At the start of the World Cup, if anybody had pitted these two together at the semi-final stage, you would have been severely down in most people’s estimations. The Uruguayans were tipped to finish third behind perennial powerhouses France and the hosts South Africa, so they wouldn’t have had the chance to take on Holland. Nobody’s laughing at the Uruguayans now.
Oscar Tabarez’s side have roared through the group stages with impressive victories in the group stages against South Africa and fellow qualifiers Mexico. They also passed South Korea with flying colours and overcame a tough battle against the only remaining African side at the time, Ghana, in the quarter finals. They are evoking memories of the 1930’s and 1950’s to their followers and the whole of South America is pleading for their progress, since their two main hopes in Brazil and Argentina wilted pitifully against Germany and Uruguay’s next opponents, The Netherlands.
The form of Luis Suarez has been a hot topic in this World Cup and he has been at the head of rumours of a transfer to Manchester United. He will miss the semi-final, however, thanks to his highly controversial handball in the quarter final. If Uruguay beat Holland, Suarez will be back for the final, having received a one game ban from Fifa, which I believe is slightly unfair. Other injuries in the squad include the injury doubt of the skipper, Diego Lugano, and the broken foot of midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro. Key defender Jorge Fucile is also out, which puts a high amount of pressure on Atletico Madrid forward Diego Forlan.
Uruguay’s opponents, Holland, have had a pretty seamless pass to the quarter finals. They waltzed through the group stages with under-par performances and a second round performance, which didn’t show as much from Holland as they showed in the qualifying for this tournament. Brazil posed a further test, but Holland battled through, thanks largely to one of the men of the tournament, Wesley Sneijder. The 26 year old Inter Milan midfielder had a fantastic year, leading into the World Cup and has continued his rich vein of form, scoring the decisive winner against Brazil.
The Dutch boss, Bert van Maarwijk, has been criticised for not playing the “Total Oranje” style of football, but you cannot argue with the results he is producing. Holland have been boosted by star striker, Robin van Persie, declaring himself fit to face the Uruguayans after a scan revealed his left elbow wasn’t as badly hurt as first seemed. Defender Joris Mathijsen is available after his knee problem, so there are no injury worries for Holland to face, but fullback Gregory van der Wiel and defensive midfielder Nigel de Jong are both suspended.
van Maarwijk has concocted a side that hasn’t lost since September 2008 in a friendly against Australia and don’t expect that record to subside on Tuesday night. I think that the Netherlands will be too strong for the Uruguayans, because of their vast record in international competitions and Luis Suarez is going to be a big miss for Uruguay, because of his physical presence and goals. Holland will run the show and I’m predicting a 3-1 Holland win in normal time. I’d love to see an underdog provide an upset, but the suspensions and injuries have destroyed La Celeste’s chances of their first final since 1950. Holland for the win and South America to break down in tears.