Holland Tried

As always, Zonal Marking explains a soccer game (Portugal’s victory over Holland) and a larger theme (Holland’s disappointing performance in the tournament) better than anything on TV or newspapers.

What bothered me about the commentary from ESPN’s Steve McManaman during the game was that when Holland appeared disjointed and not playing, the former Liverpool and Real Madrid attributed it to a lack of effort.  Unless he is going to name names and point out specific lapses from players, I think this is careless analysis.

From the beginning of this tournament, it was clear Holland had some trouble fitting their talented players into a cohesive team.  The players didn’t seem to fit into natural roles as a part of a larger whole, and with the forwards missing a few chances they should have converted and the defense making some key mistakes, they did poorly.  But I don’t see it as a lack of effort.  As ZM explains:

Third favourites for the tournament, yet going home with zero points. That is actually a harsh reflection of Holland’s tournament – no, they weren’t very good, and yes, van Marwijk made mistakes. But Holland were extremely unlucky to lose against Denmark, with van Persie’s surprising lack of composure in the penalty area a major reason for the failings, rather than poor tactics from van Marwijk.

Holland outplayed Denmark and were unlucky to lose, and then lost to Germany.  That left them with 0 points, and meant they had to beat Portugal by two goals to have any chance of moving on.  This forced Holland to play an very attacking lineup that left them open to getting beaten at the back by Ronaldo and Nani, two of the best wingers in the world.  Take a disjointed team and force them to play in an even more unbalanced manner against a good team, and it was no surprise that the players struggled at various points in the game.  That is not the same thing as lack of effort, and its just sloppy analysis from a former player.

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