Ranking Netherlands' 20 Greatest World Cup Moments

Elko Born@@Elko_BContributor IApril 25, 2014

Ranking Netherlands' 20 Greatest World Cup Moments

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    Peter Dejong

    From the Total Football of the 1970s to a hard-fought second place at the World Cup in 2010, from Johan Cruyff to Dennis Bergkamp. Throughout the years, Oranje has always fascinated and entertained. 

    Ahead of the World Cup in Brazil this summer, we take a look at Netherlands' 20 greatest World Cup moments. 

20. Van Bronckhorst's Goal Against Uruguay in 2010

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    Frank Augstein

    During the Netherlands' semi-final match against Uruguay in 2010, the Dutch were looking at players such as Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder to score the goals.

    Both Robben and Sneijder would get their goal, but it was left-back Giovanni van Bronckhorst who opened the score with an absolute screamer in the 18th minute.

    It was a well-deserved goodbye present for the Holland captain, who retired from football after the tournament. 

19. Bergkamp and Kluivert Partnership in 1998

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    Ben Radford/Getty Images

    It was France who won the World Cup in 1998. The host country beat Brazil 3-0 in the final.

    But if things had went differently, it would have been the Netherlands, who lost to Brazil on penalties in the semi-final, and not Ronaldo and his colleagues facing Les Bleus. 

    France's defence would have been pitted against Dennis Bergkamp and Patrick Kluivert—one of the most feared strike partnerships of the tournament. Together, Bergkamp and Kluivert scored five goals, but it was the way they combined and found each other so easily that was so impressive.

    Two years later, during EURO 2000, Bergkamp and Kluivert joined forces for a second tournament, but ever since then, Holland's attack has never looked so impressive again. 

18. Bergkamp's Goal Against Brazil in 1994

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    Michael Probst

    In the 64th minute of Netherlands' quarter-final match against Brazil in 1994, the Dutch were trailing 2-0. It looked like it was all over.

    But then, Dennis Bergkamp received the ball from Rob Witschge. With everything mapped out in his mind, the Arsenal legend ran past the Brazil's defence, carefully slotting the ball in the net. The score was now 2-1. Holland were back in the game

    Although no one knew at the time, Bergkamp's beautiful goal would later look like a sort of prelude to a certain quarter-final effort in 1998...

17. Arjen Robben Steps Up in 2006

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    Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

    Back in 2006, people knew that Arjen Robben—then at Chelsea—was a good player. But it wasn't quite clear yet whether he was truly world class.

    Would he be able to handle the pressure that comes with playing in a World Cup?

    As it turned out, he was able. Arjen Robben stepped up to the mark excellently during the World Cup in 2006, carrying the team through the group stage. 

16. Demy De Zeeuw Takes One for the Team in 2010

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    Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

    The Netherlands have often been criticised for their rough style of play during the World Cup in 2010.

    But it was Dutch midfielder Demy de Zeeuw who had to endure a kick to the face in Holland's semi-final against Uruguay. 

    De Zeeuw was consequently subbed for Rafael van der Vaart, but he received praise from the Dutch fans for his fearless attitude. 


15. Netherlands Battle Belgium in 1998

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    David Cannon/Getty Images

    There's nothing like a good old rivalry, and in this regard, the Netherlands and Belgium are no exceptions. The neighbouring countries always love playing against each other, as they did during the World Cup in 1998. 

    The match turned foul for a moment when Patrick Kluivert received a red card for elbowing Belgian defender Lorenzo Staelens in the chest. 

    Although the match ended in a 0-0 draw, there was plenty of excitement in this battle between brothers. 

14. Netherlands Beat South-Korea 5-0 in 1998

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    Even though unbalanced matches are not uncommon during most group stages, 5-0 is a score you don't see very often during World Cups. 

    In 1998, the Netherlands did it. Philip Cocu, Marc Overmars, Dennis Bergkamp, Pierre van Hooijdonk and Ronald de Boer each got a goal in against South Korea.

    It was the victory that got Oranje going. They would go on to reach the semi-final, where they would eventually lose on penalties against Brazil.


13. Wesley Sneijder Bosses the Midfield in 2010

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    Clive Rose/Getty Images

    You can ask Jose Mourinho, who was his manager, or any of the team-mates Sneijder won the Champions League with at Inter. Anyone will tell you: 2010 was the year of Wesley Sneijder.

    Full of confidence, Sneijder took up the role of midfield general during Holland's impressive World Cup 2010 effort, with his two goals in the quarter-final against Brazil as his most glorious performance. 

12. The World Meets Guus Hiddink in 1998

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    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Moustaches might not be forever, but some managerial legacies are. During the World Cup in 1998, the Netherlands' manager Guus Hiddink, back then best known for his stint at Valencia, truly stepped into the international limelight. 

    Hiddink would go on to manage sides like Real Madrid and Chelsea. He would also take South Korea to the semi-final of the World Cup in 2002. At the respectable age of 67, Guus Hiddink is now considered to be a managerial heavyweight. 

11. Cruyff Introduces the Cruyff Turn in 1974

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    Associated Press

    There are only a few football tricks attackers from every generation learn. There are even fewer tricks named after a footballer. The Cruyff turn, first performed by—you guessed it—Johan Cruyff during the World Cup in 1974, is an exception to the rule.

    Although the Cruyff turn is still sometimes used, few footballers can perform it with the grace and technique of the master himself

10. Davids Makes It 2-1 in 1998

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    The Netherlands were having problems in their round-of-16 match against Yugoslavia in 1998. Near the end of the second half, it was still 1-1. 

    Then there was Edgar Davids. From the edge of the area, "The Pitbull" rammed it past a confused Ivica Kralj, sealing it up for the Netherlands as they progressed to the quarter-final. 

    Imagine, for a second, what could have been had Davids not scored. The Netherlands might have been eliminated, and we wouldn't have seen Dennis Bergkamp score his wonder goal against Argentina in the quarter-final...

9. Beating East Germany in 1974

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    Granted, the Netherlands lost to West Germany in the final of the 1974 World Cup, but before that happened, the Dutch school of "Total Football" got the better of the East Germans. During the second round of the tournament, Holland beat them 2-0. 

    As geographical neighbours, the Netherlands and Germany have always been fierce rivals, and while the lost final of 1974 would eventually exacerbate things, this victory tasted sweet.

8. Kluivert Equalises in 1998

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    The semi-final between the Netherlands and Brazil during the World Cup in 1998 was a battle between two great footballing nations. It was also a battle between two great strikers: the Brazilian Ronaldo and the Dutchman Patrick Kluivert.

    In the 46th minute, Ronaldo had opened the score. In the 87th minute, Holland drew level thanks to Kluivert, who skilfully headed in the assist provided by Ronald de Boer.

    Eventually, Brazil won the match on penalties. Ronaldo scored his, but Kluivert neglected to take one.

7. Netherlands Turn Things Around Against Brazil in 2010

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    Schalk van Zuydam

    In the quarter final of the World Cup in 2010, the Netherlands played a hungry and motivated Brazil. 

    Things weren't looking good for the Dutch during the half-time break. In the first half, Robinho had scored 1-0 by converting a clever through ball from Felipe Melo. What's more, the Brazilians generally seemed much more likely to make things happen that evening in South Africa.

    But after half-time, the Dutch midfield general Wesley Sneijder scored not once, but twice, knocking Brazil clean out of the cup.

6. Beating Brazil in 1974

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    Things went wrong in the final, but many people see Holland's performance against Brazil in the second round of the World Cup in 1978 as the epitome of "Total Football."

    The Dutch scored twice against the Brazilians, who had won the tournament four years before. By taking the lead against the former champions, Holland showed the world that Total Football had arrived.

    Near the end of the match, things almost escalated on the pitch, with the Brazilians launching some nasty tackles. But the Dutch saw things through and won the match 2-0. 



5. 2nd Place in 1978

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    Associated Press

    The Netherlands enthralled the world with their "Total Football" in 1974. In the end, they came in second, after losing in the final against West Germany. In 1978, however, they gave it another go—albeit this time without coach Rinus Michels and star player Johan Cruyff

    For a second time in a row, the Dutch reached the final. And for a second time in a row, they lost, this time against Argentina. 

    More than 30 years later, people still wonder: What would have happened if Cruyff had been there?

4. 2nd Place in 2010

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    Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

    Much has been said about Holland's tactics and style of play during the World Cup in 2010. Regardless of how they did it, though, it's certainly applaudable Holland managed to reach the final of the World Cup for the first time since 1978. 

    In the end, the Dutch lost the final against Spain after a goal from Iniesta in extra time.

    Perhaps the Spaniards were simply destined to win it. Nonetheless, the Netherlands were almost there. If only Casillas hadn't saved Robben's attempt to slot the ball past him in the 62nd minute...

3. Celebrating Being 2nd

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    Regardless of their legendary status, Holland's 1974 "Total Football" team never did win the World Cup. They lost the final against West Germany. 

    According to some, Holland's loss in that final sealed their faith as eternal number two

    When the Netherlands lost in the final to Spain in 2010, the Dutch didn't seem to mind quite as much as you'd expect. As a matter of fact, they celebrated like crazy...

2. Dennis Bergkamp Wonder Goal in 1998

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    To be a legendary forward, you need to score legendary goals. And that's exactly what Dennis Bergkamp did in the Netherlands' quarter-final match against Argentina in 1998.

    After a pinpoint long ball from defender Frank de Boer, Dennis Bergkamp's unearthly technique, vision and audacity saw Holland through to the semi-final of the tournament. It was the winning goal in an exhilarating match.

    Words barely do this goal justice. "The moment itself was, I think, perfect," Bergkamp would later tell ITV4 in an interview

    Unsurprisingly, Bergkamp's goal is remembered by many as one of the greatest World Cup goals of all time. 

1. Total Football in 1974

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    Football has given birth to a few legendary teams but there might never be a team like Holland in 1974. As inventors of "Total Football," this team is generally regarded as being one of the best teams of all time. 

    "Total Football"—developed by coach Rinus Michels and captain Johan Cruyff—was an attacking philosophy based on possession and the exploitation of space. It has influenced coaches around the world—from Louis van Gaal to Pep Guardiola. 

    To some, it's a style of football. To others, it's art. 

    Tragically, Michels' men eventually lost the 1974 final against West Germany, but they have retained legendary status to this day.