Wednesday, June 21, 2006

"There is a great excitement in the air," says the commentator before the heavyweight match of Argentina and Holland. Both countries already qualified for the second round, still this is the first meeting of two favorites to make it all the way.
The stands are orange, I wear my orange jersey, and we are playing Argentina.
The first half starts hopeful. Argentina defends deep, allowing ball possession to the Dutch. My senses heighten, would Argentina be playing for a draw?
The first shot is for van Persie, he shoots a free kick in the hands of the Argentinean keeper. To easy, the Dutch will have to be more creative.

In the fifteenth minute, Van Der Sar, the Keeper of Holland, catches the ball from a corner. It is the first advance of Argentina, and they are not letting up. The new Maradonna, Messi, passes a smart ball to another Argentinean striker. The striker is not fast enough to for the ball, but the offence is switched. Argentina is taking control.

"Argentina is fighting to win it," says the commentator while an Argentinean striker outplays the Dutch defense. “Argentina on a bit of momentum."
The Dutch defense might not control the ball, they raise enough confusion for Argentina to shoot the ball wide.
The Dutch counters are closing in on the goal of Argentina. In the Eighteenth minute, Kuyt, for Holland, shoots from three meter, from a sharp angle, in the side net.
Minutes later Messi cannot dribble past the Dutch defense. The technique of Argentina cannot break the 'total football' of Holland.

Boulahrouze, a player for Holland, nearly breaks it for Argentina. He beats the Argentinean offense to the ball, which crosses the Dutch penalty box. He stretches his leg to shoot the ball past the goal, out of danger. The ball bounces of the left post, and the stands produce a massive 'oomph' sound.
Minutes later Argentina aims for the Dutch goal. Van der Sar, the Dutch keeper, dives to cover the top right corner. The ball sails two feet over his hands, and only inches over the crossbar.
In the thirty-first minute, two Argentinean strikers break for the Dutch goal, passing the ball to each other, diluting the Dutch defense. When they reach the penalty box, Argentina plays the ball to far ahead. Easy pickings, for Van der Sar.
At the end of the first half, Argentina demands more possession of the ball then they did at the start. Still it remains nil-nil when the referee sends the players for the half-time break.

"Both teams having advanced seems to take something out of the game," says the commentator at the start of the second half. "The most hyped game before the tournament is not living up to its expectations.”
I disagree, I see two teams in check, not able to break each other defense. The battle to create new possibilities is boiling with suspense, certainly for a Dutch man.
Argentina is testing the Dutch defense closer and closer to the goal. As a Dutchman I dare to say, Holland lost command to Argentina.
"The defense of the Netherlands is up for the challenge," says the commentator.
The Dutch gain ground back, while they try to crack down the Argentinean defense on the counter. However, they do not get further then a few long-range shots.
Argentina bends the Dutch defense a little further, but also cannot crack it.
When the referee blows his whistle, I know the Dutch play Portugal in round two.
Maybe they play Argentina again, in the final.