The first World
URUGUAY vs. NETHERLANDS
7.30pm –Green Point, Cape Town
In one-way or another both of these sides have made huge sacrifices to make it this far in the World Cup. Uruguay are in debt to their star striker Luis Suarez, whose hand-ball gifted them a second chance against Ghana, and although the Ajax man will now miss the semi-final after being sent off against the Black Stars, Asamoah Gyan’s missed penalty gave Oscar Tabarez’s side a reprieve and they took their second chance with both hands, beating the team adopted by the locals supporters, Ghana, on penalties.
Netherlands, for all their victories, have had to do it at the expense of the disappointment of their supporters, who are more used to swashbuckling football, rather than the slow style their side has adopted in South Africa. Those same fans, who might complain at such a manner of play, might want to think back to the last time they reached a World Cup final, 1978. And suddenly it all seems worth it.
While many of the world’s best players have been left to rue poor performances during the tournament, Netherlands’ have had no such worries. Wesley Sneijder has been the diamond in the Dutch midfield, while Bert van Marwijk’s decision to hold back Arjen Robben, despite the winger protesting his fitness, till the knockout stages appears inspired. With Suarez’s absence the onus on Diego Forlan to provide the killer touch will heighten and the much converted Edinson Cavani will also need to step up to the plate, if he wishes to justify the ample transfer talk surrounding himself. But which side will be left ruing the sacrifices they made to get to this stage? Will Nertherlands curse their withdrawn strategy, or will the gap in Uruguay’s front line be too much of a void?