HI had a dream last night. No, no, it wasn't of the Martin Luther kind, It had orange streamers flowing down from the rafters of Soccer City. A chorus of dutch fans chanting the names of the Holland team, Robin Van Persie and Arjen Robben crying in the middle of the pitch, the Jules Rimet Trophy gleaming and glinting in the hands of Gio Van Bronckhorst. It was a dream which ended with Holland winning the World Cup 2010.
Of course, I woke up and realised it was just a dream. Holland have never won the World Cup and hold that horrible tag line as the most promising team to have never won the grandest prize of them all.
In England, we like to portray ourselves of the golden generation who have been scorned unfairly of the chance on winning the World Cup for a second time. We are professional martyrs. The team constantly out to prove ourselves. None of that compares to the failure and feeling of destiny that is entrenched in the Dutch sporting psyche. Portugal were the glamour team of the late nineties and noughties. A classic team full of flair and attacking prowess, suitably backed up by a back line worthy of any championship winning side, Portugal seemed to have it all, except a trophy in the cabinet. The national pride of Portugal may have been dented by this, but their hurt pales in comparison to the Dutch.
For nearly three centuries, the Dutch have produced a conveyor belt of brilliant sides. From the genius of Cruyff, total football and the 1974 World Cup runners up, to the glorious attacking spirit of Gullit, Van Basten and Rijkaard to the nineties and the Ajax based school of football which included Seedorf, Davids, Bergkamp and Kluivert. Holland have been there, in and around the World Cup winning picture, but never lifted it.
Of course, we cannot bring these players back to their primes and transport them into the South African landscape, so it is at the feet of Holland's latest crop of hopefuls.
When you look at the qualifying campaign, Holland couldn't have looked more impressive. They qualified with 24 points, were the first team to do so and racked up impressive wins against Scotland and Norway whilst not losing a single game. On the surface, Holland have to be seen as one of the favourites.
Coach, Bert Van-Maarwijk has instilled a real air of invincibility, and whilst it has to be said that Holland were given an easier group than others in qualifying, that air is undeniable.
On too many occasions in the past though, Holland have let personal and public arguments get in the way of success on the pitch. Euro 2008 and 2002 World Cup are testament to this, but harmony seems to be there at last, well almost.
Robin Van Persie and Bert Van Maarwijk famously don't get along and Arjen Robben and Ryan Babel have bemoaned a lack of serious opportunity lately. Not only that, but Maarwijk has to contend with some of his players not performing regularly.
Van der Vaart, Sneijder, Babel and Kuyt all perform intermittingly or not at all, and since Huntelaar sought pastures new, first to Real Madrid and then A.C Milan, he has struggled for form. Even the great Van Nistelrooy had to move to Hamburg in order to find a manager willing to play him. It's a problem that Van-Maarwijk has bemoaned time and time again, but to no avail.
The concept of Dutch football is one of total football. Although that premise is no longer completely there, some of the aspects still remain. They are quick with the passing, slight on the long balls. Defensively, set pieces are sometimes confusing but they are shielded well by Van Bommel and De Jong, two players who have blossomed in their international roles.
Holland will need luck, but many teams have to have it in order to win the grandest prize of them all, Holland will need all of their players to perform to the absolute maximum. Mainly though, Holland will need belief, because, too often, Holland have had the talent but not the conviction.
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