The Supplementarity Of “Anti-Football”

Amid much of the wailing about the negativity of the Dutch performance at this year’s World Cup final, some people have stuck their heads above the parapets and argued that there is a place in the game for what some might call “spoiling” football. William Abbs is one of them. Not since the Netherlands played Argentina in 1978 had the World Cup final featured two nations that had both never won the tournament before. The 2010 showpiece had a novelty value because – for the first time ever – Brazil, Germany, Argentina and Italy were all absent. Spain meeting the Netherlands was to pit the most stylish football team on the planet against the nation that had made an ideology out of attractive football in the 1970s. The reality of last Sunday’s match in Johannesburg, however, fell quite short of fantasy football. The systems of the two teams clashed but not in the way that had been expected. The Netherlands might not have played anything resembling Total Football in their run to the final but, in attempting to negate Spain, Bert van Marwijk’s team employed an unexpectedly physical approach. The Dutch’s spoiling tactics disappointed the millions of football fans across the globe who had hoped that a side featuring Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder would look at their own playing resources and find them to be a worthy match...

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