Pace and patience outstrip possession: how Stats Zone saw Netherlands 2-0 Chile
This game between two sides already through to the second round was a fascinating tactical battle. Chile had the better of the first half but Netherlands were happy to rely on the searing pace of Arjen Robben to threaten on the break, while two goals from second-half substitutes won the game and demonstrated the Dutch aren't just a couple of big names - or indeed a fearsome first XI.
The pattern was set from the off. In the first quarter-hour, Chile held 79.2% possession, totting up 124 passes and completing 109 (88%) compared to the Netherlands' 21 of 35 (60%).
By the first half's midpoint the Dutch had only completed 1 pass in the final third, compared to Chile's 17.
Just after the half-hour, Stefan de Vrij noded wide a Robben free-kick - easily the best Dutch chance thus far.
By half-time Chile were still dominating possession (74%) and passes (85% completion compared to the Dutch figure of 63%).
In fact, in the first half Gary Medel outpassed the entire Dutch team.
Netherlands were certainly snapping into tackles, especially on Chile's midfield five, attempting 20 during the half.
Howerver, neither goalkeeper had had a save to make.
Holland's half was somewhat summed up by forward Jeremain Lens, who had 2 inaccurate shots and just 1 pass.
Louis van Gaal obviously had a word, and the Dutch put their foot on the ball a lot more in the second half; within 20 minutes they had matched their first-half pass total, and were only a fraction behind Chile.
Chile had brought on Jean Beausejour at half-time for Felipe Guttierez. As the player influence shows, Beausejour quickly adopted his usual left wing-back beat, which left Chile a little short of presence in central areas.
Midway through the second half came a flurry of substitutions, with Lens replaced by Memphis Depay, who almost immediately produced the first Dutch effort on target. Then, Leroy Fer replaced Wesley Sneijder, and within 90 seconds of arriving the Norwich man nodded home from a set-piece routine with only his second touch.
In injury time, the Netherlands double the damage with a rapid counter-attack originating at a Chile set-piece. Robben was sent scampering away, and sub Depay bust a gut to stay with him, arriving on the six-yard line just in time to sweep home the clincher.
The full-time stats show that although Netherlands came into game in the second half, Chile still had 68.6% possession over the piece and completed north of 400 passes to Holland's 149.
They may have had less ball, but the Dutch had more shots and more on target. And more goals.
The Dutch were very busy in the tackle as well as lethal on the break, but what impressed most about their performance was the calm tactical way they went about facing Chile. They will probably have to play better if they are to progress deep into the tournament but the Group B winners have now demolished Spain, come from behind against Australia and triumphed despite minority possession against fancied South Americans. They have the skillset to go far.
Facts and figures
- Fer scored 90 seconds after coming off the bench - the fastest goal by a sub at this World Cup.
- Netherlands claimed their first clean sheet in 8 World Cup matches.
- The Dutch have now scored in 9 of their last 10 World Cup games.
- Memphis Depay has scored in successive appearances for the Netherlands.
- Gary Medel attempted 103 passes against the Netherlands; the most ever recorded by a Chile player in a World Cup (since 1966).
- Chile have won only 2 of their last 12 World Cup clashes with European opposition.
- Netherlands have taken 9 points from the group stage for the second World Cup in a row; they haven’t lost a World Cup group game since 1994.
- Chile only managed 1 shot on target against the Netherlands.
- 8 of the Netherland’s last 9 World Cup goals have come in the second half.
- This was only the second time in their last 13 World Cup matches Chile had failed to score.