Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Dutch Back In the Finals

With today's victory over the Uruguayans, the Netherlands are a step closer to winning their elusive first World Cup title.  Awaiting us is a possible classic rematch of the 1974 World Cup final with the Germans or a matchup with Spain that would guarantee a new country will win its first title (not too mention a great matchup of possession oriented attacking teams).

It's hard to root against the Dutch, but I think the best sentiment I've heard is that if the Netherlands wins the title this year it will be the equivalent of Martin Scorsese's "lifetime achievement" best director Oscar win for The Departed.  I really really enjoyed the Departed, more than a lot of people, but it clearly wasn't Scorsese's best work and it was an injustice that he hadn't won a statue before. 

Well, this isn't remotely the best Dutch team (would it even crack the top 5?), and there still seems to be something about them that is underwhelming.  Their defense and Skelkenburg in goal don't exactly inspire tons of confidence, and despite their very good attack they've yet to really seem completely in sync and in a groove for a full 90 minutes.  They've played wonderfully at times, but I haven't been truly awed at any point.  But maybe that's what's needed to finally reach the summit.

I guess it also doesn't help that I still detest van Persie, van Bommell (and Nigel de Jong, though he was suspended today) continues to hack and foul at will, while Robben writhes in agony at the slightest breath blown his direction.  Not to mention Dirk Kuyt is so ugly you almost want to root against him so he'll stop being shown in HD.  Oddly enough the player I like the most is Wesley Sneijder, someone who was widely believed to be a rotten apple prior to leading Inter Milan's treble this season and now the Dutch World Cup run.

Couple all the above with Diego Forlan's brilliance -- it was quite amazing that he kept stepping up in the clutch and dragging Uruguay with him, an admiral feat even if you don't like the Uruguayans or if you felt wronged by the Most Infamous/Greatest Red Card in History -- I almost found myself rooting for La Celeste.  But the Oranje wouldn't be denied, and neither are we denied one of the superior finals matchups that we've all been rooting for, and that ultimately left me happy with the day's result. 

They won't be favorites in the Final, but bravo to the Dutch -- they've deserved all their victories, they brought style to the tournament, and they are worthy finalists. 

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