The Group B leader board of the 2014 FIFA World Cup faced off in a match between Chile and the Netherlands. Things were already in the Dutch’s favor in that the Oranje could have eked out on top with as little as a draw against Chile. The aim for both teams: avoid playing Brazil in the Round of 16.
The Netherlands’ coach, Louis van Gaal, changed things up a bit for his starting 5-3-2 lineup. Robin van Persie had to miss the match after getting booked for a second time in group stages, and as a result, there were three main changes to the starting formation. Daley Blind started at left back and Dirk Kuyt got to start at left midfield. Georginio Wijnaldum also started for the Oranje on the right side of the midfield. In the absence of van Persie, van Gaal started with Jeremain Lens up top.
The tactical importance of starting with a 5-3-2 was that it allowed for the Oranje to easily shift in offensive and defensive scenarios to give them four men up top and four men behind the ball on defense. This was in all likelihood done to combat the speed of Chile’s forwards, who are known to be some of the fastest in the 2014 World Cup.
Unfortunately for Chile, Arturo Vidal sat out the match despite having played the first to games with the Chilean national team. Vidal still has some recovery to do following a knee surgery that he underwent just prior to the World Cup in Brazil. It was a smart move to sit the player because, after all, second round play was guaranteed from the outset, and better to have Vidal at 100 percent against Brazil than risk injury by coming back too soon.
Chile’s lineup and formation allowed for a lot of maneuverability against the Oranje. As such, the game was quite the “slow burner” according to commentators. Ball possession went back and forth, with Chile unable to establish a rhythm in the first half. However, in the second half things began to turn around for the Chileans, but there were a few second half substitutions proved to be beneficial for the Netherlands.
In the 77th minute, midfielder Leroy Fer nabbed a goal after just two minutes on the pitch. Defender Daryl Janmaat sent the ball in the box and Fer was able to return with a fantastic header into the side netting of the goal. Fer’s goal was an assurance that the Oranje would avoid Brazil in the Round of 16. Two minutes into stoppage time, Arjen Robben sent in a cross from the left side allowing for Memphis Dupay to make an easy finish.
The game between the Netherlands and Chile was a fight to avoid Brazil. Though Mexico is no walk in the park, playing the host nation is not necessarily something to go begging for. It was an unfortunate outcome for the Chileans, who will now face the likes of Brazil on June 28 at the Estádio Mineirão in Belo Horizonte. As for the Oranje, they will battle with Mexico and the notorious, meme-worthy Guillermo Ochoa on June 29 at the Estádio Castelão in Fortaleza. Though the Dutch will avoid Brazil in the second round, Mexican goalkeeper Ochoa might prove to be a formidable foe for the Oranje guns up top, van Persie and Robben.
Commentary by Courtney Anderson
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer Covering World Cup Group B