domenica 8 settembre 2013

Holland with a father of modern football as manager

After an embarrassing group stage exit at EURO 2012, with 0 points earned in a three games stretch, the KNVB reappointed Louis van Gaal, one of the father of the modern football. After one year in charge, van Gaal restored the Oranje's identity: unbeaten, 22 goals scored and four allowed in their 2014 World Cup qualification group. After reaching France 1998 and Euro 2000 semi-finals, van Gaal is back to refresh the proud attacking football that characterized Dutch football from the glory days of  ‘70s. "The KNVB gave me a clear mission to play 'Dutch School' football and with the quality of this squad that must be possible," van Gaal told journalists. A preference for a passing game within a formation where is natural to build passing triangles all around...all this is Dutch. He did it building a classic and fluid 4-3-3, with wingers providing width and with a centre forward supported from two advanced midfielders playing just ahead of a single pivot. The 4-2-3-1 employed by former Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk, with two holding midfielders, were too much defensive. Then, van Gaal loaded his team with fresh blood and young players, usually better students than the olders. Feyenoord's Jordy Clasie, PSV Eindhoven's Adam Maher, Roma’s Kevin Strootman and Chelsea’s Marco van Ginkel support van Gaal’s ideology in his three-man midfield. Destructive holders as Mark Van Bommel and Nigel De Jong are gone. With Rafael van der Vaart and Siem de Jong as other options, Wesley Sneijder’s decreased role with the National team might be something to consider as van Gaal left him out from the squad he called for the 2014 World Cup games against Estonia and Andorra just to recall him following the injury which forced Georginio Wijnaldum out. The trademark of van Gaal's football is well clear yet. "They perfectly did everything a football team should do in my eyes," Pep Guardiola wrote in his autobiography. Barcelona’s tiki-taka credits the Dutchman. Marcelo Bielsa and his followers too have a van Gaal imprinting on their DNA.  "He's probably the most important and the best coach I ever had," Ajax manager Frank de Boer told L'Equipe before 1998 World Cup semi-final against Brazil. The most significant roster overhaul happened on the back four Daley Blind, Bruno Martins Indi and Stefan de Vrij are all part of a talented and young defence including also Miquel Nelom, Dwight Tiendalli and Erik Pieters. Up front, Robin Van Persie is now the undisputed centre forward. Van der Vaart, Jeremain Lens and Ruben Schaken are the Netherlands’ top goalscorers in the World Cup Qualifying stage. Ricky van Wolfswinkel is a reliable option. Van Gaal will step down after next World Cup bust still has the opportunity to put his stamp in a new generation of players once again.

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