2010 World Cup Preview: Netherlands to Face Uruguay

The Netherlands and Uruguay are scheduled to make an unlikely appearance in the semifinals at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Both teams have survived dramatic matches, and overwhelming odds to have a shot at the world’s most prestigious soccer title.

They will meet Tuesday in Cape Town, and will face the winner of the Spain vs. Germany match. It is the first semifinal for the Dutch since 1998, and they had to overcome a 1-0 deficit to the team most favored to win the tournament, Brazil. They came back with a purpose in the second half, and Wesley Sneijder provided both goals it took to complete the upset. Sneijder’s first goal was originally ruled an own goal, but rules officials later awarded him the goal to make him the leading scorer on the Netherlands with four goals.

Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk knows his team needs to forget about that dramatic victory if they are to overcome their next opponent in Uruguay. If they do advance and win the title game, it will be the first World Cup title in Dutch history.

“We have witnessed it before in the past,” van Marwijk said. “Think about two years ago in Austria and Switzerland. We beat Italy and France and everybody already thought we would become European champions.”

Holland had a disappointing end to that tournament with a loss to Guus Hiddink’s Russia team by a score of 3-1.

“But we didn’t even survive the quarterfinals because we thought that we were already there. That’s what I’ve tried to make clear, that this has to be different.”

Nigel de Jong and Gregory van der Wiel are both going to miss the next game due to suspension for yellow cards. Joris Mathijsen is a likely substitute in the midfield. Mathijsen missed the quarterfinal due to an injury.

Uruguay is making their first final four appearance since 1970. They got there via a dramatic win over the last African team left in the draw, Ghana. Forward Luiz Suarez risked ejection by deliberately keeping the ball out of his net with a handball.

Asamoah Gyan made his way to the penalty spot, but the pressure was too much as he blasted the ball off the top cross bar. Neither team scored in overtime, and a penalty shootout ensued.  

Sebastian Abreu gave the Uruguayans the win when he chipped his penalty shot past goalkeeper Richard Kingson for the win.

“We were the last team to qualify — and we had to play 20 games to get here,” midfielder Diego Perez said. “Passing through those difficult moments made us stronger and that’s been a help as we’ve progressed. Now we will try to keep going.”

Diego Forlan will have a bigger offensive burden with the absence of Suarez Tuesday. Forlan has three goals in the tournament, a long-range free kick that leveled the contest with Ghana.

Soccer sportsbooks have set the Netherlands as the favorite to win the match at -165 odds. Uruguay has been set as the underdogs in the match at +500. The over/under set for total goals scored by both teams in the match has been set at 2.


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