Tag: Netherlands

Euro 2012 – The Runners & Riders: The Netherlands

With the benefit of hindsight, there seems something inevitable about the crowning of Spain as the world champions in South Africa two years ago. Yet the Netherlands came within minutes of taking the match to a penalty shoot-out and since then have continued the form that they demonstrated, becoming, in August of last year, only the second team in the history of the game to reach number one in FIFAs world rankings without having won the tournament. The Dutch team remains one of the favourites to win this summer’s competition, but the side that fought – in some respects literally – its way to the finals of the World Cup won few friends on the way, and represented something of a break with the in some ways idealistic traditions of the team with its defensive and aggressive system. The History: World Cup finalists on three occasions and European Champions once, there is probably no other nation on earth for which there is such a contrast between size and population with success on the football pitch. This is a dynasty that began in the early 1970s with the development of the total football system of Rinus Michels. In 1974, his team coasted to the World Cup final before being beaten by the host nation West Germany, and it is this team which inspires one of the great what ifs in...

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European Championship Stories: 1988 – Revenge Is A Dish Best Served Cold

There can be few things more tiresome in international football than war analogies. Sometimes, however, they are inescapable and this can be no more true than in the case of European nations which once pitched up against each other on battlefields, only to find themselves facing off against their former allies or rivals for decades afterwards. In the case of the Dutch national team, the complex nature of its relationship with its neighbour – and former occupier – Germany has come to manifest itself through an occasional series of  gladiatorial matches between the two national sides. The Netherlands team has become so well-established in the latter stages of major tournaments in recent years that it is easy to forget that this wasn’t always the case. Although they won three consecutive bronze medals at the early Olympic Games, a lack of professionalism meant that increases in quality at the top level of the game left the Netherlands team behind. They did send a team to both the 1934 and 1938 World Cups, but they were knocked out in the First Round both times, by Switzerland and Czechoslovakia respectively. After the war, the team didn’t compete in the first two World Cups, which were held in Brazil and Switzerland, but football in the Netherlands was starting to change. Professionalism in football was legalised in the Netherlands in 1954 and a national league,...

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The 2010 World Cup Final: Netherlands 0-1 Spain

It’s a curious sight. The BBC’s panel is sitting, for the first time in this tournament suited and booted, in its base studio outside the Green Point Stadium in Cape Town, almost eight hundred miles from Johannesberg, where the match itself is being played. It looks deserted, behind them. It probably is – everybody will be at home, watching the build-up to the 2010 World Cup final. Still, at least they won’t have anybody banging on the glass behind them and laughing at Alan Shearer’s male pattern baldness. The preamble to this match carries a somewhat curiously dislocated air to it. The Netherlands have never played Spain in either the European Championship or World Cup finals, so there is no historical precedent between the two teams that can particularly drawn upon, no matter how irrelevant it may be. Instead, the BBC choose to interview Howard Webb (memo to the 2018 bid committee – “England: Referee Of The World” is not an appropriate sub-heading for the tender documents), recreate some moments from the finals through the medium of smiling African boys and then interview a number of people on the subject of what it means to South Africa to host the World Cup (the answer, condensed to three words, is, “quite a lot”). Next up is Garth Crooks, who meets Ruud Krol, a man who, according to Crooks, “epitomised the...

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The Beautiful War – Rinus Michels & The Reinvention Of Dutch Football

One of the more surprising requirements made of the Dutch team playing in this week’s World Cup final is that it is not enough for them merely to win the tournament. They are still widely expected to win it with style, and this level of expectation is largely the responsibility of one man – Rinus Michels. Never mind the fact that the Netherlands has a population that is one-third that of England, or that they didn’t even qualify for the finals of the competition between 1938 and 1974. The Dutch team that Michels built inspired such awe that the burden of expectation continues to cast its long shadow more than three and a half decades after it made its debut. The Dutch teams of the 1974 and 1978 World Cups have come to be regarded as almost ideological. For some, they are the footballing equivalent of hippydom, free-flowing, long-haired and bedecked in rosary beads, they sum up the decade during which they flowered more closely than any team before or since. They are regarded by some, not just as the greatest team to never win a World Cup, but as the greatest time of all time. While it is easy to get carried away with the Focus soundtrack (the yodelling, Dutch prog-rock band hit their commercial zenith as Michels’ team was approaching its full stride) and the luxuriant sideburns,...

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World Cup 2010: Uruguay I-Spy

Our resident pencil wrangler Dotmund was very excited about the prospect of Uruguay playing the Netherlands. However, we at Twohundredpercent have noticed that some of his match reports during the tournament have been somewhat lacking in the factual department. As such, we sent hm off with an I-Spy fact sheet so that he could accurately record match events as they happened. This morning he returned with the results. Sadly, they left much to be desired.

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