Press Review Monday 12 July 2010

12th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

There is only one story in today's Dutch papers: it's the saga of the Netherlands 1-0 defeat to Spain in Sunday evening's World Cup final in Johannesburg.

Deep disappointment and disillusionment ooze from the papers along with a sense of a great, historic opportunity missed. Orange is still the dominant colour but as de Volkskrant so aptly puts it, "an orange party with a funereal feel". The hysterical, gung ho tone of recent weeks has faded away, just like the Dutch hopes of finally winning the world championships.

RNW 2010 South Africa World Cup dossier

There are dozens of photos from the match sprinkled through the papers but most of the front-page photos are from after the final whistle, and disappointment leaks from the pages like tears. AD carries a photo of midfielder Wesley Sneijder lying face down on the grass, obviously weeping, while Spanish players dance for joy in the background.

Heroic struggle "They fought like lions," bellows De Telegraaf proudly on its front page and follows it up with "We were so close," on an inside page. The populist broadsheet laments the chances missed by striker Arjen Robben, who failed to flick the ball past goalkeeper Iker Casillas in two one-on-one encounters: "Not cool-headed enough" is the paper's verdict and adds, perhaps a touch unkindly, "Robben will find himself waking up, bathed in cold sweat, after yet another nightmare about those two solid chances".

"Orange weeps - high drama in historic World Cup", headlines AD. An editorial in the paper firmly tells the country to be "proud of its football stars," despite the loss.

"Of course, this is yet another major hangover. But let's be fair: the Orange team did much better than expected. Who would have thought that they could beat favourites Brazil in the quarterfinals? But Bert van Marwijk's squad kept believing in their mission: winning the World Cup."

And, the AD editor-in-chief continues, the squad deserve a warm public welcome in Amsterdam on Tuesday, because "the players have triggered an extraordinary atmosphere in this country, a mood of joy and jubilation which has created a bond between all the communities living here."

The Dutch team's achievement at the World Cup "proves once again that if you have a strong collective sense of purpose, even a small country like the Netherlands can reach great heights. And who wouldn't like to be part of that?”

Yellow cards Other papers sound a more critical note. De Volkskrant writes about the Dutch style of play, which it describes as out of tune with Holland's traditional free-flowing creative play. No more ‘total football’, but a mishmash of "eccentricities, resilience and rough play," culminating in "a nail-biting final, a thriller which exploded after the first half as both teams gave each other more space on the pitch as they grew tired." The paper sadly notes: "The tone was unpleasant, tense and sometimes downright dirty with some fouls that had nothing to do with football".

The Dutch team were shown yellow nine times and red once but de Volkskrant writes, "De Jong's karate kick into the chest of Alonzo should have been a straight red". When it comes to the level of aggression, it's time for some soul-searching, de Volkskrant concludes.

De Telegraaf says fans put some of the blame for the defeat on English referee Howard Webb, who "should have given Spanish defender Puyol a red card for holding on to Robben as the Dutch striker steamed towards goal in the 83rd minute". The paper says "the anger was intensified by the fact that Webb sent Johnny Heitinga off during extra time".

The beautiful game There's abundant praise for the winners, for Spain, which presented a "superior and impressive display of technical skill," according to Trouw. "A dizzying experience for Holland," the paper writes, and it was "man-of-the-match Andres Iniesta who dealt the killer-blow to the Dutch, who in all fairness never deserved to win the title."

This time, it was Spain, not Holland, who showed the world how beautiful the game of football can be, Trouw concludes.

AD writes, "Even though they failed to complete their mission, the Dutch team can return home holding their heads up high". According to the paper, the team's greatest achievement has been to create, "a sense of national unity, of common purpose and a more sociable, kinder country".  

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