Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Netherlands 3-2 Uruguay. Instant Analysis: Healthy Doses of Luck & Precision Send Dutch To World Cup Final

Netherlands 3-2 Uruguay.

For the first 70 minutes the game was the tight, cagey affair that many expected, myself included. To that point it was essentially a 0-0 draw with 2 outlier thunderbolt goals from distance, one each from respective team captains Giovanni Van Bronkhorst (18th min) and Diego Forlan (41st min).

Most of the world media right now are talking about the 2nd Dutch goal where Robin Van Persie appeared to be slightly offsides and was involved in the goal as he swiped at it and tried to redirect it in. I haven't seen enough replays to convince me that he wasn't even with the defender and therefore onside, and I also think he got the slightest of touches and should be credited with the goal. Van Persie was even, not clearly offside, and the goal was lucky(deflection) but legitimate, and no it looks like RVP did not get a touch on it. Either way the goal stood, and a few minutes later Arjen Robben headed in a 3rd to apparently seal the game at 3-1, although that notion was dismissed when Uruguay scored a sweet curling goal in the 92nd minute to make it 3-2 and then had a furious onslaught in the final 100 seconds to try to force extra time, but in the end time ran out on their fairy tale run and Netherlands march on to the final.

But what most of the world missed, including the referee and his linesman, was the actual key to the game that should be controversial talking point #1, for it proved much larger than the non-offsides call on the 2nd Dutch goal. In the buildup to the opening goal by GVB, Mark Van Bommel, as he is wont to do, slyly got away with an incredibly dangerous and dirty 'tackle' that went unnoticed- he raked his cleats over a Uruguay player's knee, studs up, after the ball was long gone.

At an absolute bare minimum this should have been a yellow card, which would have negated the goal and left the game a cagey 0-0 affair. But if noticed, I'd say 6 of 10 referees in the world, including Graham Poll, would have given Van Bommel a straight red card, which would have turned the entire game in a major, major way, as:

1. GVB's wondergoal would never have happened, and it would still be 0-0.
2. Van Bommel would have been sent off, Holland reduced to 10 men for remaining 72 minutes
3. Holland would have prob had to tactically sub to replace their defensive midfielder, likely removing one of their 4 attacking players in the process, further reducing their chances and taking away 1 of 3 subs for 2nd half
4. Even if Holland went on to win, their key defensive midfielder and shield for their Achilles heel defense Van Bommel would have been suspended for the final.

Instead of that, it was 1-0 to Netherlands in the 18th minute and 11v11, and MVB went completely unpunished. The game then played out as it did and Holland went on to win.

You cannot say on the balance of play that they did not deserve to win. And their precision in all 3 goals was remarkable- all three went in off the post. However, that said, luck must also be acknowledged for the significant part it played for them today- the Van Bommel knee raking going unnoticed, the no call on the crucial 2nd goal, as well as the 2nd goal being a double (Sneijder's shot hit not 1 but 2 Uruguay defenders) and possibly even triple deflection (I think RVP also got the slightest of touches on it too) deflection off the defender that went in off the post. So for me equal parts precision and luck have vaulted Holland to the final. I'm not saying they shouldn't have won, and I'm not hating on them- hell they're making me look smarter than I am. I'm just being real, and also pointing out that perhaps the most significant moment of the match went unnoticed by the referee and his crew, and is now going largely unnoticed by the world media.

Other random thoughts:

1. GVB's opening thunderbolt goal from 35 yards out is the goal that Adidas executives were all fantasizing about when they gave birth to this franken-ball. Unfortunately for them it has turned out that 90% of strikes from distance, if not more, have been wildly off target and only a rare few knuckle in the right way to produce jaw-dropping goals.

2. Caceres' goal-saving tackle in the 31st minute in his own box to take an easy goal away from Arjen Robben, 2 minutes after he was given a yellow card for kicking De Zeeuw in the face, was ballsy, perfect, and amazing given the circumstances.

3. Diego Forlan is The Jabulani Tamer. He was the first one to noticeably figure it out, and even though today's dipping power shot from distance looks like it got the slightest of touches from the Dutch defender's head (see replay of goal from angle behind goalkeeper) and the free kick against Ghana was intended to bend into the upper left corner and then instead changed direction and bent the other way into the top right, he is still, given all other evidence from this collection of most talented footballers on the planet, THE JABULANI TAMER.

4. RVP does not lack for confidence, and that 2nd goal today was the least celebrated of his entire career- this can only be because he himself thought that he may very well have been offsides. It was just funny to see him so muted, usually he is jubilant and even boastful after his goals. Of course, maybe he knows he swung & missed, and was trying to convince the referee that he was not "actively involved" in the goal, but I think he may have gotten a tiny little touch that redirected it in off the post. Either way, he has never before and never again will celebrate a goal in such a muted way.

5. Arjen Robben must be given credit for dialing down the playacting, diving, simulation antics that were so over the top against Brasil. Yes he had a few, but I got the feeling that even he must have been embarrassed of his antics when he went back and watched video of the win over Brasil. Whatever the reason, credit to him for dialing it down by about 80%; we can only hope this continues in the final.

6. Europe is now guaranteed to win their 1st ever World Cup on foreign soil. Going into this 2010 World Cup, they were famously 9 for 10 in World Cups held on home soil (with Sweden as runners up to Brasil in 1958), while also going 0 for 8 in World Cups held outside of Europe. No matter what happens from here on out, Europe is now 1 for 9 away from home. And any and all talk as recently as a week & a half ago about how poorly Europe were doing is now laughable. Additionally, for the first time a team from the northern hemisphere will win a world cup held in the southern hemisphere; previously they had been 0 for 4, 0 for 6 if you include the two world cups held in Mexico.

7. At halftime ESPN had sweet crowd reaction shots to the goals from Amsterdam & Montevideo. It would have been even better if they could have shown similar reaction shots in the 2nd half. The reason they didn't is because like every other broadcaster on earth, they are paying for & getting the FIFA feed. They don't control the official game feed, so they couldn't just have their production team in the truck cut to those videos as desired. The only way you'll see such shots tomorrow or in the final is if the official feed sent out to the world by FIFA incorporate it themselves. Not likely.


Anonymous said...

Uruguay has the reputation of being a chippy, almost dirty, team. But today it was the Netherlands who dished out the wide majority of elbows, clutches, grabs and ruthless cleat-first fouls. Credit to La Celeste for manning up rather than diving and rolling around like harpooned seals ala Italy, Ghana, Spain, Portugal, Mexico and countless other teams in this WC.

The one goal definitely was offside when taking the ruling literally.Not crazy offside like the missed Tevex call, but offside is offside. He made an attempt at the ball. Period. Raise the flag and blow the whistle.

I still think the Dutch were slightly better on the day, but without the missed calls this could have been an even better match.

Anonymous said...

FIFA wants the bigger teams to win, holland were favored throughout the game, all those little decisions add up, and at the end change the outcome of a game. Van Bommel is a criminal, he should have been red carded against brazil and now again against uruguay, holland could barely beat a second string uruguay side, considering suarez, and lugano two of their key players were out. Also how badly did paraguay get cheated against Spain, with Valdez's goal that wasn't charged.

Anonymous said...

If you look at a slightly longer version of the play you can clearly see the Uruguay defenseman coming in and attempting to take out Van Bommel who, due to his much larger size, was able to stay upright. This was a foul on both players and therefor was not called by the referee. Either way, the Dutch greatly outplayed Uruguay by holding possession for longer, managing more shot on goal, and more corners.

Kanu said...

Anon 5.09.00 pm pdt-

Do you have video of the longer replay you describe? If so, please post it. All that is on YouTube right now is 3 different iterations of the 19 second one. I look forward to watching this tonight when they match is replayed.

Moreover, my point is not that the Dutch were undeserved winners, simply that what for me is the main talking point of the match, which would have *massively* changed the game, 1) went unseen and more importantly 2) is largely being ignored by the world mainstream media. I'm just trying to point out a major factor in the game that seems to be falling through the cracks. As I stated in the article, the Dutch overall played better and are likely deserved winners.

Eric said...

you must be a man u fan. that angry at mvb killing you in the CL

Eric said...

They don't control the official game feed, so they couldn't just have their production team in the truck cut to those videos as desired. The only way you'll see such shots tomorrow or in the final is if the official feed sent out to the world by FIFA incorporate it themselves. Not likely.

- pretty sure anyone with a feed can roll the tape back post game and make a replay. again, you're an idiot. keep up the good work

Kanu said...

Thanks for stopping by Eric! I'm so impressed that you were able to figure out what a big ManU fan I am after being on this site only a few minutes- so perceptive!

And thank you for making my point for me again, that ESPN can roll back the tape and show celebrations *post game* as you so smartly stated, but not during the actual telecast. Thank you for saving the other readers from my idiocy by restating the exact point that I made.

Please come back often and continue to honor us with your extensive wisdom. Have a great day!

Maury said...

Just at the replay of the first goal, Eric.

The Uruguayan was definitely going for the ball as it was being crossed and MvB went after the Uruguayan rather than the ball. The Ref did see it but told the player to get back up if you see from his hand gestures.

In his mind this was a good challenge on the ball? That is a load of bullcrap. I knew the Dutch would win this game, but not like this. They played very unsportsmanlike and I hope Spain or Germany give them what they need right now, a major asswhooping.

mario said...

I disagree with your impression about the van Persie offside.

From FIFA:
"What does interfering with an opponent mean? The International Football Association Board defines it as - preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by obstructing the opponent’s line of vision or movements,"

Van Persie was clearly obstructing the goalie's line of vision. OFFSIDE.

Kanu said...


So every instance where the goalkeeper's view is obstructed is automatically offside? It sounds like that is where your line of argument leads, and I'm not willing to go there. Just like in hockey, soccer goalkeepers are "screened" (view blocked) all the time. What you are saying is that goals resulting from the goalkeeper's view of the shot being impaired would all be disallowed. And what if the attackers were all onside but the goalkeepers vision was impaired by an attacking player- what then?

moinllieon said...

There's a difference between being screened and being screened by a player in the offside position. Consider if that's allowed, teams could literally have one player do nothing but stand face-to-face against the keeper. He won't turn around so he's never involved in the play. I've no idea if it's a sound strategy, but there shouldn't be a loophole in the rule that allows that.