Holland under think and over attack v Portugal

Holland crashed out of the Euro’s with 0 points, and despite being unlucky against Denmark, their final game against Portugal demonstrated glaring tactical naivety that was comfortably punished by a basic counter attack from Ronaldo and Nani.

Despite needing a two goal victory, it is difficult to justify Van der Vaart starting along with Sneijeder, RVP, Robben and Huntelaar. Whilst at least convential wisdom would dictate that more attackers is conducive to more chances and goals, it was utterly ignorant of cohesion and structure that provides a platform for attacks to be built. And there is no cohesive way of fitting all those in when each offered so little defensively. Likewise, playing de Jong as the only defensive-minded midfield player isnt just attacking, it’s gung-ho and top heavy. Holland would have been better off playing 4-2-3-1, with another midfielder instead of VDV, being defensively sound and then gambling later in the second half, rather than throwing away defensive structure for Galactico-esque player selection.

Holland’s attacks consisted of de jong having the ball in the centre, Portugal regrouping well to get bodies behind the ball, de jong seeing a host of attacking players ahead of him with little beneficial movement, and finding no consistent, effective or creative way of moving the ball to attack. Yet even with good movement, de Jong is hardly the most inventive player. Thus it is with some irony then that with Sneijder, VDV, RVP and Robben Holland had four playmaking players on the pitch, yet because they were positioned so far forward and were operating selfishly (perhaps they do not know any better either) de Jong ended up being the playmaker by default. Furthermore, should he lose the ball in the middle of the pitch, he was the only backwards working player to support the Holland defence.

The tactics may have made sense in ill-thought-out theory, but in practicality, playing five forwards was only going to work if Holland were committed to being proactive, more ball retaining and hard working. And these four factors did not co-exist.

Above: Holland’s attacking players were so far ahead of the ball that linking midfield (de Jong on his own) with attack was nearly impossible, especially for a destroyer defensive midfielder.

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