The world watches as the Dutch take control of their matches in the World Cup. The Dutch People are those of Holland and Belgium, though Belgians prefer to refer to themselves as Flemish. Both nations have won first place in their group rounds, and have continued on into the Quarterfinals. It is only a matter of time before they meet in Semifinals, where there can only be one… Dutch nation advancing. Either way the Dutch have been dominating the FIFA World Cup thus far.
Holland has proved since game one, they are going for gold. Their very first game of the cup of life was mostly a grudge match, Spain had beaten them four years prior so they were out for blood. However, it should be mentioned that Spain did not help their own cause. Diego Costa was chosen to be their main striker on the front end. There were two problems with that choice. The first was that Costa is a Brazilian National, and the host nation saw his choice to defect to the Spanish team as a traitorous act. So, he had to fight the negative pressure from the Brazilian crowd while also facing off against taut defense. The second problem was simply that he did not jibe with the Spanish style of play, tiki-taka. Spain also vastly underestimated one of their best scoring assets David Villa, who along with Xavi and Iniesta, made the bulk of their World Cup winning highlight reel in 2010. The problem that Holland exploited for the win, however, was conditioning. Holland was playing nice for most of the first half waiting for the opportune moment to start dropping bombs, until they realized before the end of the first half that it was not necessary. Right before the 44th minute Robin van Persie scored what would later be dubbed the flying Dutchman. The pass came from almost midfield, van Persie had beaten Gerard Piqué on the run, then dove head first knocking the ball into the top right corner. This crushed the Spanish vigor, and ultimately sealed the game. The second half was orange clockwork as Clockwork Orange scored in rapid fire, until the clock struck an hour and a half, and the scored showed 5-1.
After the mighty Spain had fallen, the Socceroos put up a valiant fight. After Arjen Robben took it upon himself to take the ball right up the center leaving it in the back of the net in the 28th second of the 19th minute. Seventy seconds later Australia’s Tim Cahill responded with an awe-inspiring volley off of the top cross-bar, that was simply unblockable. Australia then took the lead in the second half after a questionable yellow card was given to Holland, providing the men in yellow a penalty kick. The call was questionable because it was a ball-to-hand offense, not hand-to-ball. Many referees would have awarded a free kick as opposed to a penalty, if anything. A penalty seemed a bit harsh a call, any good footballer could hit an opponent’s hand in the box with little effort. The lead was short-lived as Memphis Depay deliverd a gift wrapped ball to Van Persie’s foot four minutes later, tying the game up. Then ten minutes later the 20-year-old got his first goal due to an assist from Sneijder, to take the lead and ultimately win the game for Holland. The Socceroos gave Holland the biggest scare in the group round, as not only were they the closest in points, but two minutes before Depay scored, Mathew Leckie almost broke Dutch hearts around the world.
The last match of the group round was merely an exhibition for both Holland and Chile as they had both already made the sweet 16. The Netherlands started as they frequently do; they let the Chilean team tire themselves out until the last minute. After a round of substitutions their counter attack began, subbing in Leroy Fer last. This was pivotal, as two minutes later Leroy Fer scored a wide open header giving him his first and only goal in an International match. This game was dominated by Dutch youngsters, because Memphis scored one second after the 91st minute.
Belgium had a similar dominating group experience, as they breezed through all three matches. Though admittedly not winning as flamboyantly as Holland, every game they played was won by a modest one goa marginl. Their first game against Algeria had them trailing by one all game because of an early penalty at the 24th minute. Jan Vertonghen was awarded a yellow card within the 18th minute for pulling Sofiane Feghouli’s arm on a run. The Algerian team trailed all three of the Belgian subs who were on the field, and proceeded to win the game for the Red Devils. The last sub, Marouane Fellaini, was on the field for only five short minutes before performing a backwards header placing the ball right under the top cross-bar on the right side, tying the game in the last seconds of the 69th minute. Ten minutes later the first substitute Dries Mertens scored the game winning goal after a masterful play by Eden Hazard. In the hard-fought game against Belgium’s most frequent opponent Russia, it was again Hazard that choreographed the game winning play. He drove the ball all the way to the back line, parallel to the goalie, before passing it back to Divock Origi, whose one-touch knocked the ball right in. South Korea should have been a huge win for Belgium, but due to a red card for Steven Defour, the game was much closer than expected. Though playing a man down, Vertonghen was able to secure the win after Origi’s attempt was blocked.
Both Dutch teams continued to dominate the FIFA World Cup knockout rounds, the teams each beat their opponents with two back to back last-minute goals. The first game was Holland and Mexico, and Mexico dominated the first half as well as the first part of the second, until they scored. However, 48 minutes into the match, Giovanni Dos Santos took on three Dutch Defenders before scoring. This woke up arguably the team’s best player Wesley Sneijder. Sneijder is the best midfielder left in the cup. His passes are seamless and effortless, quickly reaching their target with no fuss, many of his assists are unseen as he only has the ball for seconds before passing it along to the next player. The presence of Van Persie and Robben make many forget that he earned most of Holland’s man of the match awards in the 2010 World Cup. After Sneijder dominated the second half with both magnificent passes and shots he was finally fed up by the 88th minute. The reason Sneijder was often seen walking on the field is because he embodies Clockwork Orange’s rope-a-dope mentality, and Mexico fell for it. The tenth corner that Holland was awarded was knocked out of the 18 and Sneijder seized the opportunity. He caught the ball off the volley, launching an unstoppable bullet straight into the back of the net, which devastated Mexico. Then in the last minutes of play, Mexico committed a foul on Arjen Robben, allowing Klaas Jan Huntelaar the opportunity to end the game with a penalty kick.
Belgium played a hard game against the U.S. taking a totally different approach, no rope-a-dope for them, as they attempted to win fast and early. Tim Howard thwarted the plan by saying “not in my house.” The Red Devils shot 38 times, 27 were on target and Tim Howard stopped 18. Excluding the 92nd minute of stoppage time, where the U.S. almost ended the game before overtime, the U.S. had few dangerous attacks in the first 105 minutes. Howard saved the game for the U.S. until 5:00pm Central Standard time, when a pass across the 18 allowed Kevin De Bruyne to capitalize. Then after 105 minutes of play, De Bruyne gave Romelu Lukaku a beautiful assist right before he passed the defenders leaving him one-on-one with Howard, unfortunately Howard was not able to keep the U.S. in the fight. It was not until after they were down by two in the second half of overtime that the American team really started to shine. Apparently they refused to go out with a goose egg, because after 106 minutes of play, Michael Bradley placed a beautiful pass right into the reach of the 19-year-old Julian Green, who hit the ball off of a hip high volley despite heavy pressure. This helped reinvigorate the Americans. They almost scored the equalizer after Bradley’s free kick got into the clutches of Clint Dempsey, who almost sent the game into penalty kicks in heartbreaking minute 114.
Both teams are set to play on Saturday the 5th of July. The teams they are to face off against will not bow down without a fight, but statistically speaking, they are doomed to fail. Costa Rica has been a long shot from the get go, despite playing extraordinarily well. Argentina will need more than Messi to beat the quick, agile and young Belgian team, though Cortana would disagree. Germany will probably beat the Brazilian crew of floppers. So, after the Dutch dominate one side of the bracket, they will probably face off against the Deutsche, for a chance to touch FIFA’s World Cup.
Commentary by Eddie Mejia