Friday, July 09, 2010

Dutch Fab Four will edge out Espana

Van Bommel is a tough, Machiavellian figure with an ability to escape yellow cards until being booked for dissent in injury-time on Tuesday has arguably been the phenomenon of the tournament.

Then there is Dirk Kuyt, the world's most pragmatic winger. Robin van Persie said before the tournament that "the real party" came when he, Rafael van der Vaart, Wesley Sneijder and Robben, the so-called "Fab Four" were together, but Kuyt's running is vital to link the back six to the front three.

SHOOT: Sunday's game will be a kicker. Nederland will win because they have to...Spain probably used all their magic against Germany. Besides, Nederland can be said to have homeground advantage
Mark van Bommel
Midfielder Mark van Bommel's task is to protect the Dutch back line by any means necessary.

There has also, though, been a tactical tweak, the reasons for which became obvious in that final 25 minutes against Uruguay in the semifinal; the Dutch found their flair again, began passing the ball at pace, swept forward, and looking terrifyingly vulnerable at the back. A game that seemed over at 3-1 with 20 minutes remaining suddenly became in the final minutes an edgy siege. Credit, then, to Van Marwijk for recognizing the weakness of his back four and protecting it: you can score three and still not win; concede none and you'll never lose.

So the back four defend and little else, and so too do the two holding midfielders. Both Mark van Bommel and Nigel De Jong, who will surely return for the final after suspension, have had excellent tournaments, but aside from the raking pass from De Jong that set up Robben's goal against Slovakia, neither has done much in the attacking sphere.

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