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article imageHolland makes most of space following Chile's system alterations

By Tyrrell Meertins     Jun 23, 2014 in Sports
Chile’s main objective heading into the World Cup was to win Group B, and avoid a possible showdown with Brazil in the round of 16.
Despite winning their opening two games, Jorge Sampaoli’s side’s inferior goal differential left Chile needing a win against Holland to achieve their goal.
Sampaoli decided to rest Arturo Vidal –– who was also a booking away from a suspension –– and opted to stray away from Jorge Valdivia’s creativity by introducing Felipe Gutierrez in midfield. Likewise, Jeremain Lens joined Arjen Robben upfront for the suspended Robin van Persie, while Georginio Wijnaldum and Dirk Kuyt joined the midfield. Stylistically, both sides adopt similar approaches, which explains why minimal chances were created from open play.
A 3v3 battle commenced in a congested midfield, which saw both sides negating the opposition’s strengths. Holland dropped off and allowed Chile to dominate possession but with the midfield contained, Alexis Sanchez was forced to dropped deeper to receive the ball. Stefan de Vrij and Daley Blind, however, tracked Sanchez, all over the pitch, negating the Chilean attacker’s impact on the match.
Chile’s main outlet was left wingback Eugenio Mena, who surged into advanced areas down the left, but his crosses towards the near post were poor. Gutierrez also received two opportunities from set-pieces but he guided both efforts wide of the net.
Similar to Holland’s previous match against Australia, Louis van Gaal’s men allowed the opposition to sustain possession. Holland created their best chances in transition, with Robben leading the break on goal. Robben was the most proactive player on the pitch and he was involved in Holland’s best chances in the first half.
Robben ignited a 3v2 counter following de Jong dispossessing Mena, but the Dutch attacker’s poor final ball halted the play. Afterwards, it was Wesley Sneijder’s tackle on Marcelo Diaz that saw Robben shrug off Gonzalo Jara at the halfway line, thus leading to a 2v2 break that saw the 30-year-old evaded a challenge from Gary Medel before guiding his shot inches wide of the net.
Sanchez and Robben completed the most take-ons and equally suffered the most tackles throughout the match. The two attackers were the most influential players on the field, but in the second half the former grew in frustration, whereas the latter continued to push towards goal.
Sampaoli’s decision to introduce Jean Beausejour for Gutierrez saw Chile transition into a 3-4-3 with the former playing as the left winger, while Sanchez drifted to the right. Sanchez remained the liveliest Chilean player in the second half, but his final ball was also woeful. The change also benefited Holland as they held a numerical advantage in midfield, and although Sneijder didn’t generally impact the match, his influence increased.
Both managers turned to their bench with van Gaal calling upon Memphis Depay and Leroy Fer, while Sampaoli moved to a 4-3-3 with the introduction of Valdivia for Silva. Unlike Sneijder, Depay instantly took advantage of the freedom in midfield when he received a pass in a pocket of space before evading two challenges and forcing Claudio Bravo to push the ball over the net. Subsequently, Robben played a short corner to Daryl Janmaat, and an unmarked Fer nodded the Dutch wingback’s corner into the net.
"I think that this was a match that we expected, with the Netherlands trying to use lots of people on the counter attack,” Sampaoli said.
"We looked for victory, we wanted to win and we couldn't find a solution to a team that only defended and only aspired to long-range shots, not even counterattacks.”
Valdivia occasionally drifted into pockets of space in midfield, but he didn’t inject the creativity that Chile required, and their attack was laboured in the final 10 minutes of the match. In stoppage time, Robben’s pace on the break saw the attacker carry the ball to the byline before feeding Depay to double Holland’s lead to win the group.
"You just have to play according to your strengths, it's all about winning. I'll pick a system that helps me win,” van Gaal said.
"This is proof of the pudding. We're not giving away very much, but we're creating a lot.”
Holland negated Chile’s front six, and Fer’s game-winning goal exploited Chile’s weakness defending set-pieces. Chile pushed to win the game, but Sampaoli’s constant changes disrupted their balance, and provided van Gaal’s men with additional space to penetrate.
More about Chile, Holland, Robben, Arjen robben, Memphis Depay
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