The Dutch always look good on the pitch, but don't always get the proper result. This year's bunch looks destined to under-achieve as they will enter the last game of the group phase with ZERO points.
Style points never matter in soccer. All that matters is the final result. For all the immense talent that The Netherlands have had for many years on the pitch, the country has NEVER won the World Cup and has only won the European Championship once. This year's team, despite having names like Robben, Van Pirsie, De Jong, Van Bommel, Van Der Vaart and Snejder in their lineup look destined to be cast off before the knock out phase even begins.
So what is going wrong?
What's wrong is that though their soccer looks good it's not as effective when they face the likes of the big boys in the world and Europe who have the same amount of technique and understanding of tactics, but feature a tad more grit. And when I say grit, I don't just mean one or two guys. Players like De Jong and Van Bommel always bring the noise on crunching tackles but other players might be too content to play the only way really...that they know how to play.
And everyone has figured it out. The Dutch team is soft.
Denmark did not fear The Netherlands. Germany certainly didn't fear them on Wednesday and Portugal will not later this week. What is there to fear? Shut down Van Persie...send help on Robben and he will eventually dribble into trouble. Keep Van Bommel and De Jong more committed to defending than attacking and it's over.
USA coach Jurgen Klinsmann was quoted recently saying that his U.S. players had to be more "nasty." I know exactly what he meant and the same can be said for the Dutch. It's not just actions of hard legal tackles, but it's an entire mindset and it's a necessary evil in the modern game, no matter how pretty it continues to get.
The Dutch will not hold up another trophy until they add that element into their game and it's too late to do it now for this European Cup. Dirk Kuyt needs to be on the field from the start...he exemplifies a player who has loads of skill, tenacity and grit and can change the game for the Dutch...which they sorely need. Hopefully for Dutch fans he will start against Portugal, but it will still be a rough road.
Too much talent and not enough winning...it's too bad, because they play beautifully. But again, this game never has and never will award trophies based on style points.
ARE THE DUTCH THE BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT IN THE TOURNAMENT SO FAR?
Mark Vincent Lincir is the author of THE GIFT OF STOPPAGE TIME
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