Discipline gets talented stars into WCup final

Published Jul. 6, 2010 8:25 p.m. ET

Bert van Marwijk's insistence on adding disciplined play to natural Dutch flair has guided the team into a World Cup final 32 years after its last.

A relatively little known coach compared with compatriots Guus Hiddink, Johan Cruyff, Marco van Basten, Dick Advocaat, Frank Rijkaard and Louis van Gaal, he has made sure his talented players know what to do when they don't have the ball.

After a 3-2 victory over Uruguay put his team into Sunday's final against either Spain or Germany, he said he had great respect for previous Dutch coaches, but described how he had overcome a Dutch tendency to get a little too confident when they are winning.

``I do it my way. We can play very good football, beautiful football,'' Van Marwijk said. ``But sometimes when things go well we relax and we get knocked out. I've tried to make it clear to the players that there is always another game.

``Tactically, I've tried to teach the team to defend. I love attacking and beautiful football, but you have to work together when the opponent has the ball and then you can go a long way.''

Like with the past great Dutch teams who reached two World Cup finals but lost both, this one has imaginative attacking players such as Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder and Robin van Persie.

But it also has the hardworking Dirk Kuyt, who can play on either flank and regularly gets back to help his defenders when he doesn't have the ball.


``Kuyt is of course a true example of a team player, so focused and working so hard for the team and he has done that throughout the championship,'' Van Marwijk said. ``I make this comparison with Barcelona. When Barca loses the ball, stars such as (Lionel) Messi, (Andres) Iniesta or Xavi (Hernandez) try and help out by getting it back. Now these people (on the Netherlands team) are also prepared to exercise pressure on the ball and do the first defending work for the team and we have been rather successful.''

Van Marwijk didn't let his team off without some minor criticism, however.

He said that Maxi Pereira's late second strike for Uruguay left his team with a scary last few minutes after they had looked comfortable at 3-1.

``We should have scored more goals,'' he said ``We had opportunities. It was because we didn't score more goals and settled the game, that they nearly caused problems at the end.''