After an excellent group stage that included kicking out the defending champions, the Netherlands are quietly getting closer to the last stages of the tournament. While they may not really show “jogo bonito” or amaze fans with consistent domination and smooth playing, they have surely become effective and it’s helping them get a chance to get past the three runner-up places they have accumulated throughout their history. For this round of 16 battle against Mexico, coach Louis van Gaal departed from the 5-3-2 formation and went for a 4-3-3. They had to suffer more than they would have wanted to, but in a dramatic finish, they reverted Gio’s goal and advanced to the quarter-finals. Let’s take a look at how each player performed:
GK, Jasper Cillesen: 7.5/10
Was insecure in a few plays, but did enough to keep Mexico from sealing a win in the 1st half. As El Tri deflated, he had a lot less work.
DEF, Paul Verhaegh: 5/10
He started in lieu of Janmaat and did the best he could, which wasn’t much. This cost him a substitution before the hour, shortly after Mexico scored.
DEF, Ron Vlaar: 6.5/10
Did what he had to do when in trouble. No more and no less.
DEF, Stefan de Vrij: 6.5/10
Same as his partner. Ten clearances from the entire team in the full match shows that defenders didn’t play as key of a role.
DEF, Daley Blind: 6.5/10
Had to move to the central midfielder position after de Jong left. He’s used to this placement in Ajax and was correct in attack and defense.
MID, Georginio Wijnaldum: 6/10
Decent enough game, creative when he had the chance and pushed the Dutch towards Ochoa’s side.
MID, Nigel de Jong: N/A
Had to leave before the game even hit 10 mins. Let’s hope it’s nothing serious, he has been key in the midfield so far.
MID, Dirk Kuyt: 6/10
He was persistent, but failed to be as influential as he once was. He’s a player past his prime, but can contribute his grain of salt.
MID, Wesley Sneijder: 7/10
It hasn’t been his best World Cup if you compare it to 2010 and the Euro 2008, but the great ones always return. Had he not found that ball outside the box, we would be talking about something completely different here. Right place, right time and it was worth gold.
ATT, Arjen Robben: 8/10
Again, the best on the team, he’s fast, persistent and a nightmare to any back line. While he didn’t grace us with a goal, he was the man that caused the penalty in stoppage time.
ATT, Robin van Persie: 6/10
The suspension against Chile didn’t do well to him. He wasn’t as menacing and van Gaal decided to give Huntelaar a chance.
DEF, Bruno Martins Indi: 6.5/10
Came in very early for de Jong and pushed Blind to the midfield. He was correct in defense as he has been for the entire tournament. With a little more work, the Oranje’s back line can trust the youngsters to bring security for years to come.
ATT, Memphis Depay: 6/10
One of the star subs of the tournament. He failed to score, but helped the team pressure Ochoa and inevitably force the equalizer.
ATT, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar: 7.5/10
Played his first set of minutes this tournament and had the chance to score the winning goal through a penalty. Much like Sneijder, right place, right time and worth gold.