BfB Goes To The World Cup 2010 (Without leaving the front room)

One wonders what the Dutch supporters think of their side which has yet to – and has yet to be called to – break a sweat and while European top ten sides around them fall in France, Italy and England they continue in seemingly healthy form.

They play the Slovakians who took a chunk out of themselves to beat the Italians but have a team which can defend and has some talent in attack with Róbert Vittek dangerous in both finishing and size. Vladimír Weiss is a talent too – 20 years old and the son of the manager – and from his run Erik Jendrišek lashes over.

The Dutch have Arjen Robben back although the 25 year old – a contrast to the fresh faced Weiss Robben looks at least thirty, if not older – has yet to convince that his reputation is well earned. The team exchange a few yearly chances and the Slovakians look impressively brazen not fearing the Dutch.

The Dutch’s response to this is weak. The ball starts to be given away too often and the team look disjointed. They hack a long ball clear to Robben on the right wing who takes the ball in back the right sided centre back Ján Durica who tracks inside but cannot block the low drive which beats Ján Mucha.

The Dutch have got out of jail after an opening twenty minutes which left them looking weak but the goal underlines their status as a favourite for the tournament. They score with confidence lacking in those other three European nations but as they do one recalls Nigel De Jong’s first game fouling which should have resulted in a red card and contemplates the nature of good fortune and refereeing decisions in who will win this World Cup 2010.

The Slovaks make most of the running in the game but look like they could be sliced open when the pace of Robin van Persie breaks. They are forced to chase the game and leave space which Robben and Wesley Sneijder look to exploit.

Slovakia have – perhaps – looked at the English and Mexican attempts to restore parity and tried to stay strong and in the game although that they can is down to a great save by Mucha’s face from van Persie’s shot following great work from Robben who is the best player on the field by some way.

Indeed Robben has a chance which sees him cut the ball just wide at the start of the second half and the Dutch seem to be a goal away from killing off this game and taking a place in the second round. Certainly the Slovaks have little reply to Robben with Radoslav Zabavník scything down the winger. Van Persie goes close with the free kick but Mucha saves once more.

The orange pressure is near relentless but breaks when Miroslav Stoch works a great chance on the left that Maarten Stekelenburg tips over the bar and – a minute later – Vittek is put in space in the middle and seems certain to score but has his shot pushed away by a great save by Stekelenburg. If those are the chances come and gone which Slovakia decide to preserve the one goal deficit for then the game looks beyond them unless they put more into their forward play.

Dirk Kuyt should do better from a Sneijder cross – he heads over – and Kamil Kopúnek comes on for Erik Jendrišek as the trailing team try to turn the game by getting more of the ball and better service to the front players. The ploy fails and Slovakia are left looking for a mistake, a free kick, a corner which could give them an equaliser. It is the football that ensures that you do not go home being lambasted for losing 4-1, but was always unlikely to win the game and as Kuyt beats Mucha to the ball and picks out Sneijder the Dutchman finishes and go through.

Slovakia lose the friends they had won in their enterprising win over Italy. When given the chance to fight for their place in the World Cup they opted to hope that Netherlands might be charitable. They go out meekly and without an end worthy of a song despite Vittek’s last minute penalty.

That is worth being angry about.


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