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How Deep Is The Dutch Promise?

It's not the first time in soccer history that the world has been seduced by a wonderful Dutch team. Monday's 3-0 victory over Italy has prompted many to recall the Dutch team featuring its current coach, Marco van Basten, and LA coach Ruud Gullit, that won the European Nations' Cup 20 years ago. Or, on the other hand, the team that narrowly missed out on the World Cup in 1974, 1978, and again in 1998.
"Which admirer of Dutch football, even after this week's beautiful - and vital - performance against the world champions Italy in Berne, does not have at least half a sense that he has been drawn into yet another Oranje mirage?" asks James Lawton. "It is always the risk with the nation that gave us the 'total football' of Rinus Michels and the sublime [Johan] Cruyff, and with each generation produces fresh players of both wonderful facility and the grittiest character. The trouble is they do not, of course, guarantee that such qualities always come in the same package."
Lawton cites the failed Dutch attempt to humiliate the Germans in the 1974 World Cup final, the fractious team camps of numerous tournaments past ("the Dutch...could wake up one morning and stage a rebellion over the decor in the team hotel" goes the saying), and the lack of a game-winning performance from star striker Dennis Bergkamp in the 1998 World Cup semifinal against Brazil as examples of the nation's inability to follow through on its immense promise. The pressure on van Basten to deliver on that promise "is somebody else's daydream, and if it goes wrong he can expect little sympathy."

Read the whole story at Independent »

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