The Holland-Japan match probably was the most boring match until now, at this already highly disappointing World Cup. Holland's 1-0 win that made them the first country to qualify, emphasized the unexpected characteristics of this team: hard-working, controlling and highly efficient. If that sounds more like Germany than Holland, you might just be right. With Holland playing like Germany and Germany playing like Holland, the possibilities are seemingly endless.
Everyone hoping for a more spectacular style of play from the man in orange after their sober play versus Denmark, Holland-Japan was a major letdown. I was one of those people but I abandoned that hope after 10 minutes already, with Holland playing the 'let's see how long we can pass the ball to each other without progressing more than 15 meter up the pitch' game. The fact that the Japanese were more than happy to oblige, and didn't leave their own half for the better part of the entire match obviously didn't help.
It almost seemed as though Holland was slowly strangling the Japanese to footballing death, with their endless passing, positioning game and most importantly; infinite patience. Ball possession usually doesn't say anything about the score, but in this match it told the whole story. Holland had 73% after the first half and ended up with 64% overall, after the Japanese decided that it might be a good idea to actually try and create something seeing as they were 1-0 down. Thankfully, their negative style of play didn't give them anything, because Sneijder was able to whip one in just after half time.
Sneijder's goal was nice but a little lucky as well. It needed the help of the Japanese goalie and so the waiting is still on for the first amazing attack from the Dutch in this World Cup. An attack that will leave everyone speechless and swing worldwide public opinion back in Holland's favor. I am more than content with waiting for this attack to happen until, let's say, the 11th of July?
Because despite all the criticism concerning the Dutch style of play, you cannot blame them for winning and being the first country into the first round. Sure, Holland's group wasn't the most difficult but neither is England's. And the amazing Germans that blew away Australia subsequently lost to Serbia and suddenly find themselves in a real battle for qualification. Spain didn't have luck on its side against Switzerland, Italy was at times overplayed by Paraguay and Brazil seemed like a frozen samba against the sturdy North-Koreans. Oh and don't even get me started on the French, because frankly they are a disgrace for their country. The only team to actually live up to expectation is therefore probably Argentina.
So let's recap on Holland in the light of events during this World Cup. As mentioned, they are the first to qualify, they have 6 points, made 3 goals and conceded 0. They completely controlled both of their matches, looked really solid at the back and showed up at the right time in terms of bagging a goal. All this without Arjen 'the sensation to happen' Robben, an in-form striker (Van Persie has been playing terribly, but will be very decisive in the near future) and against two opponents that are defensive minded, sturdy and generally difficult to play. The second round, and hopefully beyond, will give the Dutch a perfect environment for their new style of play: difficult to beat, lucky, always scoring and with very smart and highly skilled players blending into a team performance. Come to think of it, we really do look like Germany.