Holland 1974
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Holland 1978.
Group A, Wednesday 26th June 1974 (19.30):
Dutch flag Holland 4 Argentina 0 Argentinian flag
Scorers -
Cruyff Krol Rep Cruyff
12 mins 25 mins 73 mins 88 mins

Teams -
  8 Jongbloed  
20 Suurbier   17 Rijsbergen   2 Haan   12 Krol
  6 Jansen   13 Neeskens   3 Van Hanegem  
  16 Rep   14 Cruyff   15 Rensenbrink  

  2 Ayala   22 Yazalde  
11 Houseman   17 Squeo   10 Heredia   4 Balbuena
16 Sa   18 Telch   14 Perfumo   20 Wolff
  1 Carnevali  

Substitutes -
9 Glaria for 20 Wolff 46 mins
13 Kempes for 11 Houseman 65 mins
5 Israël for 20 Suurbier 85 mins
Unused Dutch Substitutes -
7 De Jong 9 Keizer 11 W. Van de Kerkhof 18 Schrijvers

Cautioned - Neeskens Perfumo Suurbier

Gelsenkirchen Park Stadium Referee - Bob Davidson (Scotland).
Linesmen - Tschenscher (W.Germany), Kazakov (USSR).
Venue - Park Stadium, Gelsenkirchen.
Attendance 55,000.

Line-up v Argentina - note white socks, presumably because the orange ones were in the wash

Line-up against Argentina.
Neeskens, Krol, Van Hanegem, Jansen, Suurbier, Rep,
Rijsbergen, Rensenbrink, Haan, Jongbloed, Cruyff.

  The introduction of two Groups of four teams in the Second Phase of the tournament, replacing Quarter- and Semi-Finals, was an innovation of the 1974 World Cup. The winning team from each Group would qualify for the Final. Although the system was to work well enough this time around, with both Groups climaxing in what was effectively a Semi-Final, most observers would agree it added but little to the excitement of the competition, and the idea was to be thoroughly discredited by the Argentina v Peru debacle in 1978 - although in truth it was the scheduling of the games rather than the Group concept that led to the problems.

Cruyff and Argentinian captain Perfumo shake hands before the game
  The only way to be sure of progressing was thus to win every game, and this was a task Holland relished, as the action moved to Gelsenkirchen. Argentina were a very enjoyable team to watch in 1974, and had already entertained the world royally in the First Phase of the competition, most notably in their game with Poland - both these superb sides had qualified from a group which had seen Italy eliminated. They were adventurous in attack and their side was packed with talented individuals, the best of whom, Carlos Babington, was unfortunately suspended for this game. They also omitted the brightest of their rising stars, the young forward Mario Kempes - a mistake they would not repeat in 1978. Defender Francisco Sa and midfielder Agustin Balbuena had been in the Independiente team beaten by Ajax for the World Club Championship in 1972.

  The steel required to win at this level may still have been four years away (of today's line-up, only substitute Kempes and René Houseman - as a substitute - would play in the 1978 Final), but they sewed the seeds of future success, and international acclaim, during their run in this World Cup, as well as winning many new admirers. They even numbered their players in alphabetic order. The Dutch of 1974, however, knew far too much for them.

  Of all the games in the 1974 World Cup, this one, more than any other, encapsulated the sheer brilliance of the Dutch team. In attack, they were just about unstoppable, changing positions constantly, every player confident on the ball, everyone capable of beating an opponent almost at will. Yet, when asked to defend, they were never caught short of numbers, nor did any of the outfield players come near to shirking a single challenge: the Dutch tackling is not always as fondly remembered by their opponents as their attacking play is by their followers, yet it was every bit as crucial to the team's success. This day saw just about the perfect blend of attack and defence, an unmatchable mix of strength, pace, passing, heading, tackling, dribbling, shooting, and, above all, movement, all together in one astonishing team over an unforgettable 90 minutes, just about as close to Michels's vision of total football as they ever came.

Cruyff expresses disbelief at Ayala's fishing anecdotes   And at the heart of it all was Cruyff, all over the field, attacking and defending; now darting away from a clumsy attempt at tackling him, now coming deep into his own half to start another attack; now knocking the ball effortlessly 30 or 40 yards to a colleague, now crisply stabbing the ball through a tiny gap in the defence; pointing where he wanted every pass played, where he wanted every player to run; constantly encouraging - or admonishing - his team-mates, or remonstrating with - or placating - opponents and referee; the total captain of the total football team.

  Holland's supremacy was evident right from the start. In a pre-echo of the opening goal, Neeskens chipped the ball over the static defence for Cruyff, but, this time, the danger was cleared. Then a slide-rule pass from Cruyff found Rensenbrink drifting free on the right, and the shot from the edge of the box was narrowly over the bar.

  Cruyff's inevitable, devastating opening goal was a masterpiece of technique, balance and sheer intelligence. He darted across the Argentinian back line from right to left, picked out Van Hanegems's perfectly weighted chip over the defence, pulled the ball down brilliantly with his right foot, rounded goalkeeper Daniel Carnevali disdainfully, using his right again, and kept his balance superbly to finish coolly with the left foot from a tricky angle.
Cruyff brings the ball under control ...
... rounds Carnevali ...
... gets the ball back ..
... and scores

  The Argentinians protested that Rijsbergen's tackle on Hector Yazalde, which had won the ball in the move that led to this goal, should have been called a foul, but the referee had waved play on, and that's what Holland had done.

  The Dutch were more or less uncontrollable by now, Argentina not exactly playing badly themselves, but bewildered by what was going on around them. Another brilliant Cruyff pass found Neeskens running free down the right. He cut the ball back to Van Hanegem, who rounded the goalkeeper but, lacking Cruyff's technique, was unable to get a shot in, and instead laid the ball back to Jansen, whose effort was desperately blocked by Enrique Wolff. Jansen exchanged passes with Neeskens, and another last-ditch challenge was required to prevent Holland from extending their lead. Van Hanegem and Rensenbrink combined down the left to create a chance for Neeskens to find the net, only for his goal to be disallowed for a questionable offside. Argentina, shaken and stirred in equal measure, exploded with collective anger when the sometimes rather over-committed Neeskens dived in on Houseman from the wrong side, earning the first yellow card of the game, but the fracas affected Holland's concentration not one jot. Rep set Jansen running through on the right, and the goalkeeper had to dash off his line to clear the ball with his defence in utter disarray.

  From the subsequent corner, Carnevali flapped a bit under challenge from Cruyff, but the ball reached the edge of the penalty area, which should have meant safety. Krol, however, was lurking with intent, and unleashed a thunderous shot which, with the aid of a couple of deflections, found its way through a forest of defenders into the back of the net. Rather a lucky goal, perhaps, but hardly more than Holland's performance deserved.

  Still Holland's commitment did not wane, as Wolff found out when he was just about cut in two by a (perfectly legitimate) challenge from Krol. The Argentinian full-back struggled on till half-time, but was clearly unlikely to finish the game. Meanwhile, the exhibition continued. Jansen chipped the ball to Rensenbrink, who tested Carnevali to the full, and the half ended with Roberto Perfumo cautioned for hacking Neeskens when he was through on goal, a thoroughly nasty, dangerous foul, and by no means his last offence.

Cruyff attempting to become the first Dutch captain to send one of his own players off
  In the second half, a tropical downpour gave the game an air of unreality (the weather for the latter stages of the World Cup was most unseasonable), but Holland needed a couple more goals to gain what might have been a crucial advantage on goal difference - a lesson well learned from the Qualifying competition. Argentina replaced the casualty Wolff with Ruben Glaria, and Holland replaced the breathtaking attacking football of the first half with a controlled domination that never taxed their own energy resources, but did enough to ensure their opponents never had a sniff at getting back into the game, a different sort of dominance but every bit as complete.

  Chances were relatively few. Cruyff took a free-kick out on the left, which Neeskens headed just over. Ruben Ayala, whose almost single-handed resistance for his side did him great credit, managed a weak shot from outside the box, just to see if Jongbloed was still awake. Suurbier was cautioned for a spiteful trip on Roberto Telch, after being roughly treated himself. Kempes belatedly came on for Houseman, just as the rain started to lash it down, and he must have been wondering just what he was expected to do in order to save the game for Argentina. Suffice it to say he didn't. Perhaps to emphasise to the new arrival how difficult was his task, Cruyff took the ball through the defence on his own, to be denied by the outstretched left foot of Carnevali.

Van Hanegem follows Rep's header over the line   With the rain now teeming down, Krol set up a move down the left wing, Cruyff's wicked spinning cross went beyond the defenders, and Rep judged his run to perfection, his accurate downward header finally making it 3-0. For Argentina, it just got worse, as Telch was forced to leave the field injured, after they had used both their allowed substitutes. But when Suurbier was caught late by Sa, and limped off, Holland still had the pocket battleship Rinus Israël in reserve to replace him, Rijsbergen briefly reverting to his club position at right-back. Then an injury to Carlos Squeo left the Argentinians with nine fit men, and presumably praying for the game to end.

  It didn't. Rep played the ball to Cruyff, who was very marginally given offside. Cruyff, through on his own, was cynically taken out by Perfumo, with the referee, perhaps feeling sorry for the Argentinians, taking no action. A minute later, the Argentinian captain repeated the trick, with still no red card forthcoming. Cruyff, with an exaggerated show of sportsmanship that verged on sarcasm, accepted Perfumo's proffered handshake by way of apology: there was little point in continuing the argument. A fourth Dutch goal was by now inevitable. The move was initiated by an exchange between Neeskens and Rep down the right, the ball moved across the edge of the box until Van Hanegem played a quick one-two with Jansen. Though Carnevali saved Van Hanegem's shot, the ball broke free on the left hand side of the penalty area, and Cruyff was on hand to volley superbly, right-footed from a sharply acute angle. That, finally, was an end to it.

Cruyff's last goal

  So Argentina, beaten comprehensively yet in no way disgraced, went home to spend four years planning their revenge. They hadn't really played that badly, in any area of the field, it was just that their opponents had played far, far better, in every area.

  Holland, with four-goal wins in the last two games, had gone from colourful outsiders to serious contenders for the World Cup itself.

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