Dutch football legend hits several nails on the head.
Dutch football legend Johan Cruyff has launched a scathing attack on Netherlands’ display in the World Cup final, deriding it as “anti-football”.
The Dutch received nine yellow cards, and a red card for Johnny Heitinga, as they lost 1-0 to Spain in South Africa.
“Sadly, they played very dirty,” Cruyff told Spanish newspaper El Periodico.
“This ugly, vulgar, hard, hermetic, hardly eye-catching, hardly football style… If with this they got satisfaction, fine, but they lost.”
Cruyff was the symbol of ‘Total Football’, which earned the Dutch successive World Cup final appearances in 1974 and 1978.
Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk appeared to opt for pragmatism over style as he led the Oranje to a third final in South Africa, but the result was the same, as Andres Iniesta scored an extra-time winner for Spain.
Cruyff, along with many others, believed Mark van Bommel and Nigel de Jong were lucky not to be sent off before half-time, Van Bommel for a tackle from behind on Iniesta and De Jong for kicking Xabi Alonso in the chest.
“They should have been down to nine immediately, then they made two [such] ugly and hard tackles that even I felt the damage,” said the 63-year-old Cruyff.
“It hurts me that Holland chose an ugly path to aim for the title.”
“On Thursday they asked me from Holland ‘Can we play like Inter? Can we stop Spain in the same way Mourinho eliminated Barca?’
“I said no, no way at all. I said no, not because I hate this style, I said no because I thought that my country wouldn’t dare to and would never renounce their style. I said no because, without having great players like those of the past, the team has its own style.
“I was wrong. Of course I’m not hanging all 11 of them by the same rope, but almost. They didn’t want the ball.” (BBC Sport)
It’s hard not to agree with the former Dutch legend on this one. The Holland side seemed intent on trying to break down Spain’s dominant possession based football by kicking all and sundry. That is not to say that Spain didn’t also contribute to a very confrontational World Cup Final, but Bert Van Marwijk’s tactics had me bemused and clearly failed to achieve their desired goal.