Holland is known all over the world as the land of tulips, canals and bicycles. Well, their national soccer team is on the cusp of adding one more thing to that list. Despite the fact that it is a small country with only 16 million citizens it has always been able to field strong soccer teams. For a long time they have played their own brand of the "beautiful game". The Dutch brand of offensive soccer has long been applauded and won them fans worldwide.
Though they are playing a more conservative brand of soccer in this World Cup they are the only undefeated side at 6-0. They now are in the finals for the third time (they lost the first two) and have become the side that many fans are cheering for. The stands in South Africa have become a sea of orange and they are hotter than a Montreal July. Here are ten reasons why the Oranje have become the 'stylish' team at the World Cup:
1) Fans: Wherever the Dutch play their games the sea of orange follows. Again, since they are a small nation it is impressive the numbers they get out in support. That kind of support has got to buoy the eleven men on the field.
2) Style of Play: Though they are not exactly the flashy Dutch of the past with their pinpoint passes and offensive flair there is still something to say about their offensive game when they put their minds and skills to it.
3) Star Appeal: Though the Dutch are a strong team from top to bottom they do have a couple of standouts. Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder are world class players. They add plenty of flash to their side.
4) Get Away With the Diving: The Dutch are not know for players who throw themselves on the floor at the slightest contact grabbing a part of their bodies. The only player that engages in that is Robben and for some reason he seems to get away with it. Maybe it is because of the artistry he brings to the game. Whatever the reason people seem to overlook it.
5) Good Goaltending: Young Maarten Stekelenburg recently took over from the popular long standing keeper Edwin van der Sar. Van der Sar had played more games for the Dutch than anyone else. Stekelenburg must have been nervous knowing all eyes would be on him. He has done a good job like making a big save against Brazil to keep the score at 1-0.
6) Luck: You know that the gods are smiling on you when the Brazil keeper totally misplays an innocent looking cross and it ends up in the back of the net. You know luck is on your side when a pretty harmless Sneijder shot deflects off a Uruguayan defender to put them up 2-1 in the semis. They say you have to be lucky to be good and the Dutch have had their share of luck. Are they a team of destiny?
7) They are Humble: Well, not completely, but they seem to not be looking ahead to the next game. Even when playing inferior sides. They are taking this tournament very seriously.
8) Playing Like a Team: Despite the rumours of some tension between Robin van Persie and Sneijder, the Dutch have been acting and playing like a cohesive side. They seem close and willing to go to war with each other.
9) The Coaching: Bert Van Marwijk was hired to coach the Dutch soccer team two years ago. They are now undefeated in 23 straight games under him. He might have the fans a bit upset because they are playing more conservative soccer but who can argue with winning?
10) Leadership: Wesley Sneijder has proven himself to be a strong leader. At times he has carried the team on his back. He has provided them with goals when they needed them, provided flash when Robben was out of the line-up and running around never slacking off. Leading by example.