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Pragmatic soccer works

india Updated: Jul 12, 2010 01:05 IST
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It's a big thing for such a small country like Holland to reach the World Cup final. Yet there has been criticism because the team has been so conservative. To the critics I say this: pragmatic football works. We've been exposed by playing attractive football in the past: now it's time to win.

I think the change in the Dutch style reflects the U-turn in international football, generally. It's so hard to play sexy, exceptional football all the time. Germany played a couple of exciting games and Portugal impressed against North Korea but most teams have been much more defensive.

It's far easier to demolish a house than to build it. In the same way, a lot of teams have become difficult to beat because they're so organised. Look how hard a technically gifted team like Spain have had to work for every result. Football has evolved.

Take Barcelona. They played the best football you have ever seen in 2008-09 but the next season they were beaten by Inter Milan in the Champions League. Yes, they have eight players in the Spain squad who are Euro champs and have reached the World Cup final but it takes truly exceptional players to maintain that sort of rhythm. The good news is that two teams who are capable of playing attacking football, Spain and Holland, have reached the final so defensive football hasn't won - just yet. A Holland versus Germany final would have been great because there's such a tradition of rivalry.

You talk about England v Germany but Germany v Holland is bigger. It's a friendly, sporting rivalry. It all stems from the 1974 World Cup, when Johan Neeskens put Holland ahead with a penalty and Paul Breitner and Gerd Muller hit back, enabling the Germans to lift the trophy at home.