Reda Maher

Brazil 360: Punching above their weight – the Oranjeplein symbolic of Dutch success

Reda Maher

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When the Netherlands come to town, they paint it orange.

Despite being relatively small in numbers in Brazil, the Netherlands – who bring only a few thousand fans to their matches – host their traditional and rather impressive Oranjeplein wherever they go.

This involves the occupation of a local square or – in some cases in congested Sao Paulo – an area near the stadium, which is turned into one giant tangerine festival.

There is an Oranje Bus – complete with their own DJ Danny Lukassen – and, of course, thousands of Dutch fans, all resplendent of the famous kit.

For the World Cup semi-final against Argentina, the Sao Paulo authorities made a last-minute decision to let the Dutch start their party in town, having previously made them host it outside Arena Corinthians.

A couple of hours before kick-off, they will march in unison to the ground, where they continue to lark about until just before kick-off.

[NETHERLANDS V ARGENTINA: LIVE AT 21:00 UK]

The Dutch fans’ ability to impress despite relatively small numbers is consistent with their footballing culture.

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A maximisation of talent, despite having a population of around 17 million, and a maximisation of space on the pitch, inspired by the country’s own spatial limitations, which is explained in depth in David Winner’s seminal book ‘Brilliant Orange’.

Louis van Gaal has repeatedly said that his squad is limited compared to that of other nations, in terms of resources and talent.

[MOURINHO HAILS ROBBEN]

I would beg to differ – there is arguably more ability on their bench than yesterday’s Brazil side had on the pitch – but he has a point.

The Dutch very much punch above their weight.

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Eurosport’s Reda Maher is on location in Brazil for the duration of the 2014 World Cup - follow him on Twitter @Reda_Eurosport

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