The first game of a World Cup is such a difficult game to overcome. We have seen a rather sluggish start to many of the favourites World Cup campaigns. Argentina, England, Italy and France have all had rather poor games, considering their relative talent.
It seems that most teams are adopting a rather cautious approach to games. Desperately hoping that they don't concede possession, free kicks or even a goal. Its this cautious play which will give frustration to the most attack minded teams like Holland, Ivory Coast, Spain and the blessed Brazil.
Of course, this is nothing new. Italy have won four World Cups largely on great defences. Germany were also adept at it in the 80's. They adopt a siege mentality on their own goal, and then cut and thrust forward when the timing is right. The problem is with this, the conservative nature of playing football usually proves effective against the L'Enfant terrible of the attack at all cost brigade.
Holland are one of those trumpeting the gun-ho attitude to football, and I wouldn't swap it for the world. Monday against Denmark proved that the quality of the forward play was as good as ever and showed that the right amount of skill and effort can reap rewards.
This World Cup will prove several things. The conservative style of football is only as good as your centre backs. Italy may have had the sternest defence in the world at one point, but here, in South Africa, this defence is a pale of their former selves. Against the attack minded teams, they will prove to be lambs to the slaughter.
But you have to worry for Holland when it comes to this. One times in qualifying, the product of the midfield's ingenuity was lacking. Whilst Holland looked impressive against Denmark, it was an own goal and a late goal which brought victory. Against the better teams, can we expect the Oranje to be able to sustain that level of constant attack? And if they havn't got that level of sustainability, where exactly will that leave them?
At this going rate, with the poor level of adventure and creativity in games, Holland will have to be careful not to get sucked in and try and play them at their own game. Because with that, they will leave themselves dangerously out of their depth.
The beauty of the World Cup is that once perceived favourites can unravel right in front of your eyes. Holland have been guilty of that before. Whilst they looked impressive, the nagging doubt is that against those pessimistic defend at all cost teams, Holland will unravel again, right in front of our eyes.
Here's to hoping that this latest batch of supremely talented individuals can provide a welcome upset.
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