Going into this match my pre match prediction was Holland to win , not comfortably , but just nick it. But looking at the dutch team : no Robben , no Huntelaar , no Heitinga and Engelaar , De Jong and Kuyt in the starting lineup , i changed that to ‘could go either way , extra time for sure’
As I have stated before , I like Hiddink sides. They dominated right from the beginning. They played brilliant football. It was a treat to watch . The quick passing , the pace of attack , the long range shots , the number of players going forward was right out of a textbook of good football. The dutch totally lacked creativity in midfield. Engelaar and De Jong did absolutely nothing. Kuyt had no idea what position he was playing at. Sneijder was practically invisible. The dutch had trouble just keeping the ball , let alone moving it forward.
The only time the dutch threatened was on the set pieces for this was the only time the Russians let down their guard. While Hiddink made judicious use of his substitutions , van Basten rushed into them. Van Persie for Kuyt was a good move as was the removal of Engelaar but not using a player of the talent of Arjen Robben was alost a crime. Also Mathisen should not have even started. Boulharouz was playing well in the right back position. He should have started with Heitinga. When you are being totally outplayed is not the time to bring on a defender. The fact is van Basten made no use of his enviable bench of Robben , Huntelaar and Venegoor and lost a tactical battle in addition to that. The dutch people know exactly who to blame for this defeat.
The entire Russian team played well. Pavlyuchenko and Arshavin especially made their mark. I hope some big club signs them. This is a team with real talent . Maybe I’m going overboard. The actual credit should go to Guss Hiddink , whose legend grows with every tournament. His ability to bring the best out of his players is unbelievable . With every tournament he shows that teams win games , not stars.