Dutch run out of ideas as Argentines advance

By Mike Woitalla

The Dutch came into the semifinal after going 120 scoreless minutes against Costa Rica and needing a shootout to advance. The Argentines mustered only one goal against Belgium in their 1-0 round-of-16 win.

Argentina enjoyed a home team environment and enough Dutch Orange-clad fans arrived in Sao Paulo to rock Arena Corinthians. The action on the field did not match the atmosphere in the stands.

By the time Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir started getting the shootout ready, the Dutch had completed four hours of scoreless soccer. The Argentines had gone nearly three and a half since hitting the net.

This scoreless tie was pretty much a stalemate. The Dutch had three shots on goal, the Argentines five. Neither goalkeeper had to make a difficult save. Neither team ever took charge or ever looked a likely victor.

And both teams’ main and usually brilliant attackers, Lionel Messi and Arjen Robben, delivered average performances, exposing the limitations of their supporting casts.

But in the shootout, Argentina keeper Sergio Romero saved efforts from Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneijder. The Argentines were perfect: Messi, Ezequiel Garay, Sergio Aguero and Maxi Rodriguez.

Argentina is going to its first final since finishing runner-up in 1990 to West Germany. The Argentines face the Germans on Sunday at Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. The Dutch face Brazil, the 7-1 semifinal loser to Germany, in Saturday’s third-place game.

The Dutch will be thinking about …

Their disappearing offense. The Netherlands’ start to this World Cup -- denting defending champion Spain’s net five times in the opener and finishing group play with 10 goals -- now feels like ancient history. The Dutch had counterattack opportunities that stopped coming as the tournament went on. And Robin van Persie, who scored three first-round goals including the famous diving header, has now in his fifth major tournament, including two Euros, failed to score in the second round.

Their coach’s tactics. Pre-tournament criticism of Coach Louis Van Gaal’s 5-3-2 lineup as being too defense-minded dissipated quickly because the wing backs Daley Blind and Dirk Kuyt attacked so much, and then Van Gaal was hailed as super clever for subbing in goalkeeper Tim Krul for the Costa Rica shootout. Today the defense bunkered down, the attack listless, Krul stayed on the bench -- and Van Gaal no longer looks like a genius.

The Argentines will be thinking about …

The other semifinal. For sure, the Argentines will be pleased at having survived two strong teams in Belgium and the Netherlands, the runner-up four years ago. But those seven goals that Germany banged in against the host send a pretty clear message that the Argentines must figure out how break down a defense, not just depend stifling the foe while hoping that Messi rediscovers his Midas Touch.

16 comments about "Dutch run out of ideas as Argentines advance".
  1. Ramon Creager, July 9, 2014 at 8:15 p.m.

    "...and then Van Gaal was hailed as super clever for subbing in goalkeeper Tim Krul for the Costa Rica shootout." Funny how you can seem a genius when you get lucky. I see it another way: after 120 grueling minutes Van Gaal had only used 2 of his three subs. Really? Did he not have any depth on his bench? or was he playing for the shoot-out all along? Seems to me a better use of that sub would have been to insert fresh legs into his attack. Instead he opted for the lottery.

  2. G O, July 9, 2014 at 10:44 p.m.

    A true dullsville match. Hardly worth watching or spending the precious time. Very difficult to believe that most of these players grasped that a ticket to the final was on the line. Nor could they capitalize on the terribly medicore performance of the opponents. Surely there was much to exploit there to be a World Cup hero. Why was di Maria on the bench the whole time? Good riddance to van Gaal. He is NOT a good coach for Oranje. He killed the offense. Germans win 2 - 0 on Sunday. No need to watch. Argentina looks horrid.

  3. Steven SIegel, July 9, 2014 at 11:06 p.m.

    DIMaria was out with an injury. Maybe a groin strain. Aguero, who sat out previously becasue of injury, looked severly limited as a sub.

    Messi played up very high in this game, and the Dutch had no problem in shutting him down. I am surprised Sebella did not drop him back further into midfield after his no-show first half so that he could get the ball at his feet more.

  4. Santiago 1314, July 10, 2014 at 6:58 a.m.

    Van Gaal Blew it...He Psyched his own team out...Van Persie and De Jong were Never going to last 120 minutes,coming off Sickness and Pulled Grion...So Why did they Start???... That was 2 subs already used before the Kick-off...Then to compound the error, Van Gaal used his 3rd Sub at Halftime...That meant No Krul Keeper and No Van Persie for the Pks...That meant Vraal became First Shooter for Holland instead of Van Persie...Argentina Coach Saved Aguero for the 80th minute and OT/Pks...Was Krull so Bad that he Couldn't Start for Holland...He is Starting GK in the BPL(Newcaslte???)...The Curse of '74 continues...Whaaaa!!!.... Oh p.s. as I have been saying:; WEAKEST WORLD CUP EVER!!! Now do you ask see how Klinsmann Screwed Up...We could have Snuck into a WC final, if he hadn't have Messed Up by Leaving off a Replacement for Jozy...Thereby Condemning Dempsey to Purgatory as Lone Ranger, and Throwing Years of Preparation Out The Window....Double Whaaaa !!!

  5. Barry Ulrich, July 10, 2014 at 10:20 a.m.

    By the time teams reach the Round of 16, players are becoming exhausted, especially those whose teams have had to go into OT. Why does the tournament adhere to 3 substitutes? Why not allow 5 or even up to 7 during this stage of the WC? The old argument that substitutes bring down the level of play no longer holds true. We've witnessed subs who have dramatically improved the game by their movement and scoring. And isn't this is what the spectators want and have paid to see?

  6. Santiago 1314, July 10, 2014 at 11:24 a.m.

    ***And Now<> We find out that Van Gaal Knew/Trained the Argentina GK at AZ** WOW...You can't make this Sh!t Up!!!! Van Gaal got his Comeuppance...No Wonder Cruyff Hates Him...Gonna be Fun at ManU next year with Van Persie, Van Gaal and Rooney...Taking Bets for who is Out The Door FIRST...

  7. Santiago 1314, July 10, 2014 at 11:32 a.m.

    REPOST**commented on: July 7, 2014 at 12:01 p.m.
    "IF" we are going to pull a Hillary and "Suspended All Disbelief" then let's throw Common Sense to the Wind and Play the "IF" game on Overtime...... A few Extra Substitutes in Overtime, will only lead to more Time Wasting and Help the Weaker Team to Bunker Bus better... Also, you will see more "KRUL" Keepers...Except they will be 7ft-7 Yao Mings, who NEVER Play, Except to be Substituted for the PKs...Think Designated Hitter......**INSTEAD ** Allow FREE BIOMETRIC UNlimited Substitutions, ON THE FLY... Like Hockey or Indoor Soccer...Kind of like Tag Team...Just touch the iTablet to get OUT/OFF and the Replacement Player Touches the iTablet too get IN...ON THE FLY!!!... NO TIME WASTING NEEDED TO HOLD UP SOME STUPID NUMBERS... Wouldn't we All like to a Thierry Henry on the Field for France for 10 minutes... He was Freakin Incredible vs The Dynamo on Friday... What would a World Cup look like if the "Older" STAR Players could be brought on for Spurts of 10-15-20 Minutes??? Sure would be a lot more Entertaining/Exciting than watching this Crap!!!... Imagine**Ronaldinho, Kaka, Defoe, Beckham, Donovan,... List could go On and On and On... Might need to increase the Roster to 25...Big Whoopie!!! ... FIFAs Got the Money....Give the Fans what they want to see!!!... STAR PLAYERS, Not 9 Automatons, Running 12k a game and NOT being SMART enough to Beat a HIGH SCHOOL Offside Trap... Just saying!?!?!

  8. Lou vulovich, July 10, 2014 at 11:48 a.m.

    The reason you don't see any offense out of Holland is because other then Robben they have no players of any individual ability. All european teams are made up of the same players 9 defenders and one or two attackers. Dirk Kuyt ran towards his goal with the ball more often then he ran towards the Argentina goal. for every ball played forward there are 3 played back. No individual ability no dribblers no creative players. Tactics and tactical fouls with no consequence from referees are what the game has turned into. Credit to South American teams they still try to play a little soccer, while Euro teams play with NO RISK BORING DISGUSTING SOCCER. INCLUDING GERMANY. Most of the games are equivalent to watching two basketball teams with no shot clock keeping the ball for 5 minutes at a time hoping to win 10-8 last second. Boring (shit Football) can't belive people pay to see these games. Coaches and referees have too much influence on the game. Give it back to the great players everyone wants to see.

  9. I w Nowozeniuk, July 10, 2014 at 2:01 p.m.

    You mourners and complainers can't get satisfaction no matter what. It was a semi after an exhaustive schedule, defense has to prevail. I bet you guys loved the Brazil v Germany game which after 25 minutes became more of a bore. Many great players were marked out crucial games by solid defenses, and in this case it was no different. It takes special players to break down a defense, let me repeat PLAYERSSSSS, and both squads did not have them. SH%* happens in sports, society, economy, religion and politics. Get a grip on reality people. And if you can't go dream about the Wizard of Oz.

  10. Lou vulovich, July 10, 2014 at 2:08 p.m.

    It is easy to put 3 or 4 players to defend a Messi or Robben, because with the exception od DiMaria all other players are shit. Attacking of course as they all can defend. Kick,grab,elbow etc. Great football

  11. Lou vulovich, July 10, 2014 at 2:16 p.m.

    To I w N. That is what everyone is complaining about the shit players and shit soccer. Not sure what you are trying to say.No Germany game is worth watching. You might as well watch 2 old men take 5 hours to play a chess game to see which one will make a mistake first. Total Joke.

  12. Nancy Carr-swaim, July 10, 2014 at 2:16 p.m.

    Santiago, I agree with you on having a lot more subs! How about letting a subbed player return as well?? Looks like Netherlands fizzled a bit since the beginning of the tournament and Argentina slowly got a bit better. Not exciting but steady.

  13. I w Nowozeniuk, July 10, 2014 at 7:13 p.m.

    Nancy C-S, I've proposed many times 3 subs for the OT, however, your suggestion is a bit questionable; in most cases a player is usually replaced for not contributing.

    Lou V...the game speaks for itself, when quality players are ABLE to seize the moment, they do so, and everyone rejoices; but left alone without support they can be marked out of the game. Unfortunately for u et al, neither of the teams were able to score that first goal in order to induce a more wide open game. So be it. But u have to admit that the defenses ruled on the day. And I do agree that some of the players on the pitch did not perform to expectations. Either it wasn't their day, or they could not cope with the pressure. That doesn't necessarily mean that they are 'dung-players', surely u must agree with that.

  14. Lou vulovich, July 10, 2014 at 8:05 p.m.

    Let me correct myself. The players are restricted from expressing themselves by shit coaches from 12 year olds all the way to world cup semifinals. We saw some great games in the round of 16 because the underdogs pushed and tried to win. All the big boys were crap as usual. I have gone to two professional games in the last 2 years and left at half time. I could not imagine paying 10K to travel and see Holland vs Argentina, total joke, like many games. Simple as that. Give the game back to the players not the GENERALS on the sideline. 20 years ago you had 50 fantastic players today you have 4 or 5 at best. AND SHRINKING

  15. Ramon Creager, July 10, 2014 at 8:29 p.m.

    As for subs, I've always believed that if you go to extra time you ought to get at least one more sub, maybe two. If there is concern over making subs to waste time, then restrict the subs to prior to the ET periods. I understand the rationale to limiting substitutions, but by this time, after 90 minutes of play, play becomes ragged and some fresh legs may lead to fewer PK deciders.

  16. Santiago 1314, July 10, 2014 at 11:12 p.m.

    Yes Nancy, Unlimited Subs and Re-Entry...I Agree...**LOU, Right On! Right On!!, RIGHT ON!!!

Next story loading loading..