they have the veteran Rustu Recber, who was so key to their 2002 World Cup run to play between the posts.

I said this was about matchups.  Nihat and Tuncay both came through. Turan came through. Koller came through (no Baros). Rozenhal came through.  Cetin was so so but by and large did his job against Koller.  Sionko was very good.  It came down to the keepers and, unfortunately, Cech made the big error. 

CH12 must be dyslexic and read the crystal ball backwards.  What he meant to say was 3 to 2 would be the score in the Czech/Turkey game and not the Portugal/Switzerland game and vice versa…;)  Anyway, that was a fun day.  Oh, by the way, the Swiss beat Portugal 2-0 with Yakin scoring both (I did predict they would score two goals!).  Thanks for hosting the tournament – we have some nice parting gifts.

Pre-game predictions: Czech Republic 2 Turkey 1, Portugal 3 Switzerland 2

Result: Czech Republic 2 Turkey 3

Scorers: Arda Turan, Nihat Kahveci (2) (Turkey) Jan Koller, Jaroslav Plasil (Czech Republic)

Result: Portugal 0 Switzerland 2

Scorers: Hakan Yakin (2) (Switzerland)

If Germany v Austria provides this kind of drama, we are not going to get to Tuesday alive.  BTW, both games have meaning, I believe, since if Austria beats Germany and Poland beats Croatia, Poland and Austria would be in the reckoning for the second spot in Group B.  Too bad they can’t then fly to a neutral stadium and have penalties to decide the tiebreaker… 

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Holland vs France – post game

Now that was a fun game to watch. The 2008 Dutch model reminds me a lot of the 2000 model – exciting to watch, with fantastic technique and movement going forward. I still have questions about the middle of the defense and the holding midfielder, Engelaar, didn’t really stem the flow of the French down the middle of the park.

However, they are through as the winner of Group C, which means they will probably play either Russia or Sweden in the quarter finals. They can beat both those teams, which means they will either play Italy or France or Spain in the semi finals. They have beaten the first two handily and I have doubts that Spain’s central duo can keep this squad from scoring. I don’t know that Ooijer and Mathijsen can keep Torres and Villa off the scoreboard either, but based on current form, I am a believer in the Dutch. So it’s looking good for the Dutch to get to the finals. Normally, you would be concerned with the Dutch in knockout matches given their poor record in penalties. However, this team has great penalty takers – Ruud, Van Persie, Gio Van Bronckhorst, Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder and Rafael Van der Vaart – and Van Der Sar is one goalkeeper I would have all the confidence in the world in, given his recent winning save in the Champions League Final in Moscow.

France outplayed Holland – yes, I will refer to them as Holland till they lose (and the dead match against Romania doesn’t count since they will probably rest some of their starters and players on yellow cards) – for the first 60 minutes and had the bulk of possession during that period. However, as so often happens, the Dutch had two real chances and put in two goals while the French couldn’t put away their chances much like Italy couldn’t against Romania. Henry, in particular, was wasteful. I don’t understand why the strikers at Euro 2008 aren’t rounding the keeper on breakaways. With his speed, he should have gone around Van der Sar. He chose to try to lob it instead. Why, Thierry, would you lob with the top of the boot instead of sidefooting the lob given that you had enough time and space? One has so much more control when one does that. Instead, he put it over the crossbar. Yes, Ooijer should have been penalized for his handball off Henry’s blast, but c’est la vie. There is no way France should have given up goal #3 to Robben within a minute of cutting it to 2-1… and the angle he scored from was hard to swallow. People are blaming Coupet, but sometimes, you just have to admit that a blast to the top of the goal from that angle is unexpected and hard to stop when struck with that pace. You just can’t get your palms up fast enough to push it over the top of the bar or block it back.

Domenech, you are terrible. No Nasri or Benzema. Can’t you see that your old guys aren’t getting it done – look at the Dutch team to get a clue? And you play Maka the whole game when you are trailing. Terrible decision making. I hope Les Blues fire you and bring in Laurent Blanc or Didier Deschamps as coach of the national team.

On the other hand, Marco van Basten, you are the MAN. I LOVE YOUR SUBSTITUTIONS. I suggested you get more speed in midfield by bringing on Robben or Van Persie in the second half. You bring on BOTH! Forget protecting the lead. You rightly believed that a good defense is a good offense. Fans, like CH12, bray for that all the time, but then we don’t have the pressure to get results. Few coaches ever subscribe to that cliched philosophy. But, you did – the cynics may say you already know you are leaving for Ajax after the tournament, so what the heck. However, it was brilliant and that’s why I am rooting for the Dutch to win the Euros 20 years after they last won it in 1988, when Van Basten scored one of the most unbelievable goals ever in the final against Russia (“rooting” not predicting – this is the Dutch team after all). If you think Robben’s angle was tight, check out that goal. So your two subs combine to score the second goal and Robben scores the third. Wesley, master strike for the fourth goal. The final compliment is to Ruud – the Zidane-step-on-the-ball-and-spin for a pass move!?? Who knew?! It absolutely set up Robben’s lane down the wing and led to the second goal.

Pre-game prediction: France 2 Holland 1

Result: France 1 Holland 4 ( “If one is going to be wrong, sometimes it is best to be spectacularly so” – CH12 June 13, 2008 )

Scorers: Dirk Kuyt, Robin Van Persie, Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder (Holland) Thierry Henry (France)

Man of the match for Holland was Arjen Robben; for France: Ribery again.

CH12 is now 6 and 8. Got to come back strong tomorrow to get back to even. Maybe I will use Van Basten’s philosophy and go with the thought that the best defense is to go with the offense…

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