Netherlands vs Chile World Cup 2014: Dutch continue impressive march that does not look like stopping

Boast the outstanding player of the tournament so far in Arjen Robben

They may not have been playing at 100 per cent in their fixture against Chile, but the 2-0 win in Sao Paulo has left the Netherlands with a 100 per cent group record. That return may not exactly be a shock, but it is still the source of some surprise given the relative youth of Louis van Gaal’s side. Arjen Robben certainly thought so.

“If you told me this some time ago, nine points out of nine, I would have been very dubious,” the forward admitted after the game, which leaves the Dutch in a last-16 tie with Mexico. “I think we did a great job but this is not where we want to stop. In one respect we have to take some time to enjoy this. It’s a fantastic result, a fantastic performance, but it shouldn’t end here. So, we must immediately change our mindset, look ahead because we really want to move forward.”

The question now is how far they can really go? Can a young team suddenly and unexpectedly end what is otherwise a long wait for the World Cup? The Dutch, after all, are the side to have reached the final the most times without winning it.

If this squad still doesn’t seem to have the quality of 2010, there is an argument they have both the outstanding player and outstanding manager of this tournament.

Robben himself has been close to sensational, and probably the World Cup’s most consistent player so far. In a largely laboured team performance against Chile, he provided the only flashes of brilliance, as well as the exhilarating run to set up Memphis Depay and seal the game.

The 30-year-old has that rare thrill factor that can suddenly change a game, as both Spain and Australia found out.

His individual influence can significantly enhance the deeper effect of Louis van Gaal’s coaching. The new Manchester United manager has fashioned a proper collective out of a rather callow core in remarkably swift time. Similarly, he has shown a pragmatism many thought beyond him.

It was a question about his tactical approach that brought such a stern response in the post-game press conference. Van Gaal’s ultimate response was impressively stark.

“I’ll pick a system that helps me win.”

Whether it is enough to go and win the actual World Cup remains to be seen. The combination of tactical discipline and individual brilliance, however, can go an awful long way.

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