Ruud Doevendans has been an official columnist for a Dutch club and owns one of the largest
collections of soccer videos containing hundreds of World Cup matches. We at PWC are proud to have him as
a columnist. He will share his views about the past, present and future of
the World Cup.
Read earlier columns
Tomorrow, saturday september 1st, will be a very important, if not decisive
day in European football, as far as the qualifications for the World Cup
2002 are concerned. In group 1 for instance, Switzerland and Yugoslavia play
each other, both to secure their last chance to challenge Slovenia for
second place behind Russia. Poland and Italy can both qualify, and in group
8 Scotland meets Croatia in a very tight group that also holds Belgium. But
for me, the focus will be on two games, first Holland visiting the Republic
of Ireland, and later in the evening Germany who take on England in Munich.
In Holland everyone is convinced. Holland will beat Ireland, and many think
they will do so quite easily. I am not one of them. Holland may have played
a decent first half against England a couple of weeks ago, a competitive
match in Ireland is a horse of another colour. Holland had some outstanding
moments in that match at White Hart Lane, Mark van Bommel scoring a smashing
goal and Ruud van Nistelrooij outplaying his opponents with Patrick Kluivert
also doing well. They could have scored more, but to be honest: England had
some fine shots on goal too, and it seemed to me they never gave more than
75%. Holland looked the better team, technically for sure and also for their
positional play, but the score could have gone either way. Ireland will be
no push-overs. They have a good, spirited team.
When Holland can not completely reach their full potential, they may not be able to control the
pace of the game. And when Ireland can determine the velocity of play, they
are a very dangerous side. And there is more. Holland has it's problems in
defence. Established right-back Michael Reiziger is out injured, and one can
only hope for Holland that Louis van Gaal will not risk unstable Mario
Melchiot in this crucial game. On the left flank there is no problem, Arthur
Numan and Giovanni van Bronckhorst both capable of doing the job. But then
look at the centre, where Jaap Stam had a frightning week being thrown out
of Manchester United, and young and promising Kevin Hofland has had an
indifferent start of the season. No certainties, and behind this back four
is Edwin van der Sar, still the best Holland has but who has hardly ever won
the points for the Dutch. I think Ireland-Holland will be a very close
encounter, these games often end in a draw which would mean that Holland are
out of the competition!
Later that evening the biggest cracker of the day, Germany receiving
Sven-Göran Eriksson's England team. And England still has the chance of
going through to the finals as the number one in the group, but they will
have to beat their eternal rivals. If they don't, Germany will qualify. It
will not be easy for England, although they tore Germany down during Euro
2000. And why not this time? England may have their two best defenders back,
Rio Ferdinand and Sol Campbell, and I can see them dealing well with the
German strikers, whether it's Carsten Jancker or Oliver Bierhoff. And the
real strength of England is in midfield, where they can field two world
class players in David Beckham (assumed that he's fit to play) and Paul
Scholes. Germany has good midfielders too, but no Beckham and no Scholes!
These guys can make the difference.
Let's not forget that Germany has one big advantage over England, and that
is between the posts. Oliver Kahn is widely recognized as one of the best
shotstoppers in the game. For me though, England's David Seaman has become
too slow to play a good role at the highest level. It's logical that it
would be a very harsh decision to make for either Wenger or Eriksson, but my
vote would go to Richard Wright, for the number 1 jersey at Arsenal as well
as the national team. He is a talented goalkeeper who has proven himself in
the difficult Premiership. He is a better option than relying on a nearly 38
year old, who has his best days way behind him. Kahn is a strong factor for
Germany, but I like the rest of the England team better than the Germans.
And they may not have enjoyed too much success recently against The
Mannschaft, the game in Munich is a new one, the score when the whistle goes
as always is 0-0, and it's only 90 minutes. One big moment from a big player
can be enough to put this group upside-down. A curling free-kick from
Beckham, or a typical Scholes hammer can bring England a big win. And I
think Owen should be able to escape from his marker a couple of times. The
first ten minutes will be important, since Germany has a history of scoring
decisive goals in the beginning of a game. They don't need a long
warming-up, they are awake from the first minute on. But if England can
survive this period, I can see them winning the game. But like
Ireland-Holland, it will be close.
That is what's so great about tomorrow. I will be sitting at the screen for
both games. With everything to play for,
there is nothing better than that!
Info on how
the World Cup was founded and about the trophy as well.
on every match in every tournament.
Interesting columns about the past, present and future of the World Cup.
with appearances in the World Cup. Detailed info on every country.
of many of the most influential players in history.
An A-Z collection
of strange and different stories in World Cup history.
A big collection
of various statistics and records.
since it was introduced in 1966.
knowledge about the WC. Three different levels. No prizes, just for fun.
lots of stuff. For instance Best Goals, Best Players and Best Matches.
of links to other soccer sites with World Cup connection.
and buttons for you to link to us if you want.
A little information
on who keeps this site available.