Holland has a record, they are the team that has gone to the final the most times without ever winning the FIFA World Cup. However Clockwork Orange had a very good chance this year. They had the star players that went to the finals in 2010, plus a crew of young stars. Despite the referees best efforts, and a foolish substitution by the coach in the semifinals, Holland managed to secure third place in this FIFA World Cup.
The first time Holland went to the finals was in 1974, where they faced off against West Germany. It was a first half game, the Dutch scored off of a penalty after a minute of play, then after 25 minutes the Germans scored off of a penalty kick of their own. The winning goal came after the 43rd minute when Gerd Müller scored his goal for the West German team.
Four years later they faced off against Argentina. There was so much controversy against the host of the FIFA World Cup that year that it seemed ridiculous. First, Argentina was not even supposed to go to the final. They literally bribed Peru with money and free grains. After that the Argentinians bullied their way into having referees switched for the final game who served more as the 12th Argentinian player than as an impartial judge of the game. The Argentinian authorities also went so far as to send the Dutch coach into a neighborhood where his car was attacked, and he was forced to listen to fans shout “Argentina Argentina” repeatedly for 20 minutes. Still the Dutch almost won with a shot that hit the post during the final stoppage time before overtime. Argentina scored two to win in overtime.
In 2010 Naranje held their own with the Spanish super power for the final until succumbing to a shot by Iniesta at the 116th minute. The Spanish team was positively stacked that year with arguably the best goalie at the time, Casillas, and a monstrous defensive line that included Gerard Pique, Carles Puyol, and Sergio Ramos. The team also included an incredible group of midfield players, that started arguably the greatest midfield duo to ever play the game, Xavi and Iniesta. With Pedro and David Villa on the attack, the Red Fury were just too much for Holland that year.
Much like the game against Argentina in 1978, the semi-final in this FIFA World Cup was filled with very questionable calls, if not blatantly unfair ones. Thirty-five minutes into the game Martín Demichelis kicked the Netherlands’ unsung hero, Wesley Sneijder, dead in the calf without even getting anywhere near the ball. The hit was so violent, any referee without an obvious bias would have awarded a yellow card without any hesitation, possibly even a red. This Turkish referee did not even award a foul. The hit was so hard that Sneijder was injured, and was frequently seen limping on the field. It was eventually so bad he had to walk off the field for treatment. In fact he sat out of the next game with Brazil due to the damage done to his calf. What makes the lack of a foul called even more infuriating, is that 10 minutes later Bruno Martins Indi was carded for the most gentle of fouls. Martins Indi was attempting to block Lionel Messi and stuck his arm out for a second, Messi blew past him, then three steps and five seconds later, when he realized he was trapped, Messi threw his hands up in disgust, obviously only trying to get the foul call after he was blocked in. The interesting part is that Messi continued to get fouls called on Dutch players, even on one instance where he was clearly seen grabbing a Dutch player’s shorts. It seemed that no matter what the Dutch player was at fault in any situation.
Three minutes into the second half, Demichelis has another blatant foul, this time so obvious the ref would be risking his job not to call it. It should have been a red card for Martín Demichelis because that is what would have been a fair second yellow card. At the very minimum, after not awarding a yellow for the vicious foul against Sneijder, Arjen Robben should have been awarded a penalty kick, as he would have had a one on one opportunity against the goalie, had Demichelis not yanked him to the ground by the arm. Some would argue that one never awards a penalty outside of the 18. That is not true, soccer has laws not rules, the difference being that the guidelines are to be interpreted and implemented by the referee so as to create the most just circumstances within the game. A penalty was the only fair ruling, if not a red card.
The game was close until overtime, though the Netherlands played an all around better game. There was another questionable yellow, this time awarded against Klaas Van Huntelaar who was trailing Mascherano. He dove and tried to slide tackle Mascherano, who was barely touched by the side of Huntelaar’s leg, but saw an opportunity to take a dive for a free kick. Not only was the free kick awarded but Huntelaar was booked. Though it should be mentioned Huntelaar should never have been put in the game at all. He had no place in the game. The Dutch Coach switched him in for the captain Robin Van Persie. Van Persie, is a great poacher, that is how he holds the record for most points by a Dutch player. He is a good finisher but not very good at creating plays. That said he runs much less than the other striker Robben. So there was no reason he should have been switched out; he was not even tired. The Dutch coach got greedy plain and simple; he wanted to score in overtime.
Despite Holland’s best efforts, the coach took the chance to win the FIFA World Cup away from the players, who had to settle for third. What he should have done is exactly the same thing he did against Costa Rica; wait for the last minute and switch in their penalty specialist Tim Krul. Krul literally won the game for Holland in the quarter finals, he dove the right way for every shot and blocked two of them. Had Krul been utilized for the penalty kick there is a very good chance that Holland would have won.
The third place game against Brazil was basically a friendly as far as Holland was concerned. The Dutch played every player who did not get a chance to play before. Less than five minutes into the game Thiago Silva was awarded a yellow card for pulling Robben down just as Martín Demichelis did, except this time Robben was awarded a meriting penalty. Van Persie took it and scored in the third minute of the game. Robben was booked for grabbing Silva’s shorts at the ninth minute, though if one watched the replay closely, the reason Robben grabbed his shorts was because he was clearly being pushed down to the ground by David Luiz, who had ahold of Robben’s shoulder after Robben had stumbled. Then 17 minutes in, 24 year old Daley Blind scored his first international goal, when the Brazilian team left him wide open allowing him to get two touches on a volley before shooting it right in. After many more anti-Dutch calls, Georginio Wijnaldum scored his second international goal due to a beautiful play started by Robben in the 91st minute. Robben passed it to Daryl Janmaat whose assist allowed Wijnaldum to score the third goal. Despite the referees’ best efforts and the coach’s mistake, Holland could not be stopped from taking third place in this year’s FIFA World Cup.
Opinion By Eddie Mejia