Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Elixir of Life

Well what was all the fuss about? Group C, the group of death, was undercut by a resurgent Holland team desperate to dispel the label of "perennial underachievers." And how.
For the past couple of years, Coach Marco van Basten has been criticized for failing to bring more experienced players into the squad. The voices have gone quiet as young guns such as Robin van Persie and Wesley Sneijder dominate whilst vets such as Clarence Seedorf and Roy Makaay were left out of the fold.
Far from the maligns of 2006, the Oranje destroyed Italy to the sweet tune of 3-0, playing a graceful counter-attacking game, outclassing their cheap Italian counterparts. Several days later, the boys came back for an encore, thumping the other half of the last World Cup Final, France, 4-1 as Sneijder notched his second goal of the tournament. The Oranje proved that the best defense is a strong offense, as Arjen Robben slammed home from a ridiculously acute angle a mere 90 seconds after former Gunner Thierry Henry converted past Edwin van der Sar.
In two games versus the World Cup finalists, the Dutch had established a goal difference of +6, so French and Italian coaches, Raymond Dommennech and Roberto Donadoni pleaded with van Basten to leave Romania flailing like their respective teams.
And he delivered, despite fielding a second-string lineup. Get this, the Dutch reserves comfortably beat Romania, a team that held both Italy and France. That is the magnitude of what Holland are capable of. 23 world class players staring you down in the tunnel must send shivers down any opposition's back. Very few teams in the world, let alone this tournament can rival that strength.
Prior to the opening game, many Dutch fans didn't give their team a chance, but my voice of reason as rung true as the Oranje progress to the quarter-finals, where they will face an unpredicatable Russian team on Saturday.
As John Motson so eloquently put it, thank the "Oranje BOOM!" Well, that plus 120,000 orange-clad fans.

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