Netherlands vs. Chile: 6 Things We Learned
On Monday, the Netherlands faced Chile in a match that would decide who would finish on top in Group B.
The match was important for both sides, because the team that finishes first will probably avoid host nation Brazil in the round of 16.
It was a close match, but thanks to a late header by Norwich's Leroy Fer and a last-minute tap in from Memphis Depay, the Oranje managed to win the match 2-0.
Once again, the Dutch lined up in a 5-3-2 formation, and once again they got the better of their opponent.
Here, we take a look at the six most important things the Netherlands' manager Louis van Gaal can take away from this match.
Kuyt Makes Himself Useful
First-choice centre-back Bruno Martins Indi had to miss the match against Chile after suffering an injury against Australia. Consequently, manager Louis van Gaal had to reshuffle his back line.
Instead of simply replacing Martins Indi for a player like Joel Veltman or Terence Kongolo, the boss decided to move Daley Blind from left-back to the heart of the defence.
This meant the Oranje needed a new left wing-back. In a surprise move, Van Gaal chose former Liverpool player Dirk Kuyt for this position.
Originally a striker, Kuyt has often played as a left-winger, though never as a defender. But as things turned out, Kuyt did an excellent job in his new role, putting his high work rate on display and shielding the Dutch defence from Chile's fast runner Mauricio Isla.
It might not have been very glamorous, but it was definitely effective.
Daley Blind Is a Versatile Player
In the Netherlands' first two matches, against Spain and Australia, Daley Blind played as a left wing-back. Against Chile, he played as a centre-back.
However, this did not mean Blind played in a static role; often, he could still be found on the left, or in the zone usually occupied by a defensive midfielder—where Blind usually plays for his club Ajax.
Blind is a versatile and intelligent player. Depending on the movements of his team mates, he'll position himself where he's needed.
For the Netherlands, Blind has now played as a left wing-back, as a centre-back and as a defensive midfielder.
Wijnaldum Can Play Instead of De Guzman
Whether it's 5-3-2 or 4-3-3, Louis van Gaal usually plays a tough tackler and a running man in the heart of the midfield.
In the matches against Spain and Australia, the manager partnered first-choice strongman Nigel de Jong with Swansea's Jonathan de Guzman. Against Chile, however, Van Gaal went for Georginio Wijnaldum.
For his club PSV, Wijnaldum usually plays as one of the two central midfielders in a 4-3-3 formation. He can also play as a traditional No. 10.
At first glance, he's too much of an attacking midfielder to play behind Wesley Sneijder. But nonetheless, it seemed to work. Simply put: the mobile Wijnaldum is better than De Guzman at making intelligent runs and catching his opponent on the counter.
In a 5-3-2 formation, with three centre-backs and De Jong as the anchor, Wijnaldum is a fantastic addition to the Netherlands' midfield.
There's No Place for Huntelaar
With Van Persie suspended, the time seemed ripe for Klaas-Jan Huntelaar to make his first World Cup 2014 appearance for the Netherlands.
But surprisingly, Van Gaal initially went for Dynamo Kyiv's Jeremain Lens. In the second half, Lens was taken off for PSV youngster Memphis Depay.
If "The Hunter" can't even get playing time as a substitute's substitute, it must mean he's Van Gaal's fourth choice striker, and thus, it's not likely he'll be wearing an orange shirt again any time soon.
Arjen Robben One of the Best
Ahead of the World Cup, a lot was expected of world-class players like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. But so far, one of the best players has been Arjen Robben.
Of course, Robben hasn't been the only player to put in some amazing performances, but together with Robin van Persie, who was suspended against Chile, he has been on superb and decisive form for the Netherlands.
As the tournament progresses to the knockout stage and we get nearer to the final, we'll have to see whether Robben can continue his impressive run—but so far, it seems like the winger could be one of the best players of the World Cup.
Bright Future for Depay
Memphis Depay is yet to start a match for the Netherlands during this World Cup, but regardless, he has scored two decisive goals.
The youngster, who broke through this year after storming through PSV's youth academy, came in as a substitute against Australia, providing an assist and scoring the winning goal.
Apparently ahead of Huntelaar in the Netherlands' hierarchy, Depay was once again brought on during the match against Chile. Once again, Depay scored.
A strong and technical player, capable of playing as a winger in a 4-3-3 formation or as a striker in a 5-3-2, Depay surely has a bright future ahead of hem.
With the whole world watching the Netherlands playing well in Brazil, he might even attract interest from some of Europe's top sides this summer.