Friday, January 13, 2006

Soccer is War by Other Means

If you think I'm not going to be the only Jew at Brewhouse Cafe this summer cheering on the Oranje with one of these bad boys, you're sadly mistaken. (HT: Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer.)


LD said...

Will you be yelling "I want my bicycle back!" as well?

Tough break on their draw (mostly because I think Cote d'Ivoire and Serbia are both possible surprise teams).

Michael said...

If I'm insulting the Germans, I'd probably start with some derivation of "Latvia 0 Germany 0." Too bad I don't root for the English; "Two World Wars and One World Cup, doo dah, doo dah" has such a nice ring to it.

The Dutch draw is tough, but they ought to outclass Cote d'Ivoire and Serbia probably overperformed in qualifiers. I might be putting too much stock in Holland 5 Serbia 1 from 2000.

LD said...

Yeah, in fact, I could see Argentina getting surprised more than the Dutch (South American teams don't play well in Europe). I just see both the smaller teams taking a game from someone they shouldn't. Cote d'Ivoire (I think) is the most dangerous African team, and Serbia is a different team from 2000 - but also you don't know what you're getting. In 1998 the Yugoslavian team was made up of mostly older players - guys who weren't caught up in the wars. From then until about now, they really haven't had much in the way of younger talent, because of a generation pretty much lost to war. They're just now starting to get younger players again, kids who were 8 years old during the war. They're a team I'm not sure we can really understand until the tournament. But it is a footballing nation, and I'd fear them moreso than most 4th slot teams.

peacedog said...

The Dutch draw is immaterial IMO. They're real problems usually set in once you move into the second round and beyond. Tough draws (Argentina in 98, Brazil in 94), tough breaks - I still contend that a combination of De Goey's(sp?) goal keeping and weird things like the neat-post defender totally failing to do his job cost them in the 94 game - and the fact that they're the Dutch. They're like the hottest chick we knew in highschool. From afar, it's an a+ and it's all sexy. Somehow, some way, you land them in a relationship. And up close, the problems begin to mount (don't play enough D, don't get big goalkeeping when they *absolutely* have to have it, can wilt). And suddenly, you're saddled with a train wreck (who probably did most of the football team anyway), and dissappointment.

Michael said...

The Dutch have had all sorts of blow-ups deny them chances to win the World Cup, from having to play the host in the Final ('74 and '78) to de Goey's blunder against Brazil ('94) to Kluivert's wretched finishing (I can't believe it's taken me this long to rip on him,) with assorted infighting along the way. My hope for the team this year is that Van Basten has refused to play an all-star team and has instead mixed and matched a few stars (RVN and Robben are his indispensible players; so much depends on Robben's form and health) with utility players who mesh with the stars. They play as a team, which makes them better than the sum of their parts, the exact opposite of traditional Dutch sides. The result was an unbeaten run in the qualifiers, including a pair of 2-0 wins over the Czechs. Serbia can't be much better than Romania, whom the Dutch handled efficiently in the qualifiers. Plus, Holland will have the best homefield advantage behind the Germans and possibly the English.

On the other hand, if you buy the whole notion that these games are reflections of national character, then the Dutch will come close and lose to a bigger country like they always do.

peacedog said...

Hey, I mentioned de Goey!

Is Vandersaar overrated? And didn't Man U have him at one point but cast him off when they were dissappointed? Vandersaar never seems to have really big games when they need it. That's partly not his fault. I mean, some of the goals the Czech's scored in the Euro semi were just brillaint. I can still see Swayze's howitzer crystal clear in mind mind. An amazinf shot. One that, if a keeper is very good and is *really* guarding against it, probably doesn't score. But nobody is really ready for that kind of shot from a mile out IMO.

Kluivert's (non) finishing helped poor Bergkamp & co come up short last time out, correct (or am I getting confused now? It had to be 2002 though).

Did Davids retire from national play? I will say I interested to see the Czech results (who otherwise appeared to dominate in qualifying). That may be one of the most telling signs.

Dutch Forwards in recent memory not named Bergkamp seem to have had a habit of not playing well in the big games (Van Basten dazzled against the Russians in the Euro Cup, but I didn't recall his doing much in the World Cup). That's kind of a killer. Maybe RVN will help change that.

I miss Frank Rijkard.

Michael said...

I should have credited you for mentioning de Goey.

I'm a big fan of van der Sar. He made some incredible saves in the Euro '04 game against the Czechs, including a reaction save at point blank range to keep the game at 2-2. He's also the first Dutch goalie ever to win a penalty shootout for the national team. Finally, I'm eternally grateful for him baiting Ariel Ortega into head-butting him, thus setting the stage for Bergkamp's moment of genius in the quarters against Argentina in '98. (Dan was so enraged after that goal that he attempted to shred my beloved "Hup Holland" flag that I bought in Orlando in '94, but the flag would not be consumed and lived to fight another day.) That was my second favorite Dutch game of all-time with the first being the '88 win over the Germans in Munich in the semis of Euro '88. Van der Sar was on a Champions League winner for Ajax, he was a starter for several years for Juve (a club that knows good goalkeeping) and he's currently getting good reviews for Manchester United. He is far from my Dutch shitlist.

I'm not sure if Davids retired or was put out to pasture by Van Basten, but he didn't play in the qualifiers. He's played well for Tottenham, but has a bit of an attitude and I doubt that he'll figure in the Dutch midfield this summer. I do like Edgar and he played an important, although brief role in Barcelona's resurgence.

RVN hasn't always been the best for the national team, although his goal against Germany in '04 saved the Dutch. Unfortunately, he can't play with Makaay, who knows a thing or two about scoring in Germany. More than other strikers, he depends on good service, which is why Robben and whomever the Dutch play on the right wing (Dirk Kuyt?) will be critical. Ruud has scored dozens of goals for Manchester over the past several years, but scored his forst outside the box in recent weeks.