domenica 6 luglio 2014

Van Gaal's gamble worked

That which Dutch manager Louis van Gaal did after 120 minutes into the quarter-final against Costa Rica, i.e. replacing No. 1 Jepser Cillessen with presumed penalty specialist Tim Krul, has been well highlighted by Rapahel Honigstein on Sitting the whole game on the bench then go in and save the penalties it’s no normal, as the same Krul pointed out. A previous experiment happened in Italy’s third tier in 1996, when Castel di Sangro’s head coach (maybe you heard it taking a look to The Miracle of Castel di Sangro book, written by Joe McGinniss) made a similar move to get a win that send his team into Serie B. Iran’s boss Amir Ghalenoei did the same a higher level when, during 2007 Asian Cup quarter finals against South Korea, he switched goalkeepers with Vahid Talebloo replacing starter Hassan Rodbarian. But that penalty shoot-out strategy didn’t work despite Talebloo saved one kick, as Iran missed two and went out. As noted earlier Krul is a presumed penalty kicks expert as he had stopped just two of 20 PKs for Newcastle United in the Premier League. By the way, one can argue that Cillesen had a worst record as he stopped 0 PKs in 16 attempts. Van Gaal and goalkeeping coach Frans Hoek rejected the idea this move was a bravado, insisting that Krul was always part of shootout plan and that he was better suited to handle this task both for his skills and for being taller than Cillesen. “Every player has certain skills and qualities and they don’t always coincide. We felt Tim would be the most appropriate keeper to save penalties,” Van Gaal told reporters after the game, “Tim has a longer reach and a better track record with penalties than Cillessen.” Honestly the height is not this big factor as Edwin Van der Saar is over again more tall than Cillessen and Krul but he still managed to save just 8 PKs during his whole career. Van Gaal looked like a genius as it paid off. But he was also smart enough fielding up a 3-4-3 formation that nullify Costa Rica 5-4-1. On the other side, Holland underperformed and Van Gaal has to be worried about the regression Dutch showed in their play. Is true that Dutch had some good scoring chances but they was modest against a weak Costa Rica team. This poor performance almost cost the Dutch a place in the semi-final. That said, putting a 6ft 4in new goalkeeper in front of Costaricans proved to be a smart move. Has he been really studied is hard to tell. Surely, Krul took the edge to be a netminder against some shooters in a penalty shout-out. Every penalty kick, especially after 120 minutes of play, is a battle of nerves. Goalkeeper got the edge as there is little pressure on his shoulder. Should the penalty taker score, it would have been not considered a goalkeeper’s mistake. It doesn’t means he’s even save from  criticism. Sometime goalkeepers get the blame for underperforming during those situations. Walter Zenga was highly scrutinized and criticized after for failing to save a single penalty kick during 1990 World Cup semi-final against Argentina. That’s happened when unknown Argentinian goalie Sergio Goycochea went out from nowhere, replacing injured starter Nery Pumpido, to stop two spotkicks against Yugoslavia and Italy.

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