A new chapter in the Dutch football history

By sportsnewsarena correspondent
Jul 13, 2021

A new chapter in the Netherlands soccer history books was waiting to be written when the Oranje brigade lined up for the play-off match against former World champions Brazil.

It was a match Louis van Gaal, the Dutch coach said should have been scrapped 10 years ago. Yet, in this match, his team were likely to make history if they won. 

By winning, this would be the first Dutch side to finish a FIFA World Cup match undefeated. Althought the ultimate prize was the top spot, the 62-year old Manchester United-bound coach was keen to finish on a high.

“It was very, very sad and a dream has been broken. It’s not going to come back because it was all about being number one. But there is still something for us to do. We can still write history because the Netherlands lost matches in 1971, 1978 and 2010. Slowly but surely we are realising that we have to go for it.

A Dutch team has never returned home unbeaten and that is now our aim. It’s going to be part of my speech that it will be my last match and I hope that the players want to give me a present in the form of a victory, so that we remain undefeated,” the coach opined.

His prayers were answered as the Netherlands beat Brazil 3-0 to clinch the bronze. It is possible that players from the youthful Netherlands team could play in the next FIFA World Cup except its oldest member Dirk Kuyt who quit international football after the tournament in Brazil. He also wanted to end on a high.

Good feeling

Said Kuyt: “We want to win here, return unbeaten and with a feeling that we have given everything here. We want to leave this tournament with a good feeling. We still won’t be satisties but this is the way we have to look at things as top athletes.Third place will feel a lot better than fourth place,” he concluded.

The resolve by coach and player rang true at the end of 90 or so minutes when the Netherlands secured the consolation of third place at the 2014 FIFA World Cup courtesy of a straightforward 3-0 victory over Brazil at the Estadio Nacional.

Recording a third consecutive clean sheet, Louis van Gaal’s charges therefore depart for home – and in the coach’s case, new employment in club football at Manchester United – having avoided defeat in standard or extra time.

For Luiz Felipe Scolari’s men, though, there was little to celebrate. Perhaps the sharpest of edges to the spine-tingling renditions of the Brazilian anthem was missing, but voices were raised pre-match as A Seleção sought redemption.

Yet hopes of banishing lingering memories of their semi-final dismantling by Germany were dashed within 90 seconds of kick-off in Brasilia. Robin van Persie’s slide-rule pass inside the left channel of the hosts’ defence married with a blisteringly fast Arjen Robben dash in from right.

The winger was then pulled down at pace by returning captain Thiago Silva as he surged dangerously within shooting distance. A penalty was the verdict of the referee, and Van Persie found the top corner with aplomb.

On 17 minutes, it was 2-0. Jonathan de Guzman, a late inclusion in Van Gaal’s line-up following an injury to Wesley Sneijder during the warm-up, collected a Robben pass and drove to the byline.

Once there, he lofted a seemingly harmless cross into the area only for David Luiz to head his attempted clearance straight to Daley Blind, who took one touch to control, another to set and then calmly found the roof of the net.

Incisive work from Robben

Oscar struck a long-range drive into the palms of Jasper Cillessen, De Guzman clipped too high from a central position after being set up by more incisive work from Robben. Georginio Wijnaldum had to position himself perfectly at the back post to glance away a troublesome free-kick that was travelling kindly towards Paulinho.

Yet another devilish Oscar set-piece then somehow eluded his team-mates following a Luiz Gustavo flick-on. Seeking an injection of creativity and invention, Scolari introduced Hernanes and later Hulk to proceedings, but the home nation were met with frustration at almost every turn.

When Oscar did scurry into freedom on the left side with 10 minutes remaining on the clock, the playmaker disappointingly curled high and wide of the far post.

Wijnaldum, in fact, added further gloss to the scoreline for Van Gaal's team in the first minute of stoppage time, firing home low at the near post after being left unmarked in a central position inside the box and found by an accurate delivery from the right flank by substitute Daryl Janmaat.

So the history books will show that the Dutch finished third at the 20th edition of the World Cup, relegating Brazil to fourth spot.

Now the focus here and everywhere around the world shifts to the last remaining outcome to be decided on world football’s greatest stage – with Argentina and Germany competing for the Trophy on Sunday.