World Cup 2006 - Holland v Serbia and Montenegro

Yesterday I watched the England game on a Spanish channel and was commenting on England’s lackluster second half performance. Although I speak a small amount of Spanish I didn't realize that the temperature was 30C, which would explain why the players were exhausted and unable to keep the high tempo of the game for the second half.

The high temperatures will not suit the English way of playing due to the historically high pace that the English like to play their football. I have always thought that the English team/fans/media put more emphasis on endeavour, tempo and the physical aspect of the game, rather than the quality and fluency that other teams such as Brazil so excel at. A visit to a premiership game in England can only verify this fact as fans get impatient when teams slow the game down and keep the ball for extended periods of time.

The heat could actually favour the red hot favourites Brazil (as if they need any more help), who are able to maximise their gains through the minimum amount of effort. The Dutch could also benefit as they have a style of play based around the possession of the ball, making the other teams work hard to defend and win the ball back, which inevitably means the opponents become fatigued. Although Mexico are yet to play, I imagine that they could be another team who could prosper in the intense heat of the German stadiums.

Swedens draw yesterday against Trinidad and Tobago was a real bonus for the English team who should be able to beat the West Indies team to pass comfortably through to the next round.

Me and the family have travelled to Ambergris Caye, one of the Tropical Islands of Belize, to spend a few days soaking up the sun and of course watching the world cup. Apparently the Resort owners and staff are all disappearing during the day, to be found hiding in some local bar to watch the games. I'm sure the quality of service at the resorts is going to plummet over the next month. Today it's the turn of the Dutch (my wifes home team) to turn on the style. And later on Iran, Mexico, Portugal and Angola all make their mark on the tournament.

It was interesting watching the Netherlands attacking line up, with the team opting to put 3 players up front, enabling them to push the Serbia and Montenegro team back, deep into their own half. The team formation though has the option to play as a 4-3-2-1 or 4-3-3 and in the event that the Dutch team comes under intense pressure they can change the side to 4-5-1 to provide extra defensive cover. It’s almost reminiscent of the great Dutch side of the 70s inspired by the Cruyff era of “total football”, where players are given the freedom to roam around the field, knowing that their colleagues will cover for them. Although this side has a lot more structure to the team line up.

The Netherlands put in an accomplished performance in their first game, kept the ball well, pushed the Serbia and Montenegro team back and will be a team to watch in this tournament.

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