From the Dutch bench

14:28, July 11, 2010      

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In China we to say: You will get it for your third try, good or bad.

There is no country which has won the World Cup three times in a row but there is also no country which hasn't won the World Cup having reached the final three times.

After making it to the final in 1974 and 1978, the time has come for Holland, which has produced a host of talented players such as Johan Cruyff, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Patrick Kluivert, Clarence Seedorf, Marco van Basten, Dennis Bergkamp and now Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder, just to name a few.

Germany won the 1990 World Cup after reaching the finals in 1982 and 1986. Brazil has won five times in seven final appearances, Italy four out of six, Argentina two out of four, Uruguay two out of two and France one out of two.

You have to have a 50 percent rate of reaching the final before eventually winning the title. For Spain, it's its first final.

Holland remain unbeaten in this tournament. In the 80 years of the World Cup, 18 winners have not lost a match on their ways to victory, totalling 16 wins and two draws. In this sense, Spain's 1-0 loss to Switzerland in its first group match has already ruled it out. (Germany should not have lost to Serbia).

Luck has also been falling on the Dutch team's side. Opponents have found it hard to score against the Oranje, whether it's one-on-one with the goalkeeper or with help from the referees. The Dutch scored all three goals against Uruguay by deflections off the posts, including an offside one.

Practical play has become a winning method. Total Football no longer exists as the Dutch are paying more attention to defense. The Italian victory four years ago demonstrated defense is crucial. Under coach Bert van Marwijk, the Dutch have lost only one match, a friendly to Australia, in 2008. After that defeat they have been on a 24-game unbeaten run, including nine straight victories. Practical Soccer pays dividends.

The Netherlands entered the World Cup as one of the dark horses. But they beat an even darker one, Uruguay, before reaching the final. In the past, Cup winners all eliminated dark horses before taking the Cup - Italy beating Ukraine in 2006, Brazil beating Turkey in 2002, France beating Croatia in 1998 and Brazil beating the US in 1994. It may not be a necessity but to beat a dark horse seems like a touchstone to test your championship ability.

Spain are the favorites but the Dutch will beat the odds.

Source: China Daily


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