Sneijder: Pretty football won't guarantee our stay
HOLLAND v COSTA RICA
(Sunday, 4am, SingTel mio TV Ch 141 & StarHub TV Ch 223)
Holland midfielder Wesley Sneijder has told fastidious Dutch football connoisseurs to forget about the side playing pretty at the World Cup, because he does not want to go home just yet.
The continuing debate over the team abandoning their total football philosophy and employing an uglier pressing and counter-attacking style still has Dutch opinion divided - even after the team scored 12 goals in four wins in Brazil to book a quarter-final berth.
"Why must we go into overdrive just so that we are praised by the world for playing good football and trying so hard? Would you rather see us in the airplane going home? I prefer to go for the best option," he said, as the Dutch readied to depart their base for Salvador, where they meet Costa Rica in the last eight on Sunday morning (Singapore time).
Sneijder has proven a ready convert to coach Louis van Gaal's insistence the Dutch cause is best served playing with three centre backs, two wing backs, three midfielders and two attackers - keeping it tight in defence and waiting to catch the opponents with swift attacks.
It was the basis for their dynamic start in Brazil, where they thrashed defending champions Spain 5-1 in Salvador.
Van Gaal decided on this before the World Cup after injury ruled Kevin Strootman out of the tournament, leaving the coach feeling there would not be enough balance in midfield.
He received approval from the senior players in the squad, but raised the ire of many of the country's opinionated former stars.
"If we listen to all those who say we must be the team who have 70 per cent of the ball possession, then we might as well pack to go home," added Sneijder.
"We must be realistic. We don't have the midfield to hold onto that much possession.
"Four years ago, we just missed out on winning the World Cup and, honestly speaking, we didn't play very well there either," he said of their performance at the 2010 Finals in South Africa.
"If we become world champions, and we must believe we can, no one will say how ugly we played.
"At the Euro '08 tournament, we played super games against Italy and France, but we tried the same against Russia and ended up going home." - Reuters.
Costa Rica are a very good team. It’s going to be another very difficult game for us where we have to give everything to go through to the semi-finals.
— Dutch forward Arjen Robben, on their quarter-final opponents