Arjen Robben

Brazil 0-3 The Netherlands: Dutch delight while hosts limp to fourth placed finish

The Netherlands finished the 2014 World Cup as the third best team thanks to a 0-3 win over hosts Brazil with goals from Robin Van Persie, Daley Blind and Georginio Wijnaldum.

Van Persie’s second minute penalty gave the Netherlands the lead in the traditional tournament match that many consider a dead rubber as Brazil’s hangover from their Semi Final thrashing continued to linger.

Arjen Robben was fouled by Thiago Silva in an incident that appeared to occur outside the box but one thing that was certain was that the Brazil Captain should have seen red for the second time this summer as he was the last man.

He was only shown a yellow card however and Van Persie dispatched the resulting spot-kick past a despondent Julio Cesar.

Silva’s new Paris Saint-Germain teammate David Luiz’s poor from continued when he headed Jonathan De Guzman’s cross into the path of Blind who calmly slotted home a second for the Dutch on 17 minutes.

2002 Champions Brazil conceded their tenth goal in two games when Daryl Janmaat’s low cross was diverted past Cesar’s near post by Wijnaldum.

Ramires came closest for Brazil when he shot wide just before the hour mark after leaving Ron Vlaar in his wake.

Oscar thought he had won a penalty for Luiz Felipe Scolari’s dejected squad but was booked for simulation. The Chelsea man knocked the ball past Blind and the two clashed knees but the referee Djamel Haimoudi of Algeria indicated there was no wrongdoing.

Blind himself was carried off injured following the clash.

Like most other matches involving Holland this World Cup, Robben believed he was due a penalty, this time after being tugged by Fernandinho but the referee said no again.

Louis Van Gaal diminished the importance of the third place playoff game before kick-off but will have little qualms with his side finishing in the football equivalent of a bronze medal place as he embarks on his forthcoming Manchester United career.

The Netherlands 2-1 Mexico

Two late goals from Wesley Sneijder and Klaas Jan Huntelaar provided Dutch delight as Holland reached the last eight with a 2-1 win over Mexico.

Louis Van Gaal’s exciting side sealed the win deep into added time when Huntelaar converted a penalty won by Arjen Robben. The player of the tournament contender was fouled by Rafael Marquez but with minimal contact. Robben showing the other meaning to his “Flying Dutchman” nickname.

Ex-Tottenham midfielder Giovanni Dos Santos provided the opener for the Mexicans three minutes into the second half with a long distance half volley that gave Jasper Cillessen no chance in the Holland goal.

Sneijder equalized for the Netherlands with an equally impressive half volley, Robben’s corner was headed back by substitute Huntelaar into the path of the Galatasaray play-maker who let the ball bounce before smashing it past Guillermo Ochoa and in with two minutes left on the clock.

On what was ultimately a sad day for Mexico, Goalkeeper Ochoa provided one shining light for El Tri, another superb performance from him to illustrate further his credentials as being named the ‘keeper of this World Cup.

His highlight being when he magnificently kept out a Stefan de Vrij header that he tipped onto the bar and out from point blank range.

It is Holland who go onto the Quarter Finals however and they will meet the victor of Costa Rica and Greece.

 

Australia 2-3 The Netherlands: Holland hopes grow with second successive win

Holland just managed to overcome a determined Australia side 2-3 with goals from Arjen Robben, Robin Van Persie and Memphis Depay. The result looks to have all but eliminated Australia from the 2014 World Cup.

Flying Dutchman Arjen Robben opened the scoring when he drilled past Matthew Ryan inside the area following a fine solo run from the halfway line after 20 minutes.

Tim Cahill leveled for Australia with perhaps the goal of the tournament so far a minute later when he hit a superb volley inside the box that thundered past Jasper Cilessen and went in off the underside of the bar from Matthew Leckie’s cross.

Australia took a shock lead eight minutes into the second half from a Mile Jedinak penalty that was accurately slotted to Cilessen’s right, the Dutch Goalkeeper guessing the right way but it was out of reach. Leroy Fer’s handball was the cause of the spot kick.

Much like Australia in the first half, Holland hit back soon after conceding, five minutes after Jedinak’s penalty, Van Persie smashed home the equalizer following Depay’s neat pass. The goal could have easily been prevented but Jason Davidson switched off from Australia’s defensive line and played the Manchester United forward onside.

Depay won the match for Holland on 68 minutes when his swerving shot from distance squirmed under Ryan who really could have done better.

It came just seconds after the Socceroos had a chance to win the game for themselves. Tommy Oar was clean through on goal with the chance to shoot but instead opted to cross to Leckie who, off balance, headed straight at Cilessen with the goal gaping.

The Netherlands’ win came at a cost though, Bruno Martins Indi, who played admirably in the 1-5 demolition of Spain was stretchered off just before the break after a clash with Cahill, who received a booking for his trouble. Martins Indi now has a nervous wait to find out if he has a tournament future.

Have Chelsea finally found Claude Makelele’s successor in Nemanja Matic?

Image

Michael Essien, John Obi Mikel, Oriol Romeu. Chelsea have tried and failed to find the man to fill Claude Makelele’s boots since his 2008 departure. While the trio have had relative success in the heart of Chelsea’s midfield, none of them have come close to having the influence Makelele did. In Nemanja Matic though, Chelsea may have found the solution.

Claude Makelele arrived at Stamford Bridge in the Summer of 2003 for a fee of £16.8 million after being outcast by Real Madrid as they denied his request of a better contract and continued building their “Galacticos” squad without him. The defining mistake by Florentino Perez and possibly the main reason why Real failed to add to their ninth Champions League win in 2002 where Makelele was a regular.

We will not miss Makélelé. His technique is average, he lacks the speed and skill to take the ball past opponents, and 90% percent of his distribution either goes backwards or sideways. He wasn’t a header of the ball and he rarely passed the ball more than three metres. Younger players will arrive who will cause Makélelé to be forgotten.” – Perez (2003)

On arriving in West London, then Chelsea coach Claudio Ranieri said of Makelele that he would be “the battery” of the Chelsea side, and right he was too. Thanks to the Frenchman, and Chelsea’s other signings that year in the first season under Roman Abramovich’s era, Chelsea finished Premiership runners up and reached the Champions League semi finals for the first time ever, losing to Monaco who would go on to be beat by Jose Mourinho’s Porto in the final.

Mourinho was appointed Chelsea manager the following season of course and under him, Chelsea would transform into the European superpower we know them as today. Makelele blossomed in Mourinho’s style of play, his defensive work, along with a solid back five of Petr Cech, Paulo Ferreira, Ricardo Carvalho, John Terry and William Gallas, meant that Chelsea conceded just 15 goals all season while his passing ability allowed players such as Frank Lampard, Arjen Robben, Joe Cole, Damien Duff and Didier Drogba to attack the opposition at will. “The Makelele role”, as it would be known, was born.

Image

Every team across the land it seemed was after their very own Claude Makelele. Liverpool signed Javier Mascherano, Arsenal opted for Alex Song, Manchester United acquired Michael Carrick while Tottenham snapped up Didier Zokora. Although three quarters of these signings were no doubt successful (Zokora being the exception), none of them were, or are, as good as Makelele.

The role has been adapted slightly in modern times with the fancy named “Deep Lying Playmaker” or “Regista” role being the latest fashionable term. Well known “DLPs” are Cesc Fabregas, Luka Modric and Jack Wilshere while Sergio Busquets is regarded as an efficient Regista.

Makelele continued to shine in a Chelsea shirt for the next three seasons but his last game was to come, aptly in Chelsea’s first ever Champions League final, the 2008 clash with Manchester United. It would only have been more fitting if Chelsea had won that night in Moscow’s Red City, to give the mercurial Frenchman the greatest of send offs, much like Drogba’s in 2012.

Chelsea’s number four departed West London for Paris Saint Germain where he spent three seasons, won a Coupe de France in 09/10 and retired the following year to become Assistant Manager, which he remains as today.

Nemanja Matic put pen to paper on a four year deal at Chelsea in 2009 for a £1.5 million fee having spent time on trial at Middlesbrough and he was clearly signed as 2006 World Cup runner up Makelele’s long term replacement. Matic made two appearances in his first spell as a Chelsea player before joining feeder club Vitesse Arnhem on loan where he scored twice in 27 games for the Eridivisie club. Having failed to make a mark on the Premier League though he was sold to Benfica in a player plus cash deal worth £21 million plus David Luiz.

Matic announced himself onto the European stage in the Portuguese Capital, scoring six goals in 56 games over the course of three seasons, including one strike against Porto that finished second in the Puskas Award (given to the year’s best goal) of last season, losing out to Zlatan Ibrahimovich’s acrobatic effort against England before rejoining the 2012 Champions League winners for £21 million in January of this year.

Like Makelele, Matic has the ability to break down the play and slow down the midfield to tire the opposition with accurate passing to support his pinpoint tackles, and what’s more intimidating for his rivals is that Matic might even become better than his predecessor. He’s more dynamic than Makelele was and at a younger age too, and more impressively, is a larger threat going forward making him a more versatile player than his French counterpart. Already this season we’ve seen the Serbian crack the woodwork from long range against Manchester City at the Etihad and have a goal disallowed against Aston Villa for a questionable handball. Makelele only scored two goals in a Chelsea shirt, a rebounded Penalty against Charlton (which he originally had saved) and an 18 yard curler against Tottenham, which as great as it was, was his only shot of the entire season.

With Nemanja Matic the latest man being given the job of controlling the Blues’ midfield and so far looking more in control than anyone has in a good while, Chelsea seem to have finally found the man who has filled the Claude Makelele shaped void in the centre of the pitch.