Samba Style vs Dutch Delights – prepare to be let down

by Keith O'Connell

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

“It was a long time ago, Total Football – if you play like that now it’s very hard to win the Cup”.  For anyone expecting a riotous feast of football in this afternoons quarter final offering, the words of Netherland’s coach Bert van Marwijk should serve a stark warning that we may be about to witness yet another 90 minutes of tedium at this summers World Cup.

“What? Are you mad?”, I hear you cry.  If only I were.  Brazil vs Holland.  A match that whets the appetite of the great and the good.  Two international sides that have entertained and delighted throughout the years, never more so than when they have met each other at footballs grand showpiece.

At USA ’94 we had Romario, Bebeto, Bergkamp and Branco each scoring goals of immense beauty amidst a Quarter-final match up that set the pulses racing.  Even though the Dutch once again came up short as they so often do, they contributed to a festival of football that had fans and critics alike drooling with delight.

Fast forward to France ’98 and this time the semi-final stage.  Both sides once again fully committed to attack, though at the same time balanced enough not to be humiliated at the back.  Holland, whose team included Marc Overmars, Edgar Davids, Frank de Boer, Ronald de Boer, and again Bergkamp, were met by the sturdy yet flamboyant combination of the likes of Roberto carlos, Cafu, Dunga, Rivaldo and Ronaldo.  After a gripping end to end encounter puctuated by superb goals from Kluivert and Ronaldo the game was decided by a penalty shootout, disappointingly for the Dutch who failed the 12 yard challenge.

Fast forward to 2010 and football is an entirely different prospect  to what it was in these enlightened times.  Entertainment now comes a distant second to success.  This philosophy, perpetuated by the likes of Jose Mourinho and his diabolically defensive teams, has slowly seeped through to all levels of football.  Interestingly enough it is a concept that the English national team failed to apply, proving that both negative and positive styles of football are entirely beyond us.

Back to the game today, and I sincerely hope that I am proved wrong.  Nothing would please me more than to see both teams fly out of the blocks and play incisive, attacking and entertaining football, much as Holland and Russia served up during Euro 2008.  The sad fact is that although lauded for their displays, the end result amounted to the quarter finals for the Dutch and the semis for the Russians, and therein lies the rub.  Dunga has been lambasted in Brazil for creating a team in his own image (defensive and mean, with very little thrills) whilst Van Marwijk is attacked by his countrymen for instilling in his team the same kind of one paced, effective, defensive and squeezing football.

Sadly, “Win at all costs” is the new mantra.  However, if this results in a sixth triumph for Brazil or indeed a first for Holland these criticisms will surely be short lived.

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  • dexylongshot

    what a game, holland coming back 2-1, 10 to go, Schneider is now my player of the tournament, he is just superb!!!

  • stevie

    see ya later, so basically, Brazil just a little bit better than England!

    Come on the Dutch! A nice change to have a different winner.

    The future is Orange!

  • dexylongshot

    The gutting thing is, when we drew with Holland last year, we gifted them two silly back passes much like the Germany game, then came back and outplayed them in the 2nd half on their Manor, where was that spirit for this tournament? I’m fully behind the Dutch, i’d love to see them do it.

  • Darren

    deosnt mean anything, that was a friendly. And Holland have just proved that friendlies mean jack shit after winning their 15th competitive game on the spin!

    Come on the Dutch, do it for Europe!

  • Keith O’Connell

    The first half pretty much lived down to my pessimistic expectations, but i felt I was proved slightly wrong by the second half. It had a bit of everything didn’t it?

    Like you guys I’m behind the Dutch boys all the way now (in fact I have been ever since England failed so miserably). I fancy them to take on either Germany or Argentina in the final with RVP netting a late winner!

  • dexylongshot

    I want the Dutch to win too, I have dutch flag issue sambas on as i type and am almost wetting myself at the thought of a possible Holland V Germany final. My tourno fave Wesley Schneider as been smashing in the goals and assists (some of goals were assists!) but i’m not complaining, especially as i’m mauling my dreamteam and am also in the money on a couple of t’internet based wc moneymakers, payday cometh!

  • Bill

    The Dutch National Team hasn’t lost since November 2007, which makes me wonder if they can win it all this year, especially after their come from behind victory over Brazil. That being said, I don’t think they are strong enough to defeat Germany or Spain in the Final.

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