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Page last updated at 18:36 GMT, Monday, 5 July 2010 19:36 UK

World Cup 2010: Seedorf on Dutch hopes in South Africa

Bert Van Mawijk

By Clarence Seedorf
Dutch international midfielder and BBC pundit

If the Netherlands are to beat Uruguay in Tuesday's semi-final in Cape Town and reach the World Cup final for the first time since 1978, they need to approach the game in the right way.

In their last match against Brazil, they were playing the tournament favourites and not expected to win, especially after going behind. That was part of the motivation for them.

606: DEBATE

Now they face Uruguay, who will be the underdogs.

The South Americans will not be pushovers. They are without one of their main strikers in Luis Suarez, who is suspended after his controversial goal-line handball against Ghana, but they still have some very dangerous attacking players like Diego Forlan.

The Dutch cannot afford to take their eyes off their opponents for a moment, certainly not relax when Uruguay are on the attack.

But I am not really worried because I think the Netherlands have already proved in South Africa that they approach all their matches in the right manner, no matter who the opposition is.

I think the semi-final will be a lot like the second-round game with Slovakia. The Netherlands knew they were the better team but did not lose their focus and gave nothing away. They will have to do that again against Uruguay.

Bert van Marwijk's side are strong mentally, as they showed when they played Brazil.

They could have been two or three goals down by half-time but came out after the interval convinced they could still win. That is why I think they eventually did and their self-belief was wonderful to see.

In contrast, when Wesley Sneijder scored to put the Netherlands ahead, Brazil got frustrated when they were still in the game and ended up losing Felipe Melo, who was sent off.

The players seem to understand now that individual performances are not important

The Netherlands, even when they were behind, kept their cool and I am very proud of them for that.

The Dutch players know what it takes to win. They are not worried about playing well or looking good anymore. Psychologically, they are in good shape.

I think we have to give credit to Van Marwijk for the progress his side have made because he is the one who has given this team an identity.

He has had confidence in picking the same players in the same positions for a long time. The result is a group of players who know each other very well - they are aware of their own strengths and weaknesses.

So far, Sneijder has been at the centre of most of the good things the Dutch have done going forward but there is a lot more to come from some of their other star players.

Arjen Robben did well at times against Brazil but we know he can still do better. We have not seen a great deal from Robin van Persie either but he is still doing a great job for the team by working hard and opening spaces up for others.

The players seem to understand now that individual performances are not important. It is the team that matters most and that is why they are doing very well in this tournament.

Can they win the World Cup? Of course.

After getting past Brazil, they will be full of confidence that they can beat Uruguay and reach the final, where either Spain or Germany await.

I expect the Netherlands to have a lot more of the ball against Uruguay than they did against the Brazilians so they must use it well.

I believe the Netherlands can go all the way but just getting to the final would be a magnificent achievement

Many of the Dutch goals have come from set-pieces or errors from the opposition, so they need to create more chances in open play.

Of the teams the Netherlands could face in the final if they overcome Uruguay, I was really impressed by Germany in their 4-0 win over Argentina. They broke forward with four or five players every time they got the ball. It was great organisation and clinical offensive play.

They also maintained a strong defensive line and stopped Diego Maradona's side from breaking through.

There were moments in that game when I could see 10 German players in a strip of 25 metres of the pitch. When you defend like that, even someone as talented as Lionel Messi is not able to break you down.

Messi took the responsibility of leading the Argentina attack, especially in the first half, but nobody, not even Maradona when he led Argentina to victory at the 1986 World Cup, can win on his own.

Maradona also had a great defence behind him, which is something Argentina did not have on Saturday.

From the way they played against Argentina, you would say Germany should beat Spain. But the final will be a tough game whoever the Dutch have to face.

I believe the Netherlands can go all the way but just getting there would be a magnificent achievement.

Clarence Seedorf was speaking to BBC Sport's Chris Bevan

Netherlands celebrate beating Brazil

Extended highlights - Netherlands 2-1 Brazil



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see also
Team tracker and Predictor
27 May 10 |  World Cup 2010
Seedorf on the Netherlands
14 Jun 10 |  Football
Can Dutch spring a surprise?
01 Jul 10 |  World Cup 2010


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