Unfancied Dutch earn mantle of World Cup runners-up, but at what cost?

Spain were crowned World Cup winners on Sunday night and deservedly so, as their squad of newly found heroes performed in a manner that was a credit to their country.

They approached the game in a positive way that would have made the creators of the beautiful game proud and their legacy of attractive and stylish football will live long in the memory of fans all over the world.

Every hero needs a villain though and Netherlands competently filled the role of the baddie and in doing so cast aside their reputation as exponents of total football.

The shexy football of the Dutch is officially dead.

Gone is Johan Cruyff’s philosophy that “football is a game you play with your brain” and has been replaced with the view that football is a game played with whatever part of your body you can throw at the opposition.

It could be a kung-fu kick to the opponent’s chest, a cynical trip or even just a plain and simple charge into the opponent, irrelevant of where the ball is.

The red mist descended on the Dutch for the final, as they seemingly resigned themselves to the fact that they only way to beat the free-flowing football of Spain was to beat them.

Far from just being a commendably organized defensive wall that set out to stifle the opposition, Netherlands were an angry machine intent on pummeling Spain into submission.

To see the Dutch reduce themselves to such crass tactics is a disgrace that taints all of the wonderful football that has gone before it in the name of the oranje.

There was no art to Sunday night’s proceedings, only the inevitability of death that comes with the spectacle of a Spanish bullfight, but this time the bull survived and the sword was thrust through the heart of Dutch football instead.

Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk saw the game differently though, but as well he might as it appears he left his readers back at the team hotel.

“It was still our intention to play beautiful football, but we were facing a very good opponent.

“We did a good job tactically on them. We got into good positions at times. It’s not our style, but you play a match to win.”

Despite van Marwijk’s attempts to put a positive spin on his side’s bully-boy tactics, his words couldn’t disguise the imprint of Nigel de Jong’s size ten on Xabi Alonso’s chest that smothers their longstanding image as purveyors of total football.

Their legacy is dead thanks to their World Cup performance and as Benjamin Franklin once boomed “it takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it”.

Tags: Netherlands, World Cup 2010

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