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Page last updated at 16:52 GMT, Friday, 9 July 2010 17:52 UK

World Cup 2010: Spain hold no fears for Dutch

Highlights - Uruguay 2-3 Netherlands

By Clarence Seedorf
Former Dutch international midfielder and BBC pundit

The Netherlands will not be frightened of Spain when the two sides meet in Sunday's World Cup final at Soccer City in Johannesburg because they will feel they can beat anybody after seeing off Brazil in the last eight.

The Dutch arrived at this tournament with a clear goal in their head, which was to win the tournament. They have not been focusing too much on playing beautiful football, just about winning games and getting the job done.

I do not think many people - myself included - really expected them to get this far but I am very proud of what they have achieved. To beat the European champions this weekend they must stick to the game plan that has brought them success in South Africa.

What is particularly impressive is how mentally strong the Netherlands have been because the pressure is constant when a team reaches the final stages of a major tournament.


They showed with their disciplined display in the 3-2 semi-final victory over Uruguay that they are coping with the weight of expectation in a very mature way. That is good to see - and coach Bert van Marwijk should get the credit.

His team is not packed full of stars but the players have been together for a few years now. They know each other very well, are well organised, work well together and are full of confidence.

They are unbeaten in 25 matches and have won their last 14, but some people think the Dutch can still improve.

So far they have done what they needed to do in this tournament and have not been challenged to play good football yet. The only time they were in difficulty - against Brazil in the quarter-finals - they came back very strongly in the second half to win 2-1.

Yes, they could have shown more flair in South Africa but then that has not got the Dutch anywhere in the past and is not fundamental to success now.

For me the most important players for the Netherlands are the attacking quartet of Arsenal's Robin van Persie, Inter Milan's Wesley Sneijder, Arjen Robben of Bayern Munich and Liverpool's Dirk Kuyt. That is where their quality lies.

Holding midfielder Mark van Bommel, who also plays for Bayern, has also had an excellent tournament.

I wonder if one of the strengths of the Dutch team is down to the fact that a lot of players who regularly make the starting line-up do not play for a major team in Europe.

Now good fortune seems to be with the Dutch - two of Sneijder's goals against Brazil and Uruguay benefited from deflections - and they need it to continue on Sunday

That means they do not play alongside star players like Sneijder or Robben every week and are therefore used to the less expansive style of play that has served the Netherlands so well.

Sneijder, Robben and Van Persie undoubtedly give the Dutch a cutting edge and it looks like Van Marwijk has given them added responsibility at this tournament.

There is also another factor behind their success here - luck. It is an aspect of football a lot of people underestimate.

The Netherlands were unlucky to lose in the 1974 and 1978 World Cup finals. They also lost on penalties to Brazil in the 1998 semi-finals, when I was in the side.

Now good fortune seems to be with the Dutch - two of Sneijder's goals against Brazil and Uruguay benefited from deflections - and they need it to continue on Sunday. Thousands of fans back home will hope it does.

I am told the reaction in Amsterdam to the semi-final win over Uruguay echoed the jubilant scenes which greeted Ajax's win over AC Milan in the 1995 Champions League final.

That was pretty crazy, with people dancing and singing in the streets and swimming in the canals. It is great to hear the public are so excited again.

I do not know how much crazier it would get if the Dutch can bring the World Cup trophy home but for me it is an incredible feeling just knowing they are playing in the final. Now they just have to go for it.

Spain have bounced back well after losing their first game, showing their mental strength, so it is going to be a very interesting final.

Clarence Seedorf was speaking to Chris Bevan in Cape Town.

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see also
Forlan collects Golden Ball award
11 Jul 10 |  World Cup 2010
Webb to referee World Cup final
09 Jul 10 |  World Cup 2010
Zenden hopeful of Dutch success
09 Jul 10 |  Sunderland
Del Bosque eyes World Cup triumph
10 Jul 10 |  World Cup 2010
Van Marwijk 'so proud' of Dutch
06 Jul 10 |  World Cup 2010
'Psychic' octopus favours Spain
07 Jul 10 |  Europe
Torres puts Hodgson talks on hold
04 Jul 10 |  Liverpool
Is this the end of Spain's World Cup pain?
07 Jul 10 |  World Cup 2010
Spain 'grew up' after Swiss loss - Pique
07 Jul 10 |  World Cup 2010
Clarence Seedorf goes to Robben Island
07 Jul 10 |  World Cup 2010
10 great Dutch World Cup goals
06 Jul 10 |  World Cup 2010
No pain for Spain
09 Jul 10 |  World Cup 2010

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