The Dutch football team kick off their World Cup campaign against Spain in Brazil on Friday. The build-up in the Dutch media has been going on for days.

The expectations for Oranje, which lost the final 1-0 to Spain in South Africa in 2010, are not high, if the local media is to be believed.

Footie magazine Voetbal International quotes a worried Johan Cruyff as saying that ‘there hasn’t been enough time to prepare the team for a new way of playing’.

Coach Louis van Gaal is deviating from the tried and tested Dutch 4-3-3 system and the former Barcelona trainer thinks it’s not a good idea: ‘Not many teams dare play this type of game and that’s an advantage which will be lost. (..)

The players’ positions will now be completely different. Players will receive the ball in a position but we have to wonder if they can do anything with it’, he commented.


Australia coach Han Berger in the Telegraaf concurs: ‘A copy is never as good as the original. That was true for those who wanted to copy the Netherlands and perhaps true for the Dutch team in this championship. The old system is in our football dna and I think it’s a pity we should let it go.’

Retired player and lawyer Keje Molenaar is quoted as saying the Dutch team is ‘too dependent on top players Sneijder, Robben and Van Persie. If any of them are injured I don’t hold out much hope’.

The AD talked to Van Persie himself who is quoted as saying that although the Dutch team is young and inexperienced and Spain is a redoubtable opponent, he is optimistic: ‘They’re a fantastic team but we’re very good too!’

The team captain added: ‘There comes a moment when you have to find new players and Spain has had the same team for quite a long time now. I wonder how that will affect their performance.’


In the same paper Cruyff, who is attending the world hockey championship currently taking place in The Hague, comments in his own inimitable way that ‘Football could learn a thing or two from hockey’ before going on to say that both sports are completely different.

‘The quickness of hockey would be a good thing in football. In hockey you get the ball, play it and on you go. In football there’s always two or three people in the way.’

In the first instalment of NOS Football Studio, in which Dutch pundits will be commenting on the matches, no great hopes were held out for a Dutch victory against Spain.

Former player Youri Mulder said the Dutch team lacks defence skills and won’t be able to put pressure on Spain’s rapid midfield passing interchange. Former player Pierre van Hooijdonk said he hoped for a ‘positive draw’.

Volkskrant journalist Willem Vissers also commented on van Gaal’s change to a 5-3-2 system: ‘All his life Van Gaal has told others what to do. To be dominant, to jam the opposition. What he’s doing now is just counter football. For someone like Van Gaal to change to a system based on fear is very strange indeed.’


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