What: FIFA 2010 World Cup
Who: Uruguay vs Holland (Semi-final)
When: Tuesday 6th July, 2010, at 19:30 UK Time
Where: Green Point Stadium, Cape Town

A Proud Achievement

At the beginning of this year’s World Cup, many would have suggested that at least one South American team would be in the semi-finals, but very few would have guessed that two time winners Uruguay would be leading the Latin continent’s charge. With the loss of Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina in the quarters, Uruguay have sparkled to delight many spectators across the world, not just the country’s three million inhabitants. Solid wins in the group stages against South Africa and Mexico saw them top their group and ultimately strive to a good showing. Having arguably one of the easier routes to the semi-finals, La Celeste have accounted for South Korea and perhaps fortunately, Ghana.

This is a team in where the stars have truly stepped up with Diego Forlan, Luis Suarez and Diego Lugano, putting their best foot forward to contribute to this run. Since the group stages, their defence has been found out on occasion, but their frontline potency has accounted for what teams have come their way. Luis Suarez especially has arguably played one of the biggest parts in getting the Uruguayans to this meeting with Holland after sacrificing himself on the goalline (he palmed out a certain goal with all the agility of a seasoned keeper) to deny Ghana, who watched with anguish when Asamoah Gyan subsequently missed the resulting penalty.

Coach Oscar Tabarez will be more than happy with his team, but the wily manager might have to be content with a semi-final appearance. The loss of Luis Suarez to suspension, and the possibility of Diego Lugano being ruled out with injury, will have the 63-year-old former AC Milan boss scratching his head as to who will be good enough to step in at this stage in the competition.

Oranje Fever

Dutch fans are not ones to regularly be called optimistic. Every time their team takes to a World Cup, a fear of self-destruction within the ranks of their squad is ever present. Ever since the halcyon days of total football, there have been more than a few egos in the Dutch camp to say the least, but no manager has been strong enough to suppress their personalities. 2010 has seen a different approach. Gone is the ‘sexy football’ and in has come a much more pragmatic way of play that has the Dutch poised for their best showing at a World Cup since the campaigns of 1974 and 1978. This run has seen the Oranje win every game on their way to the semi-finals, notably with a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over favourites Brazil.

Wesley Sneijder has been the heartbeat of this Dutch outfit, and his sublime range of passing and ability to curl the ball into the net has greatly aided a team that has been blunted since the loss of Ruud van Nistelrooy. Arjen Robben too has been key to all that has been good about their attacking play, a pleasant surprise after a hamstring injury left many doubting he’d play any part in the tournament. Brazil simply could not handle the Bayern Munich winger in the quarter-final, and it was his runs down the flanks that brought dozens of fouls and caused much frustration for the Brazilians.

Bert van Warwijk has certainly brought a different flavour to Dutch football, that perhaps can be grating on the palate at times, but certainly one that can bring short term success. A much more rugged style enforced by players such as Nigel de Jong and Mark van Bommel, have seen the most disciplined performances from the Dutch in an age, and not only has Van Marwijk instilled a winning formula, but he has been able to keep egotistical players under control with no reports of any unrest thus far in the camp. Against Uruguay, Van Marwijk will be without Nigel de Jong who picked up his second yellow of the tournament along with Gregory van der Wiel.

Recent form

Mexico 0–1 Uruguay (22/06; World Cup – Group A)
Uruguay 2–1 South Korea (26/06; World Cup – Round of 16)
Uruguay 1–1 Ghana (Uruguay win 4-2 on penalties; 02/07; World Cup – Quarter-final)

Cameroon 1–2 Holland (24/06; World Cup – Group E)
Holland 2–1 Slovakia (28/06; World Cup – Round of 16)
Holland 2–1 Brazil (02/07; World Cup – Quarter-final)

Players to watch

Uruguay – Diego Forlan: Goalscoring has been this man’s trade for many a year, and he has honed that in Spain’s Primera Division, each year contesting the top scoring awards. His form has also picked up for the national team, and since the 2010 World Cup qualifying phase, Forlan has been the most reliable goalscorer in the squad. Surprisingly however, the Atletico Madrid man has only hit the back of the net three times in this World Cup, but he will be keen to add to it. The 31-year-old should be key to any chance La Celeste have of progressing.

Holland – Arjen Robben: If there is one man still at the World Cup that can turn a game all on his lonesome, it would have to be the Bayern Munich man. Robben has been an influential figure since his return from injury, scoring on his first start of the tournament, and ripping Brazil to shreds in the quarter-final. Arguably the only true superstar in a team that is normally studded with highly rated players, Robben has been a joy to watch with his mazy dribbles and incisive runs drawing fouls and setting up opportunities. Robben is truly kicking on since his last World Cup and could well be the difference between failure and the sweetest success in the World Cup for the Oranje.

Match prediction

On paper this is a mismatch. Uruguay have been magnificent to get here, but they have relied on key players to perform to get this far. It is yet to be seen whether or not they have enough gas in the tank to beat a Dutch side that looks to have been in cruise control all tournament. Being without Luis Suarez and with injury clouds hanging over Diego Lugano and Nicolas Lodeiro the side will certainly be rattled. Essentially the backbone of Uruguay has been ripped out and they will arguably struggle against a talented Oranje team full of depth.

In the Dutch camp Van Marwijk has to contend with two suspensions, but there is possibly less to worry about. Demy de Zeeuw and Khalid Boulharouz are the most likely to replace the duo, and both have proved to be competent replacements with some minutes under their belt in this year’s campaign. Otherwise, the men in orange should be ready to tackle a stubborn Uruguay side. Their mental resilience against Brazil showed that they are up to any challenge and with some luck, can manage a sound victory over Uruguay on their way to the final.

Don’t forget: If you fancy a bet on this exciting game, you can find and compare the prices of all major online bookmakers at tip-ex.com.