Road To The Final: The Netherlands

Dutch LogoThe World Cup Final has been decided at last! On Sunday, June the 11th, The Netherlands will take on Spain in what promises to be a thrilling encounter to decide who takes home the World Cup. On their way to the final, the Oranje powered their way past many teams, including Brazil, Uruguay and Slovakia. This is the Dutch Road To The Final.

As soon as the World Cup started, the Oranje showed the world they were very much in it to win it.Starting off with a 2-0 win over Denmark, the Dutch showed no signs of slowing down and followed up their first triumph with a second, a 1-0 win over Japan. Cameroon were next in line for the Dutch as they looked to make it three straight wins from their first three matches at the World Cup.
Samuel Eto’s Indomitable Lions tried all they could to resist wave after wave of oncoming attacks from The Netherlands.  They could only hold out so long however and the Dutch finally broke through on 36 minutes as Robin Van Persie slotted home after a through ball from slit the Cameroonian defense apart. Cameroon soon leveled the match through an Eto’o penalty but the Dutch re-established control late in the second half after a stunning shot from Arjen Robben struck the post and fell into the path of Klass Van Huntelaar. He made no mistake and shot the ball home. The Dutch held on for the win and this victory ensured first place qualification from their group. Not only this, but it also sent out a message to potential opponents that The Dutch were no push overs-a message that a certain Brazilian side would soon learn.
After collecting the maximum 9 points from 3 games, the Dutch entered the Round Of 16; Here they found themselves locking horns against Slovakia- who qualified second from Group F. The match proved to be relatively simple for the Dutch though and they comfortably won it 2-1, the sole Slovakian goal coming from a penalty in the dying minutes. It was after this match though, that the Netherlands came up against what proved to be their sternest test till then- Brazil!. The Samba Boys from Brazil were undoubtedly favourites going into the World Cup and they maintained exceptional form throughout the tournament, not losing a single match. That was soon to change however as they came up against The Netherlands in the Quarter- Finals stage in what promised to be a scintillating affair. And It was just that.
 As soon as the match kicked off, the Brazilians jumped into fifth gear and launched several attacks on the Dutch goal. Their relentless pressure soon took its toll and they took the lead in the 10th minute as Robinho coolly slid the ball into the waiting net after receiving a delightful through ball from Kaka. The Dutch seemed to be deflated by the Brazilian goal and were reduced to taking only a few shots from distance in the first half. The Brazilians meanwhile, kept up the attack but were unable to score through a combination of bad luck and some last-ditch defending from the Dutch. But the situation changed as the second half began. The Dutch slowly began to build up a few attacks and finally leveled the score on 53′ minutes as a free-kick from Wesley Sneijder found its way into the back of the net due to some confusion between Felipe Melo and the goalkeeper, Julio Cesar. Brazil were awestruck and after this goal, they failed to recover their previous domination of the match. The Dutch successfully capitalized on this and Sneijder struck again on 68′ minutes to give The Netherlands the lead. They then defended well and held on for the win. The referee soon blew his whistle and the result was set in stone, Brazil were out!.
Compared to this roller coaster of a match, the semi-final was relatively easy for the Oranje. Uruguay are indeed a good team. Just not as good as the Dutch. This showed in their semi-final clash as even though the Uruguayans leveled the game with a spectacular goal from Diego Forlan and even exerted pressure on the opposition in the latter stages of the match, the Dutch never looked under much pressure in the game. They eventually won 3-2. This completed their journey to the Final.

In a few days time, the Dutch will take on The Red Fury that is Spain in what promises to be an exhillerating World Cup Final and a fitting end to South Africa 2010.

-Zain R. Mian

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