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SumonK Chakrabarti
Thursday , June 10, 2010 at 10 : 10

The clockwork orange, once more


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Yes, I wear the Albicelestes (Light Blue and White) on my sleeves, but I have never hidden my secret desire to see the World Cup being lifted either by the Oranje or the La Furia Roja (in that order). Because only they play the 'beautiful' game in Europe. Can fancy pants tippy-tappy their way past the Chocker tag?

To do that, the Clockwork Orange needs to turn the clock back - back to the 1970s, when they bamboozled the opponents with total football and precision passing. And they need Johan Cruyff's worthy successor, the new Flying Dutchman - Arjen Robben to get well soon. Robben hopes that intense physiotherapy can heal his minor muscle tear on the left thigh in a week's time.

Because Holland has always charmed and mesmerised to deceive. Spectacular but mentally fragile, in their eight World Cup appearances, the Oranje have reached the showpiece match twice, falling narrowly short in both 1974 and 1978.

In 1974, they had Johan Cruyff, Johnny Rep and Johan Neeskens, West Germany was down a goal in the first minute of the final but as Rep later recounted: "We wanted to humiliate them. We started knocking it around - and forgot to score a second goal."

Anti-German feelings dating back to the World War had got the better of the Dutch.

But coach Van Marwijk knows he has a team in full flight this time. A team of achievers, who played the 4-2-3-1 formation favoured by previous coach Marco Van Basten and was had a flawless qualification undefeated qualifying campaign.

Legends like goalkeeper Edwin van der Saar and striker Ruud van Nistelrooy have retired, but Robben, Rafael van der Vaart, Robin van Persie, Nigel De Jong and Wesley Sneijder are in form and looking dangerous.

Thank god they got Robben and Sneijder out of Real Madrid last season. And they glittered Bayern Munich and Inter Milan respectively to glory.

But can they do it without Robben?

The Strategy Session:

So, let's play the devil's advocate here and assume Robben's injury does not heal. In that case, the Oranje hopes will lies solely on two diminutive men: Nigel De Jong and Sneijder. While De Jong can snatch and press, Sneijder can weave his magic from 30 feet of the goal post. Van Persie's form, though, still remains in doubt, after his injury ridden season. But they need to sort out Van de Sar's successor soon: the void in goal hasn't exactly been filled by Stekelnburg.

And the Dutch cannot afford to concede a goal early in the game: their mental ability to fight back remains a doubt. But there's no doubt about their flair.

My Trumpcard:

Coach Bert Van Marwijk. He does not suffer fools gladly, and players have to stick to his rules, rules which favour form and fitness over reputation.

Dirk Kuyt. The never tiring striker has all the potential to become the new Ruud van Nistelrooy.

And Ibrahim Afellay can dazzle in the right-wing.

My discards:

Khalid Boulahrouz, Ryan Babel and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.

In 1651, Dutchman Jan van Riebeeck was the first European to land in South Africa, where Afrikaans, the Dutch-influenced language, is still spoken. Now, three centuries later, the Dutch are hoping to conquer the continent again. Dream on and the red lights of Amsterdam might turn orange on July 11.

My Picks from Group E: Holland and Cameroon to the Round of 16.


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