Holland’s quarterfinal match with Brazil is sure to be one of the most exciting matches of the 2010 World Cup thus far.
While this is a match preview, it is one that focuses entirely upon the Netherlands, but you can read Colm Larkin’s preview for Brazil here.
Now let’s have a look at Clockwork Orange’s squad (after taking a moment to admire the fans).
This is Holland’s ninth appearance in the World Cup Finals. They’ve reached the championship match twice (1974 and 1978), but have never won it all.
South Africa marks the first time the Netherlands have made it to the quarterfinals in over 10 years.
The Netherlands breezed through qualifying with a perfect eight wins in eight matches while outscoring opponents 17-2.
Holland was one of only two teams in South Africa (Argentina being the other) to win all three of its group matches.
That means Clockwork Orange is on an undefeated run throughout the World Cup, which began two years ago.
The quartet of Wesley Sneijder in a slightly withdrawn role behind the attacking trio of Arjen Robben, Dirk Kuyt, and Robin van Persie gives Holland one of the deadliest offenses in all of football.
The Dutch also have a solid defense that has limited opponents to just four goals dating all the way back to the beginning of the qualification process.
Goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg is a relative newcomer to the starting XI who lacks the experience and leadership of the previous number one, Dutch legend Edwin van der Sar, but that’s hardly been a factor.
The Netherlands held opponents to just two goals throughout their entire qualifying campaign, so Stekelenburg's inexperience hasn't been a factor.
The Dutch have only conceded two goals in four matches in South Africa, so something must still be said for the young keeper.
Although he spent much of the of the 2009-10 season sidelined by injury, when fit, van Persie is one of the world’s top strikers.
Sneijder and Robben helped their respective clubs reach this year’s Champions League Final.
Sneijder’s team, Inter Milan, proved to be the victor in that match, but the two of them are on the same side this time around, which doesn’t bode well for their opponents.
The most successful nation in World Cup history holds a record five championships in addition to being the only team to appear in all 18 tournaments.
If there’s one team in this tournament capable of neutralizing the Netherlands, it’s Brazil.
Ironically enough, Holland looks more like the classic Brazilian team than the current one does.
The Dutch play a very beautiful game that displays mastery on all levels: passing, trapping, marking, movement off the ball, and last but not least, finishing. Mistakes from this team are rare.
That is not to say that Dunga’s Brazil are lacking in any way. On the contrary, they’re a very solid squad. But the Brazilians are built around a solid defense and counter-attacks.
It’s a highly effective style that’s won a number of cups in recent years, but it’s not always the “Jogo Bonito” that Brazilians want to see from their national side.
Remember that scene from White Men Can’t Jumpwhere Woody Harrelson tells Wesley Snipes that black men want to look good first and win second? That’s what Brazilian fans want, except they demand both. Winning alone is not enough.
Holland wins with flair.
Of the 18 World Cups, South American and European teams have split them down the middle with nine championships apiece.
South American teams, however, have won the competition on every single continent in which the tournament has been staged, while Europeans have never won the World Cup outside of Europe.
Chile’s two losses to Spain (final group match) and Brazil (Round of 16) were the only defeats South American teams have suffered so far in the 2010 World Cup.
The Netherlands’ quarterfinal match with Brazil kicks off on Friday, July 2nd at 10:00 a.m. EST at Nelson Mandela Bay in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
American viewers can catch the English language telecast on ESPN and ESPN Mobile TV; or a Spanish one on ESPN Deportes and Univision.
You can also tune in online at ESPN3.com and Univision.com.