Football Federation Australia technical director Han Berger believes The Netherlands won’t be underestimating the Socceroos when the two sides meet in Porto Alegre.
Australia has enjoyed a good record against the Oranje in recent years, recording a draw in a friendly in 2009, a win in 2008 and a score draw in a World Cup warm-up match in 2006.
Berger, who has managed several clubs in the Eredivisie and previously served as head coach of the country’s Under-21 and Under-23s, said he couldn’t give a reason for the Socceroos’ positive history with the Oranje.
“I don’t really know what the reason for it is but it’s a good tradition and best if we keep that tradition for the next two weeks or so,” he said.
“Actually the interesting thing is that they are talking about it in Holland as well, van Gaal brought it up himself. A journalist asked him ‘well, OK, Australia that’s like a certain three points’.
“And then he himself said ‘Oh, well, you better look at the history of our results against Australia, we actually never beat them’. So they know it.”
Berger says the Socceroos must be on guard when they take on Holland’s attacking trio of van Persie, Robben and Schneider in Porto Alegre.
The Dutchman has recently been in Holland watching their two friendlies where they beat Ghana 1-0 and Wales 2-0.
“They hardly gave away any opportunities and it was decent but not spectacular,” he said.
“The three up front - Sneijder, Robben, Van Persie - are world class and can create something out of nothing.”
There is currently a debate on in Holland over head coach Louis van Gaal’s tweaking of the country’s famous 4-3-3 formation and philosophy.
“It’s a huge public discussion because Van Gaal has changed the traditional Dutch playing style - attacking; high press; quality positioning play and wingers,” Berger said.
“A lot of people are of the opinion that that made Holland a power in world football, it’s our football DNA and we shouldn’t change that. Now we started copying what others do and the majority of the Dutch don’t like that.
“Time will tell if Van Gaal is right.”
Berger said the strength of Holland, which has faced internal squabbles in past World Cups, is that attacking troika which can “decide any game on any given day”.
“And the rest of the team, well it’s decent, but not spectacular,” he said.
“So there are a lot of question marks round the real strength of Holland. But they start against Spain and that game will tell a lot.
“The Dutch team is also going through a rejuvenation process so apart from Robben, van Persie, Schneider and Nigel de Jong, the rest is quite a young team. So in general the young players don’t have those big egos yet.
“But as you know, somewhere along the way something always happens to the Dutch team, it wouldn’t surprise me (if they do combust).”
Berger, who has been Australia’s technical director since 2009, arrived in Brazil on Friday to see the Socceroos play Croatia. The 63-year old was encouraged by the performance despite the 1-0 defeat.
“I think we played a decent game against a strong opponent,” Berger said.
“The defensive organisation overall was good with the exception of the goal we conceded. We still need to improve our game in the final third. We created a number of potentially successful situations but the last pass wasn’t good.”1 comment