Final focus: Dutch ready to play smart game
No style points. Winning is what matters.
After losing in their two previous trips to the World Cup final,
the Netherlands is determined not to let its flashy play get ahead
of going home with the big prize.
“We know we can play football,” Dutch captain Giovanni van
Bronckhorst said. “To be mentally strong is now most
The Netherlands reached the 1974 and ’78 finals with some of
soccer’s greatest players, but each time the host nation – West
Germany and then Argentina – beat Oranje teams with a reputation
After Tuesday’s 3-2 semifinal win over Uruguay, coach Bert van
Marwijk is determined to make sure that his team’s 10-game winning
streak – including six at this tournament – does not create the
Van Marwijk’s memories of the 1974 tournament, when the Dutch
thrilled the world only to fall 2-1 to the Germans, are too strong
for him to let his players fall to the same weakness.
“Often when we start beating people, we become overly confident
and then we are sent home,” Van Marwijk said. “We did lose the
match whereas we should have won it because we played wonderfully
Dutch great “Johan Cruyff was the best football player that
The Netherlands could face Germany in the final – or Spain,
depending on the outcome of Wednesday’s semifinal.
Assistant coach Frank de Boer was a defender in 1998 when the
Dutch last reached the semifinals – only to be eliminated by Brazil
in a penalty shootout. He says the character of the Dutch team has
changed over the years.
“In ’98, we were happy just to get in the semis and could play
Brazil,” he said.
He noticed the same attitude among the Uruguay players Tuesday
night and felt a win was coming from the moment the Netherlands
players first stepped on the field.
“Let me give you a small example: I knew we’d win when a saw a
half dozen of their players come onto the field with their cameras
– and I am talking starting lineup players. They filmed the
stadium, filmed the players.”
“Then I knew our approach was much better,” De Boer said.
“That is why it is important to keep that focus.”
The Dutch coaches have the support of a talented group of
players who would love nothing better than flaunt their skills.
Striker Robin van Persie said the team won’t get carried away by
an occasion marked by fans back home painting villages and cities
orange in honor of the Dutch jersey color.
“I will only realize it looking back,” Van Persie said. “Now
I have this tunnel vision, and you just do what you have to
Forward Dirk Kuyt knows how bad it is to lose a final after
falling to AC Milan while he played for Liverpool in the 2007
“I was there and I know what it is,” Kuyt said. “It is not
going to happen to me a second time.”