Sunday, 20 June 2004

Fool’s Overture

Last Tuesday I received an SMS from a German friend, when Germany scored 0-1 against Holland. It said: “Ohne Holland gehen wir ins Finale”, as in “Without Holland we go to the finals.” Although that was a bit too optimistic, as we played 1-1, it set the tone for the EC. My German colleagues teased me a lot last year that we didn’t qualify for the WC in Korea/Japan and were wondering if Dutch could play football at all. Now is the latter not really a question as Dutch players are celebrated all over the world for their qualities and every major club has at least one Dutch player. Though, when we have to perform as a team on European or World level, we simply do not seem to be able to reach that high level of playing. 1974 and 1988 were our peaks and since, not much has happened. In my opinion we have a great team now, with good defenders, good mid-fielders and a superb attack. We have some of the best attackers in the world and still we are struggling to score.
Yesterday’s match was a show without any precedence; it had all a real football-fan looks for: horror, goals, tricks, rushes, superb saves and a winner. When Van Nistelrooij scored the 2-0, I though one moment about sending my German friend an SMS, especially after German’s hilarious draw against Latvia. However, I learned not to cheer before the last whistle, so I refrained from sending it and by God was I happy that I didn’t. How can such a superb team as ours, fail to keep a 2 point advantage to the Czechs. No bad word about them though, they played great as well, but are not expected to be as good as the Dutch.
An idiotic pass from Cocu (who is now definitely too old for the next EC and WC!), led to the 2-1; a very strange substitution for Robben (who is from my hometown…), who played superb and was man of the match; and the red card for Heitinga did the job. I have to admit that the referee was also not really in our favour, but ok, you can’t win them all. We should have won there…
Holland is a country that lives for its national team and the matches it plays. In no other country you can see people getting as crazy as here. People painting their houses orange, whole streets with orange-flags, orange beer, orange everything. Companies use this nationalism very well by giving gadgets with their products: orange hats, orange Heineken caps and speakers, T-shirts and many, many more. It’s a hilarious sight, but beautiful as well and there is no better atmosphere than with the matches the Dutch play. A stadium filled with the Orange Legion: it is really a great sight and only the Brazilians can compete with that.
Getting back to the EC now: we are 3rd and are completely dependent on the Czechs as we have to win from Latvia and Germany must loose. We hope that the Czechs will do their sportive obligation to play a decent match against the Germans, but we expect the worst. Nedved already said that he will not play, so dark clouds are packing above the Dutch. I fear we won’t make it to the quarter finals and that we can go home again next week.
Going home will have some advantages though: Advocaat will be fired, as I don’t think we ever had such a bad coach and all orange will be removed from the houses and we can continue our normal life again. What I hope? A final between Greece and Latvia: that would be a stunt… Cruijf, Van Basten, Gullit where are you????????


Christoph said...

Hello Leander,

nice story. Are you talking about me as your friend?? I was a good idea that you don´t send a SMS after the draw. Because you know what happens otherwise!!!!
But we will see this evening !!!!
But "Ohne Holland geht es ins Finale"!!!!!!

best regards


Eisenreich said...

Well, evidently after tonight's matches, Germany is out and NL goes on. Seems like the ones laughing first, don't laugh last! :)


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