It’s not often that we can say that of a Holland team in any major championships. Since the 90’s, there has been a lot of in-fighting within the Dutch squad which tend to scupper their chances of winning any tournaments, despite possessing many star individuals in the same squad. Somehow at South Africa 2010, things are beginning to chance.
Whether it’s the lack of Surinamese players in the squad or whether in Bert Van Marwijk the Dutch FA have finally found someone who can hold the team together, either way Holland now are the favourites not only to advance to the final but also to win it. Uruguay stand in their way tonight and this is surely their toughest match thus far.
While Holland had to get through Brazil to reach the semifinal, Uruguay had a much easier path in facing South Korea and also Ghana to get here. No disrespect to both the latter sides, but Oscar Tabarez’s side will have to work doubly hard in this game to even continue their journey in this year’s tournament. Without doubt, Diego Forlan is their talisman up front. He is skilled on the ball and possessed a venomous striking power in his boots as South Africa found out. Joris Mathijsen and Johnny Heitinga would have to stay on alert and close Forlan down should he choose to unleash that power.
Throughout the competition, Uruguay have proved to be a tough nut to crack. The only goal that they have conceded (penalty shootout notwithstanding) was to the Koreans. Traditionally, they also have been a very good defensive side. But problems may appear in this game as they will be without the impeccable Jorge Fucile and the doubtful Diego Lugano in defence. On the other side, the biggest lost to the Holland side is Nigel De Jong, the fighter in the middle of the park.
Robin Van Persie has yet to set this tournament alight yet, neither in performance or in terms of goals. After scoring freely in the friendlies running up to this tournament, it seemed to have dried up for Van Persie. I just get a feeling that his tournament starts today. The attention from Uruguay will be more on Robben and Wesley Sneijder, which could give the Arsenal striker more room to operate in.
After the disappointment at France 98 and Euro 2000, Holland are once again looking like the side the beat. A win tonight and they have a chance to better Johann Cryuff’s side who finished runners-up twice in consecutive World Cups. Being the last South American side in the tournament, Uruguay are hoping to stop them. Only 5 more hours to go, this World Cup aren’t so bad after all.