One could argue that no top-tier team needed back-to-back victories to start off 2014 World Cup qualifying more than did the Netherlands this September. Two wins in two is exactly what Holland produced in the past week, and those results should help players and team forget what was largely a disastrous 2012. It is worth noting that Holland hardly played against the best of the best in their past two matches. Still, finding a return to winning ways during meaningful games was an absolute necessity for a squad that is simply too talented to lose four consecutive contests.
3 final thoughts on Holland's September World Cup qualifiers: RvP
Former Netherlands boss Bert van Marwijk just couldn't choose between Robin van Persie and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar during the summer, and thus neither player could get into any rhythm while with the national team, and Van Marwijk is now the former Netherlands boss. Van Persie was given the nod over Huntelaar for both qualifiers, and the in-form Manchester United star didn't fail to impress. He opened the scoring in Holland's 2-0 win over Turkey, and he was the team's best attacking option throughout the first half of that match. While he didn't find the back of the net during Holland's 4-1 victory at Hungary, he hassled defenders and also earned multiple free kicks during the first half of play. It's no longer a stretch to suggest that the starting gig is now RvP's to lose.
3 final thoughts on Holland's September World Cup qualifiers: A worry?
Inconsistent and even lazy defending haunted the Netherlands in matches that occurred before, during and after Euro 2012. Outside of two terrible turnovers while playing Turkey and one forgettable moment inside the Dutch penalty area during the Hungary match, the team's defending looked like a completely different unit in their two World Cup qualifiers (largely because it was different, but more on that later). One guy who still doesn't seem to be "getting it" at the international level, however, is youngster Jetro Willems. Willems was responsible for one of the previously mentioned turnovers that really should have led to Turkey scoring, and he found himself out of position multiple times in both qualifiers.
You can only get so upset about an 18-year old prodigy not playing perfect football while on international duty. These things take time, after all. Willems being a bit shaky while wearing Oranje in 2012 isn't a new occurrence, though, and he was called out by coach Louis van Gaal following the match against Turkey. Games against Andorra and Romania should, in theory, give Willems an opportunity to gain a bit of confidence and form while with the national team; at least one would hope.
3 final thoughts on Holland's September World Cup qualifiers: Did you miss them?
Van Gaal surprised some in the Dutch football community when he dropped national team mainstays Rafael van der Vaart, Nigel de Jong and Gregory van der Wiel for the likes of Bruno Martins Indi and Luciano Narsingh. While the Netherlands took care of business as they were supposed to do even without several veterans in the squad, I couldn't help but wonder if members of the old guard were missed. Then I realized something that gave me a bit of a chuckle.
I never once thought about those players during the actual games.
Something needed to change in the Dutch team after Euro 2012. That, above anything else, is why I had no problem with Van Gaal's squad selection in September. It also didn't hurt that Holland outscored opponents 6-1 in two matches. Such good feelings could quickly disappear, however, after a couple of poor results.