In a bizarre, presumably senior, moment, Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk has accused the referee Howard Webb of favouring Spain and ‘robbing’ Holland of victory.
If anything, it was the other way round and if Mr Webb had stuck to the letter of the law rather than trying to let the game flow a bit, Holland would have started the second half with a maximum of eight players, maybe only seven. In that case, Spain would probably have wrapped the match up a lot earlier, although not guaranteed.
Van Bommel was allowed to get away with countless nasty fouls, as he generally does for some unknown reason, before finally getting a yellow card. Sergio Ramos, on the other hand, was booked for his first minor infringement. de Jong was permitted to stay on the field after a kung fu kick to the chest of Alonso.
Robben protested each and every decision which, under the dissent rules, should have seen him given his marching orders in the first half. Each time he was dispossessed, or simply failed to gain the ball, he would tumble to the ground as if pole-axed, grimacing in pain, regardless of whether there had been any contact or not. He should have been happy with his Oscar from the Brazil game, rather than going for a second.
So, hardly favouring Spain. As to whether they were robbed, that would possibly be a matter for debate. A decision one way or the other can have drastic consequences, but it all usually evens itself out in the end. They certainly weren’t denied a goal, as was the case with England, or suffered as the result of a blatantly offside goal, such as was the case with Mexico.
It is a shame when you see such obviously talented players resorting to these sort of tactics and not as any form of retaliation as they began after just thirty seconds of the match. The players from the so-called, and sadly long gone, ‘total football’ era must have cringed as they watched the new breed.
Even former Dutch ‘great’ Ruud Gullit described the performance of Holland as ‘terrible’. And it was, mainly because they chose to play the man, as they did against Brazil, rather than play the ball, trying to kick their way to victory.