First of all in World Cup football there's no such thing as a "prohibitive favorite" or a "sure thing."
Pundits and fans are the ones responsible for creating a world where everything is certain and the team who should win the game always does. So when the people in the media pretend to be shocked when Holland won the game last night, even as a Brazilian, I knew that this Dutch side was entirely capable of beating an overrated Brazilian squad.
In 80 years of World Cup history, even with that 12 year break during the war there is a very simple formula to having a successful side. A strong attack, with many options from both the forwards and the strikers.
1. A creative midfielder who is able to do all of the little things a team needs to do to succeed. A distributor, an attacking instigator, and someone who has that ability to be a pest on the back end of the other team's offense.
2. A sparkling, creative, relentless winger or outside fullback who is able to draw so much that every time that player is ready to cross the ball into the box or to make a move into it, there's a little panic in the eyes of the opposing keeper and every person watching that game can barely draw a breathe.
3. A classic center-forward who is always ready to make that perfectly timed run in either counterattack or into the box in the attacking third to create chaos and capitalize on the play of that creative midfielder or that relentless winger.
4. A very solid, technically proficient, calm, and above all unrecognizable defense. A defense that is completely anonymous is the best kind of defense. The best examples come from American Football, The Steel Curtain, The Purple People Eaters. No-Name Defense and the Doomsday Defense. All very good defenses known for their collective impregnability rather than individual genius.
5. Finally a good goalie, not a great goalie, but not a horrible goalie. Somebody who will be there when he's needed and to make the right decision every single time. Sometimes it's better to be deliberate than a superstar. Balance is key in this situation, too much of a single attribute can be a bad thing. Paralysis through analysis is a bad thing for a keeper to suffer from.
This Dutch team has all of these attributes and sometimes more than one player that can fulfill the requirements listed above. This is what makes the Orangemen so scary. They're so good in attack that a player as good as Rafael Van der Vaart is coming off the bench and Huntelaar is used as as a spark plug.
There are many good players remaining in this World Cup but these four rotating in a carousel attack is literally physically frightening. Sneijder, Kuyt, Robben, and van Persie. Just listing those names and all of that pure talent makes me amazed.
All of them in a classical Dutch scheme play all four of the attacking positions and create pure havoc in the opposing defense. I've watched all five games that they've played and I can say that Holland has the best and most balanced offense in the entire tournament.
As for the other two attributes, Stekelenburg and the defense even Ooijer in a pinch have only allowed two goals so far this entire tournament and one of them was off a penalty kick.
Argentina is very talented with their three strikers like a Cerberus on attack and Germany and Spain can never be counted out at this stage of a such a large tournament.
But come July 11th in Johannesburg's Soccer City stadium, that cup will be lifted by the men wearing orange.
Because they have proved to be very good at every facet of the game and because "The Four Horsemen" is too much for any team to handle.
Holland in the 2010 World Cup will prove that age old adage "the best defense is a good offense."
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