Blood, Sweat, and Tears: The Dutch Celebrate Their Second-Place Finish
In the video, thousands of fans at the Museumplein wave and dance joyfully in appreciation of their World Cup team. The occasion was titled "Bloed, Zweet, en Tranen." Quite aptly, one would think.
It does not require too active an imagination for one to see how these tags fit into the Dutch's World Cup narrative.
Surely it is an apt description of the final match. No?
The Kungfu by Nigel De Jong, the tackles flying thick and fast, the yellow cards, even a red, the divings, Webbs inexplicable shortsightedness as the game wound down, the heartbreaking last minute goal concession: What better word captures this than blood?
It took the Dutch 32 years to once again get to the final of a World Cup.
After their second heartbreak in 1978, they did not even qualify for the next edition in Spain nor did they for the next one in Mexico in 1986.
At Italia '90, they crashed out of the tournament at the second round, having qualified out of the group stage as one of the third best finishers, same as Argentina, Colombia, and Uruguay. They lost to Germany by a goal to two.
The kings of Total Football bounced back however in the next two editions (1994 and 1998), only to be knocked out both times by Brazil, losing 2:3 in the quarterfinal in the former edition and on penalties in the latter edition in the semifinal, after a one all tie at full and extra time.
In both of these matches, the two teams played some of the best football ever.
In 2002, the Netherlands would fail to qualify for the World Cup finals again, having been bested by Portugal and Ireland in their European qualification group. Then in 2006, they were knocked out of the second round of the finals in Germany by Portugal, who beat them by a lone goal.
Indeed, it has been sweat, a lot of sweat since 1978.
What joy it must have been for the Dutch then to finally reach the highest peak of the finals after many bumps and hitches, and having to do this by climbing over Brazil.
One can understand the "Tears" then.
The Dutch were determined to win the World Cup this time, with a number of their players saying they were willing to play ugly to win . I am sure that most people didn't understand the literal implication of this declaration until the final match itself was in progress.
But no matter the amount of blood they were prepared to shed as it were, they could not prevent the tears. Neither their pragmatism nor their aggressive approach to the final match could break the jinx. Fate would deal them the same hand. They would finish as second best yet again.
But all tears were suspended, wiped off as the whole country, represented by those who made it to the Museumplein, gathered to celebrate their team's journey in the 2010 World Cup. It is quite a sight to see even viewing it via video. One can only imagine what the atmosphere at the live event must have been.
Blood, Sweat, and Tears, no, Cheers!
It is only fitting that the journey and the narrative should end on a positive note. While the Dutch may surely rue their inability to win the ultimate prize, there's still so much to appreciate in their journey at South Africa.
And they may not have played Total Football (though I suspect we may yet see it in the future), and they may have forgotten themselves in the final, but overall they did give their fans and the rest of world something to cheer for, something to admire.
Their joy and celebration recovers what such sporting events as the World Cup are all about: the brotherhood (and, of course, sisterhood) of humankind, the coming together of a nation as one, where differences are defeated even if only for a little while.
Gefeliciteerd met je overwinning Nederland!
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