3 Things the Netherlands Must Change Following Win vs. Australia
Following their 5-1 victory over Spain last week, the Netherlands managed to avoid a near upset by narrowly defeating Australia 3-2 on Wednesday.
Seeing as the Netherlands only managed to come back from behind after a tactical switch executed by manager Louis van Gaal, it must have been an educative match for the Dutch.
Here, we take a look at the three things the Netherlands must consider in order to avoid some of the difficulties they encountered against Australia.
Revert to 4-3-3 Against Some Opponents
During the Netherlands' qualifying campaign, the Dutch played in Van Gaal's favoured 4-3-3 formation. However, when key man Kevin Strootman was ruled out of the World Cup after suffering a serious injury, the manager changed his formation to 5-3-2.
The new tactics worked like a charm against Spain. Against Australia, however, it didn't seem to work out as well. As a result, after the first half, Van Gaal reverted back to 4-3-3 by bringing on Memphis Depay for Bruno Martins Indi.
Things got off to a slow start when the Duch conceded a penalty, but after that, they managed to score twice and tip the match in their favour.
Apparently, Van Gaal's newfound 5-3-2 formation works better against some teams than it does against others.
Against Spain, forwards Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie faced a high defensive line. There was a lot of space to run into and exploit.
Against Australia, the defence sat deeper, and it was more important to put pressure on the ball with more than two players. Counter-attacking clearly didn't work here.
What formation must be employed in the match against the Netherlands' next opponents, Chile?
Allow Sneijder to Drop Deeper
Another advantage of the switch to 4-3-3 was that it allowed Wesley Sneijder to play in a deeper role than usual.
When the Netherlands employed a 5-3-2 formation against Spain, Sneijder looked almost like an extra striker at times, and not like an attacking midfielder.
In the second half against Australia, when the Dutch employed a 4-3-3 formation, Sneijder was forced to drop much deeper.
This put Sneijder in a much better position to make optimal use of his passing skills. What's more, with Depay now on the pitch, there were more attackers to pass to.
Whether it's 5-3-2 or 4-3-3, it seems wiser to allow Sneijder to drop to a deeper position in midfield. From there, he'll be able to initiate attacks, rather than just stand at the tail end of them.
The Defence Needs to Sharpen Up
Yes, Tim Cahill's goal was superb. Yes, Australia's second goal came from an unlucky penalty.
Nonetheless, the match against Australia made it clear that the Dutch defenders need to improve.
Despite a solid all-round performance, the same could have been said after the match against Spain. Stefan de Vrij, for example, should not have launched the tackle that led to Spain's penalty.
You simply can't allow the likes of Diego Costa and Tim Cahill space in the box. The Dutch defence needs to sharpen up.