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"The intellectualisation
of football has
always foundered
on a simple problem-
-the players. Doing
all your most
rewarding thinking
with your feet seems
to dull the philo-
sophical impulse.
Unless, of course,
you are Dutch.
According to legend,
Europeans played
a moronic, muscular
version of the world's
game, until Holland
proclaimed its vision
of total football in the
1974 World Cup,
and enlightenment
dawned."

From:
Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Football
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2010 FIFA World Cup - Final - Netherlands-Spain 0-1
New trauma for the Dutch

Sunday, 11 July 2010

And again they lost. After 1974 and 1978 Holland have again come close to the World Cup, but in a rough final in Soccer City, Johannesburg Spain scored the only goal - a goal that should have been denied for offside - late in the second half of overtime, just after John Heitinga had been booked a second time and sent off.

There was nothing wrong with Spanish victory. Spain were the better side as the Dutch were limited to stopping Spain with all means necessary. The game was overly physical and the very poor referee Howard Webb had no means of calming the players down.

But even though the Spanish victory was deserved, a feeling of 'what if' will remain with the Dutch team. What if Robben had scored on one of the two occasions he was face to face with Spanish goal keeper Iker Casillas? What if he had gone down when Puyol held him in the 80th minute? And what if Webb had seen that just before the Spanish goal both a Spanish defender and the goal keeper touched Wesley Sneijder's shot? All in the stadium and in front of a TV saw Holland should have had a corner, except for the abysmal referee. Those were moments at which Holland could have decided the game. Because it was at a time when Spain put great pressure on the Dutch defense and seemed about to score.

The final had come to life only after the break. In the first half Holland needed a lot of fouls to contain Spain. The Spaniards had some chances in the first fifteen minutes, but then Holland were able to keep Xavi round the middle line and lame the Spanish forward moves. The way they did wouldn't win a beauty contest, but it was effective. Van Bommel, De Jong and Sneijder could easily have seen a red card though.

In-between all the nastiness there was football as well, but few real chances. Arjen Robben produced one decent shot that was saved well by Casillas.

That same Robben could have given Holland the lead in the 60th minute, when he was sent on his way towards Casillas with a great Sneijder pass. Robben took his time and then saw his effort blocked by the right food of the Spanish goal keeper.

Robben's chance came in a phase in which Holland were the stronger side, but after Robben's miss the Spaniards took the initiative again and put Holland under tremendous pressure. Joan Capdevila, David Villa and Sergio Ramos had good opportunities to score.

Holland were suffering, but in the 84th minute Robben beat Puyol on speed, the Barcelona player tugged Robben a bit and that was just enough to make him miss the chance. The goal would have been decisive at that time.

In extra time Spain then turned out to be too strong. With Kuyt and De Jong off, Holland missed the lungs to keep closing the Spanish down. Many Spanish chances followed, but the game was decided after a sparse Dutch counter attack. Holland should have had a corner, but Webb turned a blind eye and from the goal kick Spain found Iniesta coming in behind Van der Vaart, and although offside on the first attempt to reach him, the little forward was allowed to proceed and beat Stekelenburg from 10 meters out.

It's a petty the referee had to be so influential in this game and leave the Dutch hungover. But Holland played a good tournament that in the end leaves them with a new trauma.

 

Goals

0-1 116' A. Iniesta

 

Cards

15' R. van Persie  
  17' C. Puyol
22' M. van Bommel  
  23' Sergio Ramos
28' N. de Jong  
54' G. van Bronckhorst  
57' J. Heitinga  
  67' Joan Capdevila
84' A. Robben  
109' J. Heitinga2e Gele kaart  
111' G. van der Wiel  
117' J. Mathijsen  
  118' A. Iniesta
  120' Xavi

 

Lineups

M. Stekelenburg   I. Casillas  
G. van der Wiel   C. Puyol  
J. Heitinga   Gerard Piqué  
J. Mathijsen   Sergio Ramos  
G. van Bronckhorst 105' E. Braafheid A. Iniesta  
M. van Bommel   Joan Capdevila  
N. de Jong 99' R. Van der Vaart S. Busquets  
W. Sneijder   Xabi Alonso 87' Cesc Fabregas
A. Robben   Xavi  
D. Kuyt 71' E. Elia D. Villa 106' Fernando Torres
R. van Persie   Pedro 60' Jesús Navas

 

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