Dutch aren’t for real, but they’re entertaining

After scoring 10 goals in three games, the Dutch are proving to be a force in the World Cup, but they still have some issues and haven't quite convinced James Sharman that they're for real-yet.

Groups A and B are history at Brazil 2014, and in what I imagine will be a common feeling, I am mired in self-doubt having seen my predictions trounced on.

Group A saw Mexico extend its middle finger at and all of us who doubted them; for crying out loud they are coached by a louse!

And Group B? A graveyard with Spain out. With Chile and the Netherlands marching on, at least the excitement level is about to be cranked up a notch

Some thoughts on Day 12:

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• It was throwback for Spain: David Villa and Fernando Torres attacking, Xabi Alonso sitting deep… probably for the last time together. Sad as it is watching fading stars, witnessing Torres and Villa clunking around the field was a stark reminder of how elegant and smooth they used to be. Hardly old men, both have just been crushed by injuries, stripping them of their world-class talents. Both men some years left, both will score again, but never as they used to. It still grinds me that Villa’s career has never been the same since that broken leg suffered at the Club World Cup. The Club frigging World Cup!

• As we covered the Spain-Australia match live on Sportsnet, I was unable to watch Netherlands/Chile closely. However, here’s the Dutch facts: Three matches, three wins, and ten goals! Yet… yet, I still don’t buy it. I hope I still don’t buy it right through the final as no team is more entertaining than the Dutch, and no team has a manager with quite the draw of Louis van Gaal. Is it the strength of coaching or just the ability of certain players to rise to the occasion? How to explain Norwich City players scoring at World Cups, or Cardiff and Nottingham Forest players dominating in three man defences?

• Three at the back! It should be mentioned that three teams that frequently use three man defences have all qualified for the knock-out phase!

• Back to great coaching, Twenty of the over 100 goals at this World Cup have been scored by subs. It’s all about timing!

• Sad to see Croatia bow out in the group phase. Nico Kovac’s side were very good in their opening two games, a closely fought opening day loss to the hosts, and a destruction of Cameroon. Against Mexico they ran out of ideas when trying to break down this overly impressive Mexican defence, and then when forced to push in the second half they were cut apart by the counter.

• I am genuinely worried for the well being of Mexican manager Miguel “The Louse” Herrerra. He is becoming my favourite character at this World Cup, but there is a very good chance he will not finish this tournament.

Group C and D tomorrow! Can’t wait to break down Roy Hodgson’s starting XI!

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