World of Sport

World Cup Papers: Screamin’ Lord Dutch

World of Sport

The future is bright, the future is orange... but the past hardly escapes the notice of the football hacks in today's glorious selection of dailies. Rep, Neeskens and Cruyff revisited in South Africa? You get the general picture. 

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The British newspapers largely take a break from England-bashing, and speculating over who is joining who this summer, to dedicate the vast majority of space on their pristine backpages to the Netherlands' first appearance in a World Cup final since they went down to Argentina in Argentina in 1978.

The Dutch were the World Cup team of the 1970s. There remains a fascination in the UK about their innate ability to knock the ball around almost at will, especially with England's national side resembling men that hadn't met each other before for much of this tournament. 

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"Screamin' Lord Dutch" screams the main headline in The Sun, while inside the paper describes the Dutch as "The Dam Busters" after their 3-2 win over Uruguay in the semi-finals.

"Wham bam thank you Van" roars the Star in tribute to Dutch coach Bert van Marwiijk's ability to forge a feeling of togetherness among Dutch players at this tournament, an ingredient that has been missing in most of their squads over the past 20 years or so.

Henry Winter is always good for a succinct soundbite or three in the Daily Telegraph, especially in this summer of football.

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"The Dutch may be about to get closure on the Seventies. On a wonderful evening for those who love football, Holland played with total team-work and echoes of their great tradition of Total football," writes Winter.

"A team brimming with technical talent pulls gloriously in the same direction and that direction is Johannesburg. Sunday's World Cup final awaits.

"So now Gio van Bronckhorst, Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben, the goalscorers in a deserved triumph over spirited Uruguay, have the chance to succeed where such legendary names as Johan Cruyff, Johnny Rep and Johan Neeskens failed."

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The broadsheets all share a similar theme, with the Guardian claiming that this is the chance for the Dutch "to exorcise their history". Why a country that has lost in two World Cup finals would wish to exorcise its history is a moot point. 

The Netherlands woke up to a full-blown case of Oranje fever.

De Telegraaf, the country's largest newspaper, led its front page with a lion screaming "FINALE!" and photos of the team's stars.

World Cup semi-final time or not, there is always space for a bit of World Cup gossip on the tabloids. Loose talk is what moves paper and they gear up for Germany's match with Spain this evening by claiming Arsenal are ready to unload £20m to buy the Werder Bremen midfielder Mesut Ozil.

The Daily Mail have a few quotes from the man in question, who is of a mind that the England national side were "bored" between their World Cup games. One could argue that they looked bored during games, especially in that turgid 0-0 draw with Algeria in the group stages, but Ozil has his say on Germany's 4-1 caning of England in the last 16.

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"Beating England 4-1 has to be my highlight because it showed that, despite what people may say or write, Germany is still one of the best footballing nations in the world," says Ozil.

"But if you find the greatest tournament on earth boring, then you probably shouldn't be there."

The Sun claims Michael Ballack, the injured midfielder who has been released by Chelsea, is suffering a summer of discontent. According to sources, he has been banned from Germany's World Cup camp amid claims there is gnawing tension between him and captain Philipp Lahm.

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Ballack has apparently left his role as a supporter because the team doctor did not have time to treat his ankle injury. Lahm will probably not be meeting Ballack anytime soon at the Munich beer festival by insisting he has no intention of handing back the armband next season.

It would all sound a bit Dutch if it wasn't all so German. The Sun claims the Spain striker Fernando Torres won't discuss his future at Liverpool until he has a holiday after the finals, but his country only have eyes on booking a final place against the Dutch on Sunday.

The German press isn't exactly running scared of Spain, despite losing the European Championship final to the Spanish two years ago. German daily Bild is predicting a rematch of the 1974 final between Germany and the Netherlands. "Gratulations Oranje - see you on Sunday," says the newspaper.

Not if the Spanish have their way. Spain's press can only envisage a Spain-Netherlands final at Soccer City in Johannesburg. Torres scored the winner against Germany in the Euro 2008 final in Austria and Switzerland and Marca is tipping a repeat.

"Torres plays. He is the big beast for Germany," says the newspaper. AS is of a similar mind. "Germany-Spain: The match of our lives," comments AS. "Netherlands wait for us in the big final," adds AS.

Pride comes before a fall, as they say, and either the Spanish or German press is going to be a feeling a little bit sore tomorrow morning.                              

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