Friday, July 09, 2010


Well, I did not recall that much about the dirtiest player in world football, van Bommel's leg-breaking tackle for the first goal but I remember Van Persie to be at the offside position for the second goal. He should be considered to be interfering with play since the ball went past him and he was blocking the goalie's view.

Anyway, I hope Spain win the final and as I have repeated earlier, I just prefer the cleaner team. Yes, I enjoy beautiful football but it must be played clean. That's it!

World Cup 2010 Comment: Refereeing Errors Eliminate Uruguay, But It’s Been An Unforgettable World Cup
Uruguay should have no hard feelings despite controversial exit, writes Carlo Garganese...
By Carlo Garganese
Jul 6, 2010 10:30:00 PM

Uruguay may have lost 3-2 to the Netherlands in Cape Town this evening to see their World Cup dreams come to an end, but they will return to their homeland after Saturday’s third-and-fourth playoff as heroes.

When the finals began three-and-a-half weeks ago, no one could have predicted La Celeste progressing all the way to the last four. After all, this Uruguay team had only qualified for South Africa via the Concacaf/Conmebol playoff against Costa Rica, and were appearing in just their second World Cup since 1990. It had been 40 years since they last reached the semi-finals.

And, indeed, only some small, controversial details tonight prevented them from going a step further and contesting Sunday’s final in Johannesburg against Germany or Spain. After Diego Forlan had cancelled out Giovani van Bronckhorst’s wonderstrike with a long range goal of his own, Uruguay had the Netherlands wobbling in the second half. Forlan went close with another free kick, and Alvaro Pereira saw his chip cleared off the line before Holland scored with a controversial Wesley Sneijder sucker-punch.

The current interpretation of the offside law is that if any part of your body is offside and you are interfering with play, then it is an infringement. Robin Van Persie’s foot was offside and, as he was standing right in front of Nestor Muslera, Sneijder’s goal should have been chalked off.

As should van Bronckhorst’s opener, as the dirtiest and most dislikeable player in world football Mark van Bommel executed a leg-breaking tackle on an opponent just seconds earlier that went unpunished and should have resulted in a red card.

Due to Luis Suarez-gate in the match against Ghana, there will be absolutely no fuss made in most places about the fact that Holland’s first two goals shouldn’t have stood tonight. But, we won't hide away from the facts. To put it simply, Uruguay would have won 2-1 with proper officiating.

After Arjen Robben had headed home an excellent team goal to put Holland 3-1 up, Uruguay displayed the impressive character that has got them this far by pulling a goal back in the 91st minute through Maxi Pereira and then peppering the Dutch goal before the final whistle.

Despite their controversial exit tonight, Uruguay should not dwell too long on what might have been. Diego Forlan, coach Oscar Tabarez, and the rest of the gang have well and truly put the South Americans back on the map after 40 years in the shadows and they should savour every minute of the heroes welcome they receive back in Uruguay next week.

World Cup 2010: Analysing Netherlands Star Wesley Sneijder's 'Offside' Goal Against Uruguay's Subhankar Mondal explains why the South Americans have reasons to be aggrieved after Tuesday's match.....
By Subhankar Mondal
Jul 7, 2010 10:15:00 AM

In our World Cup Comment series, individual writers at offer their views on the hot World Cup topics of the day with local expertise and a global outlook...

The 2010 World Cup finals has been replete with refereeing errors and officials have been severely criticised, mostly for the right reasons. On Tuesday night in Cape Town in the first sem-final between South American romantics Uruguay and European powerhouse Netherlands, once again controversial decisions marred the match.

No, we are not talking about the second Dutch goal - not yet - but the first. Giovanni van Bronckhorst scored one of the goals of the competition with a sensational strike, but in the build-up to that goal, Dutch midfielder Mark Van Bommel launched himself into a dangerous challenge on an opponent. So ideally, Uruguay shouldn't have conceded that goal in the first place.

Not that it conditioned the game much really, and neither did the second goal from midfielder Wesley Sneijder, which again shouldn't have stood as it was an offside offence. It was scored at a time when the match was level at 1-1 and although one shouldn't emphatically stress that this goal entirely affected the consequent proceedings, it did, however, put the Dutch in a more relaxed state of mind.

Let us now dissect that second Oranje goal and see why it shouldn't have stood. But let's first explain what "offside" means.

According to the Laws Of The Game, a player is in an offside position if he is nearer to his opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent. But it is not an offence in itself to be in an offside position.

This essentially means that a player can stay near the opposition goalkeeper throughout the 90 minutes, but he will not be deemed offside unless at the moment the ball touches or is played by one of his team, he is, in the opinion of the referee, involved in active play by:

a) interfering with play or
b) interfering with an opponent or
c) gaining an advantage by being in that position.

But a player is not in an offside position if:

a) he is in his own half of the field of play or
b) he is level with the second-last opponent or
c) he is level with the last two opponents

Now let us apply these rules to Wesley Sneijder's goal.

When Sneijder took the shot on the Uruguayan goal, striker Robin Van Persie was (apparently) in line - to the assistant referee - with defender Diego Godin, who was the second-last opponent (the last one is the Uruguayan goalkeeper Fernando Muslera). However, TV replays showed that his right foot was beyond the line, and according to the interpretation of the laws, the Arsenal striker was in an offside position, as a part of his body with which it is legal to score a goal was beyond the second-last defender.

Now, Sneijder took an attempt on the Uruguayan goal rather than try to pass the ball towards Van Persie. So in an ideal situation, Van Persie wouldn't have been in an offside position had he just allowed the ball to go past him. Suppose Sneijder's shot hadn't taken a deflection off Maxi Pereira and had gone in, then the Dutch striker wouldn't have been deemed to be interfering with the play and the goal would have been legitimate.

But the ball did take a deflection towards Van Persie, who apparently tried to turn the ball home with his right foot, which directly denotes that the 26-year-old was interfering with the play - this is an offside offence.

Even if for argument's sake, we take it that Van Persie was just letting the ball move by removing his leg from its path, he was still interfering with play. The Arsenal striker was directly in front of Muslera and was blocking his sight of vision, therefore putting Muslera at a disadvantage and interfering with play. The Dutchman was in an 'active' state of play at the time.

All of which points to the fact that Van Persie was in an offside position. Of course, the entire hypothesis is based on the fact that the positioning of his right foot placed him in an offside position - this is, in turn, based on the interpretation that for a player to be deemed onside, his entire body should be in line with the second-last opponent.

Once again a controversial decision left an ever-lasting impact on a game's result. Not that you can entirely blame the referee's assistant: after all, we - all those not on the touchline dressed in black with a flag in one hand - have the luxury of watching the video over and over again, while the poor referee has just one chance to make his decision.

World Cup 2010: Mark van Bommel at the heart of the new harder Holland

The most successful Dutch side for 32 years is in the paradoxical position of also being the most criticised

As the old saying goes, Mark van Bommel would kick his granny if she went near him with a football. For once Dutch football is earning what might be called complicated praise as Bert van Marwijk's men prepare for the country's first World Cup final since 1978.

The deep well of goodwill towards the Oranje will endure but the most successful Holland side for 32 years is in the paradoxical position of also being the most criticised. Even many Dutch fans, who are accustomed to seeing beauty dissolve at this stage of a World Cup, feel disconnected from the new defensive pragmatism. They will cope, of course, when Sunday's starting whistle blows. For neutrals, though, there is the unlikely sideshow of Holland rewriting their own constitution.

Rucks and rumination are out, results are in. At the core of it Van Bommel appears to have a special dispensation to foul. Officially he has breached the laws of the game just 15 times but there is a suspicion that Fifa's counters mean per minute. Against Brazil and then Uruguay on last night it was a miracle he stayed on the pitch. So skilled is the Bayern Munich enforcer at pushing the boundaries of acceptable tackling that referees are caught in his machiavellian spell.

Van Bommel was cautioned eventually in Cape Town but not for a crime of the boot. It was his mouth that put his name in the book. Dissent, in added time, was the misdemeanour to which the referee finally objected. This leniency reflects Van Bommel's expert protestations after the moment of impact. He is a master at appearing sinned against when the opponent is jackknifed on the ground.

These are not leg-breaking atrocities but persistent acts of destruction intended to disrupt the opposition's rhythm. The point arises so sharply in previews of the final because Holland have made a break with a beautiful but flimsy past. This Dutch side is really three-plus-seven. A trio of traditional masters – Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder – are supported by a larger gang of piano-shifters who have been educated the Dutch way but accept a reduced role in a cautious and hard-working ensemble.

Thus the new Holland play spectacular angular football only in spurts and then reorganise around a closed defence. To disparage this change can seem absurd. The Netherlands are bidding to become the first team since Brazil in 1970 to win all their qualifying games and then triumph in all seven World Cup contests. A betrayal of the country's artistic heritage, to some, Holland's hardened outlook also declares a new intolerance of failure, a weariness with underachievement.

Van Marwijk has owned up to the campaign against useless beauty, to borrow from an Elvis Costello song. He says: "I'm a realist. We know we can beat every country and when you know that you go to a World Cup to win it, not to try just to win one or two games. The way Barcelona played against Arsenal [in this season's Champions League] was the best I ever saw. For me the result was not important because as an outsider I enjoyed watching the game so much. But when you are personally involved, results are your objective."

This is an unmistakable repudiation of the Dutch past. Even as the names of the 1998 generation who lost a World Cup semi-final to Brazil roll from the imagination – Bergkamp, Overmars, Davids, Seedorf, Kluivert – an aesthetic gap appears between the near-miss decades and the team of Van Bommel, Nigel de Jong and even Dirk Kuyt, Liverpool's indefatigable workhorse. Against Uruguay, Holland claimed only 53% of the possession: proof that more of their work is being done without the ball.

For a Dutch side not to seize possession and scribble clever patterns with it was anathema until Van Marwijk staged his revolution by stealth. The back of his team is workmanlike. It is protected by two screening midfielders who are not natural passers. Van Bommel and De Jong are destroyers, which places the creative onus on Sneijder, who appears immune to fatigue as he tries to add the World Cup to the Coppa Italia, Serie A and Champions League titles he has won with Internazionale.

"Slaughter your darlings" is a phrase aimed at writers who try too hard with words and images that clog up prose. Holland have slaughtered their darlings at this World Cup and Van Bommel has chopped down a lot of promising attacks. There is a shaven-headed intensity about this 2010 side that rejects the effeteness of more naturally gifted Dutch teams. Even the traditional rumours about players hating one another or falling out have failed to take proper root. No buddy movie could be made from the relationship between Van Persie and Sneijder but overall the collective will has held.

Which is more commendable: entertaining failure or prosaic success? Van Marwijk would say it is too cosy for neutrals to applaud beaten Dutch teams to the airport while more cunning tournament specialists advance. But to retain enough of the old flame on Sunday they need the three artistes to shine and the referee to get tough with Van Bommel.

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