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Posted: Monday July 5, 2010 11:31AM ; Updated: Tuesday July 6, 2010 2:58PM
Georgina Turner

Netherlands vs. Uruguay instant analysis

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    World Cup History 101, Lesson #1: The Netherlands
    Unofficially, the best team in the world in the 1970s. Everyone, regardless of habitual sexual preference, wanted to do the wild thing with Johans Neeskens and Cruyff, and would have at least let the others watch. Officially, beaten in two consecutive World Cup finals by the hosts, West Germany in 1974, and Argentina in 1978. Threatened to do something in the 1990s but was halted by Brazil in 1994 (quarterfinal) and 1998 (semifinal).

    World Cup History 101, Lesson #2: Uruguay
    Winner of the inaugural World Cup as host in 1930, and again when Brazil hosted in 1950. Got to two subsequent semi-finals (1954 and 1970), lost both and got beaten in both third-place playoffs to boot. This is its first foray beyond the second round since 1970 – in fact, until putting three past South Africa in the second group match, Uruguay hadn't actually won a World Cup finals match since beating South Korea 1-0 in 1990.

    World Cup History 101, Lesson #3: The Netherlands v Uruguay
    These two have only met once, in the first round in 1974: the Dutch won 2-0 thanks to two goals from Johnny Rep. The Uruguayans were probably slightly distracted by a huge kerfuffle over cash – neither players nor staff would give media interviews without being guaranteed a wodge of the stuff, but Uruguay was a spent force in any case. That Netherlands side went on to beat Brazil and Argentina before that final defeat to West Germany.

    Netherlands: Maarten Stekelenburg, Khalid Boulahrouz, John Heitinga, Joris Mathijsen, Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Mark van Bommel, Demy de Zeeuw, Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder, Dirk Kuyt, Robin van Persie.

    Uruguay: Fernando Muslera, Maxi Pereira, Diego Godin, Mauricio Victorino, Martin Caceres, Diego Perez, Walter Gargano, Egidio Arevalo, Alvaro Pereira, Edinson Cavani, Diego Forland.

    To the couple of Dutch readers I seem to have upset by suggesting that the matches involving the Netherlands haven't exactly been riveting, I apologize. But I will just point out that, according to Opta, the Dutch have the lowest proportion of passes in opposition territory of all teams in South Africa, at 53%. Now let's leave it at that, eh?

    National ditties: Uruguay's classical number has a few players biting air for a few bars ... it's almost like they're not entirely sure when to come in on this one. To be fair to them, the words and the tune aren't a perfect fit. The Oranje have taken over the stands, and get the volume up for their anthem.

  • 1'


    Kickoff: Uruguay kick off in their usual sky blue, while the Netherlands are sporting a fetching new green kit today. Oh no, no, it's the usual orange. My bad.

  • 2'

    A slightly hectic opening minute gives way to a second minute of frequently exchanged possession, mostly in the Dutch half of the pitch.

  • 4'

    For the first time since 1971, Robben goes down the outside, on his right, and completely foxes Caceres. His cross isn't up to much, but Sneijder swings the rebound in and Muslera's punch drops to Kuyt. He lashes it on the volley, but it clears the bar rather comfortably.

  • 6'

    Alvaro Pereira sights Stekelenburg off his line and tries a cheeky lob from halfway, but it doesn't come off. "I want to like the Dutch," says John Thomas. "I like the orange, and the funky fans, and the fact that they have Amsterdam. But I don't want to see the fake injuries and not-so-subtle dives these guys constantly take. Do you own a vuvuzela?" Um, no.

  • 10'

    The Dutch are holding onto the ball for the longer spells, and Kuyt has a couple of chances to put the ball into the box, but Uruguay scrappily see off the danger. This game still hasn't settled into a pattern.

  • 12'

    "I expect Holland has the overall talent to win," says Mark Schmidt, "though I think Forlan may force them to score more than they did against Brazil." Forlan and Cavani are struggling to combine their wits at the moment, though they weren't helped by a dodgy offside call a moment ago.

  • 14'

    In the space of about a minute, Sneijder sees his shot deflected away from goal by Robin van Persie's backside (he's finally doing something in the opposition box, at least), and Forlan is called offside having shot from an acute angle on the right. I don't know what he's looking so upset about. The shot went out for a throw-in anyway.

  • 18'

    Goal - Van Bronckhorst

    GOAL! Van Bronckhorst has just scored an amazing goal from distance!

    What a strike it was. ... Sneijder plays the ball across to him on the left looking to create a move, and van Bronckhorst thinks to himself, 'Hullo, I spy a chance here' and arrows it from about 35 yards out straight into the far post and spinning into the goal.

  • 22'

    The Netherlands have a free kick on the right thanks to another classic "Agony" face from Robben, but he doesn't lift it above the first man.

  • 23'

    Yellow Card - Pereira

    I should add that Maxi Pereira was booked for that coming together with Robben, but cards will be wiped off after this match, so his final is in no danger if Uruguay can change this score around.

  • 27'

    It's all kicking off here, and I can't fathom what started it and who made it worse...

  • 28'

    OK, it all started when Caceres tried an overhead kick and instead made contact with de Zeeuw's face, which is leaking blood all over the place. The rest was just handbags, it seems.

  • 30'

    Yellow Card - Caceres & Sneijder

    Caceres gets a booking after all that. Sneijder appears to get one for a rather fey hand into Caceres' face. Now play can resume, finally.

  • 32'

    Hairy moment for Caceres, fending off Robben as the Dutchman looked to latch onto a pass into the penalty area. In the end, Robben gets a whistle from the referee to relieve the pressure. In a moment of wonderful irony at the other end, the Oranje complain about a dive (and it was a dive, but still) from Cavani.

  • 35'

    What a waste! Uruguay enjoys its best spell of possession for a while (about 90 seconds, but in this game so far, that's a ruby wedding), but when Cavani wriggles his way free in the penalty area, he's faced with several orange shirts and lumps the ball straight into them.

  • 37'

    "With Paraguay out, I no longer have a reason to cheer for Uruguay," explains Gary Cliff. "And, like John Thomas, I can't like the Dutch due to their incessant flopping. Can we have no one win this and call Germany vs. Spain the final?" Perhaps we can call tomorrow's game The People's Final, and all wear berets.

  • 40'

    Goal - Forlan

    GOAL! Forlan has equalised for Uruguay!

    Just when I was giving up on this half containing any football even worthy of rubbing shoulders with van Bronckhorst's goal, Forlan jinks past Mathisjen and shoots from outside the area. The ball is spinning away from Stekelenburg slightly, but he should have got a better touch on it and kept it out.

  • 44'

    Stekelenburg cuddles a Forlan freekick fondly having got his whole body behind it this time. "Have you ever seen someone bicycle kick someone in the face before?" asks SI's very own Joe Posnanski. A fair few times, Joe - some teeth-flying humdingers. Didn't someone else get a boot to the face earlier in the tournament?

  • 47'


    Kuyt sneaks around the back of the Uruguay defense having meandered over to the right, but can't get his eager little forehead onto the ball. He's called offside in any case, but once again the linesman is wrong. That's halftime, folks.

    A halftime thought from Jimmy Perez: "Is it just me, or has the passing not been very crisp? Still, two world class strikes by van Bronckhorst and Forlan..." Average pass completion is 62 percent.

  • 48'

    Second half


    Out: De Zeeuw , In: Van der Vaart

    Rafael van der Vaart comes on in place of Demy de Zeeuw, which looks like a positive move from van Marwijk. "Sergio Ramos got a kick in the face against Paraguay," Daniel Yi reminds me. That's the one.

  • 49'

    The second half begins much as the first did, with neither side able to hold onto the ball long enough to worry anyone.

  • 51'

    "Van Bommel should have been sent off already before the Dutch goal went in," reckons Derek Edwards, and he's not far wrong. "Astonishing he's never even booked." It is quite a feat -- he's caught some people very late in this tournament. Stekelenburg hares out of his goal and can only watch helplessly as Pereira attempts to show him up by scoring, but there's an orange shirt ready to head it away.

  • 53'

    Uruguay have started this half the brighter, psychologically speaking.

  • 55'

    "Yes, Ramos got kicked in the face," concedes Jose Posnanski, who's not easily pleased. "But not BICYCLE kicked in the face. I thought it was impressive anyway." I'm just very sorry to have to tell you that it definitely wasn't the first time anyone has ever been bicycle kicked in the face on a football pitch.

  • 58'

    A Uruguay attack peters out after a series of poor touches, which is a shame because the ball forward from Perez that started the whole thing was really rather good.

  • 60'

    Another glimmer of goal threat from Uruguay, but the final ball drops perfectly into Stekelenburg's arms. "It appears that Robben and Van Bommel have perfected soccer powers antithetical to each other," theorizes Subash from Chicago. "Robben's gift is in drawing a foul, often when there is none, and Van Bommel seems unable to be whistled for a foul despite repeatedly committing them. So when you factor in Suarez's hand ball, with which team do you think the karmic power lays today? I'm hoping Uruguay." I think karma might have given up on this one and decided to let them fight it out.

  • 62'

    The Netherlands' afternoon in microcosm: van Persie manages to outrun Pereira, and crosses to Sneijder, whose shot pings straight back to van Persie on the right side of the penalty area.

  • 65'

    The major difference between these two has been their approach when they don't have the ball: Uruguay press from front to back, harrying the Dutch into rushed passes, while the Netherlands are happy to let Uruguay come forward unhindered until the final third. The risk for Uruguay is running out of puff; for the Netherlands, its misjudgment.

  • 68'

    Vital save from Muslera! Van der Vaart finds himself inside the area with the ball after a reverse pass from van Persie and looks to have put the ball into the far corner until Muslera hand pushes it away. Robben picks up the rebound but skies his shot.

  • 70'

    Goal - Sneijder

    GOAL! Looks like a very offside goal from the Netherlands, that.

    Sneijder shoots from just outside the area, curling it towards the far post; van Persie attempts to play the ball but misses and the ball swirls past Muslera. Van Persie was definitely offside and must, surely, be active by the laws of the game. In any case, the Dutch have another goal and Uruguay have to pick themselves up and get on with it.

  • 73'

    Goal - Robben

    GOAL! No doubt about Robben's goal there; that's 3-1.

    It's a lovely, delicate ball into the box from Kuyt on the left, and Robben leapt like a salmon to put his forehead on it. It bounces off the not-quite-bald fuzz and in off the near post.

  • 76'

    The Dutch conga has started around the stadium, but Uruguay haven't quite given up on this, even if Forlan's pass is hopelessly over-hit. "One of the ladies I work with happened to be standing by when Forlan scored his goal," says Michael McKay, "and upon seeing him running with his arms spread out said, 'Oh! He's cute. My daughter wears those rubber bands in her hair, too!'"

  • 77'


    Out: Pereira , In: Abreu

    Alvaro Pereira is replaced by Sebastian Abreu, the hairy forward that scored that cheeky winning penalty against Ghana.

  • 79'

    "I'm of the opinion that anybody who receives a kick in the face is probably not too concerned about the technique," says polyester, and s/he's got a point. "Never having been on the business end of one, however, this is just speculation."

  • 82'

    Almost another goal for Robben, who pounced on a mistake from Uruguay, who are playing urgent, hurried football. He slotted the ball to Sneijder and continued his run to try and meet the up-and-over ball, but the defenders hustled him out of the way.

  • 84'


    Out: Forlan , In: Fernandez

    Forlan, who looks like a young lad who's woken up to find Christmas is cancelled, is replaced by Sebastian Fernandez.

  • 85'

    He was hoping for a train set as well.

  • 87'

    Argh! For all of Robben's brilliance on the ball at times, that was really not one to remember. The build-up had YouTube classic written all over it, van der Vaart feeding the ball through to van Persie, who stabs it away to the right for Robben to run onto ... but when Robben gets within shooting distance, he bumbles the ball into Muslera's hands like a balled up pair of socks.

  • 89'


    Out: Robben , In: Elia

    Robben makes way for Eljero Elia, high-fiving everyone within about 20 yards.

  • 90'

    Elia almost instantly sets up Sneijder, having himself been played into the area by van Persie, who has had his best half hour at this World Cup here today.

  • 92'

    Goal - Pereira

    GOAL! Uruguay have a goal back through Maxi Pereira, who races in from the right and just plants it in the far corner to the shock of even his own teammates. We have about 80 seconds to see if they can pull something out of the bag...

  • 94'

    And still they play on...

  • 95'

    The ref keeps his whistle in his mouth as Uruguay look like they might fashion one last chance, but when the ball is eventually poked a few yards clear of the area, he peep-peeps the Netherlands into the final. Uruguay will have to make do with Saturday's third-place playoff. I'll leave you with this little story from Paul Roslyn, since it made me laugh out loud:

    "I was once kicked in the face in an inter-camp match one summer. At the time I took solace in the fact that chicks dig shiners. Several years later, I ended up playing club ball with the lad who kicked me, and even ended up rooming with him on tournament trips. While I can't say we discussed the technique of his bicycle kick from years before, I definitely dipped his toothbrush in the toilet bowl as revenge." Have a good evening everyone, see you tomorrow for Germany v. Spain - send me your camp/school memories to the usual address in readiness for a spot of mid-match reminiscing.

Editor's note: Please refresh for updates

I'm told the group match between this pair at 1974's World Cup showed the Dutch at their finest and the South Americans at their dirtiest -- Johann Neeskens, in particular, was kicked about the place all afternoon, but the Netherlands emerged with a 2-0 win that might have been bigger. The Dutch are favourites again here, especially with Uruguay missing Luis Suarez and Jorge Fucile through suspension -- and injuries to Diego Lugano and Nicolas Lodeiro.

The match kicks off at 2.30 p.m. ET, so if you're stuck in the office, be sure to be here from about 2.15 p.m. and I'll bring you live instant analysis of the game smattered with odds moments of wit (or moments of odd wit). You can email your comments to me at: georgina.turner.si@gmail.com.

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