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Van Bommel set on stopping Spain

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Paul Fletcher | 16:00 UK time, Saturday, 10 July 2010

World Cup 2010: Johannesburg

The players of Spain and the Netherlands, as well as their coaching staff and supporters, face their day of destiny at Soccer City on Sunday.

The winners will make history by becoming the eighth team to win the Fifa World Cup. Back home the triumphant players will become legends.

Thankfully there is a pleasing variety of potential match-winners on both sides; technically gifted players who possess the ability to unlock the opposition with a moment of invention and skill.

David Villa, Andres Iniesta and Xavi for Spain, Wesley Sneijder, Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben for the Dutch - these are just six who could provide us with a final to savour.

But when thinking about the match and whose influence could prove to be decisive, I keep coming back to Dutch midfielder Mark van Bommel.

He plays alongside Nigel de Jong in a deep-sitting central midfield role. Together they provide the defensive stability that allows the Dutch full-backs and attacking midfielders to push forward.

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They are also charged with snuffing out the opposition and winning back the ball.

Van Bommel is the 'rough em up man' in the Dutch team and how effectively he performs on Sunday will directly impact on Spain's much-feted passing game.

He will occupy the same space as Iniesta, Xavi and Xabi Alonso, the first two of whom are on the 10-man shortlist for the prestigious Fifa Golden Ball award given to the tournament's best player.

We saw against Germany in Durban on Wednesday how easily Spain control possession when they are gifted the space and time to do so - and it is a point that has not been missed by Van Bommel.

"We have to break their midfield and stop their playmakers from playing," said Van Bommel, a former team-mate of both Iniesta and Xavi at Spanish side Barcelona.

"That is our biggest mission because they are both great talents."

Fifa statistics show that Van Bommel has committed 12 fouls in six games. His only booking was for dissent late in the semi-final against Uruguay after the Bayern Munich man argued with the referee.

But he could have been booked for a tackle on Walter Gargano earlier in the contest, while fouls on Martin Caceres and Sebastian Fernandez were also cynical.

A cursory browse around the internet will tell you that Van Bommel is not to everybody's taste. The words cynical, robust and nasty are used to describe his style of play.

Indeed, Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk has this week publicly defended his midfielder.

"I don't agree with what people are saying," said Van Marwijk, who is the player's father-in-law.

"The yellow card on Tuesday was his first of the competition. He has shown a lot of discipline in his play."

It would be both wrong and naive to cast Van Bommel as some kind of old-fashioned hatchet man, as a player who is graceless and entirely devoid of footballing ability.

Players in that category do not play for PSV Eindhoven, Barcelona and Bayern. Netherlands midfielder Mark van Bommel
Van Bommel was uncompromising during the Netherlands' win over Uruguay

Think back to a friendly against England at White Hart Lane in 2001 and the opening goal of a 2-0 win that Van Bommel scored. It was a truly stunning strike from 35 yards and hinted at a player with a high technical ability.

He retired from international football in September 2006 when Marco van Basten was in charge but returned after a two-year absence following the appointment of Van Marwijk.

Van Bommel now finds himself one victory from becoming a World Cup winner and I expect him to do everything possible to try to shut down the Spanish midfield on Sunday.

However, against the backdrop of so many column inches about the supposedly easy ride he has been given by referees, it will be interesting to watch the approach of Howard Webb at Soccer City.

The Rotherham-born official is the first Englishman to take charge of a World Cup final since Jack Taylor in 1974. He has not stood for any on-field nonsense in South Africa and has made his approach very clear early in the games he has refereed.

Taylor awarded a penalty to the Netherlands after just two minutes of the 1974 final in Munich after a foul on Johann Cruyff by Uli Hoeness. Johan Neeskens scored but the gifted Dutch side that had been coach by Rinus Michels went on to lose 2-1.

They also lost the 1978 final as well and have waited 32 years for their third attempt to lift the trophy that their contribution to the global game surely deserves.

Osvaldo Ardiles was in the Argentina team which defeated the Netherlands in 1978 and believes that the Dutch team back then resembles the current Spain side, characterised as they both are by a desire to own the football.

Spain, the Euro 2008 champions, are in the final for the first time - and have reached this stage after three 1-0 wins in the knock-out rounds.

Alonso said after his side's 1-0 victory over Germany in Durban that he felt Spain were becoming increasingly fluent in midfield.

"The way we are playing is good because we give so much importance to the association between the players, keeping the ball and having good options," said the 28-year-old.

If the tiki-taka flows it could be a long evening for Van Bommel, who at 33 is approaching the veteran stage and ill-suited to chasing shadows.

But if a cynical trip or a subtle tug of the shirt is required to halt an attack in its infancy then I do not expect him to hesitate, while a continual series of niggly fouls to break up play could be the order of the day.

The World Cup will have a new winner for the first time since France 1998 - and, love him or loathe him, the impact of Van Bommel on Sunday will go a long way to deciding whose name is on the trophy.

You can follow me throughout what little remains of the World Cup at


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  • Comment number 1.

    Yep, what most people are missing is that for the non pass to Torres against the Germans the other night, Spain would have been 2:0 up. I am not one for ifbuts, but definitely we can get more goals out of a Spanish side, that is becoming synonymous with George Graham. Grinding out the 1:0. However if Webb is on his usual game I expect a lot of bookings....they might turn the match.

  • Comment number 2.

    Sarcastic congratulations on your misguided praise for Van Bommel, who, while he is a very good player, is the dirtiest player in Europe by a wide margin.
    What is this great game coming to when such a player is allowed to perform the way he does, without sanction? Whatever became of honour and sportsmanship?

  • Comment number 3.

    Spain dominated against Germany but could have always lost if Germany had nicked a goal, and if it wasnt for Casillas they would have.
    This is what happened vs Switzerland and this is what will happen against Holland.
    They have to score more freely.

  • Comment number 4.

    van Bommel being allowed to line up tomorrow is a joke! Some of the 'tackles' he has gotten away with have been tantamount to assault. I counted at least FOUR blatantly bookable challenges against Brazil in the 2nd half of that match, whilst the near leg-breaker on Uruguay's Gargano warranted a red card AND, at least, a 3 game ban.

    This man is a ticking time-bomb, he will end up seriously injuring someone. Then the bumbling bureaucrats at FIFA will have no choice but to punish him severely.

  • Comment number 5.

    I don't mind tough / aggressive tackling players - they are part of the game. But some of Van Bommels "tackles" (I use that word very loosely) have been awful and the fact that he hasn't been given a single red card is a joke!

    By all means stick the boot in, be aggressive and get in the faces of the opposition but putting your foot in at shin height should be drawing out the cards.

    Two things have shocked me, he hasn't been sent off and that no one in the opposition has taken him out. One of them is going to happen eventually and when it does, I don't think anyone will feel sorry for him.

  • Comment number 6.

    I realise I don't know Van Bommel personally, but I know for sure that he is an awful man.

  • Comment number 7.

    Van Bommel is the luckiest player in this World Cup. I actually think he is a very good player however, his tackling at times have been atrocious. I have no idea how he's not been sent off at least once.

    I hope he doesn't tackle like this as I am really looking forward to a great game. If Van Bommel repeats some of those horrid tackles, then I fear for the Spanish ball players.

  • Comment number 8.

    All teams have someone that has to pull the good old hand break. van Bommel (Keane Viera just to name a few) although not popular for it is a good player otherwise he would not make the squad. However during the world cup he is fouled upon more often than he fouls others. He could have been booked more often in the tournament but so were other that escaped, I feel this to be a bit of which hunt to be honest

  • Comment number 9.

    jam boy from which planet are you?

  • Comment number 10.

    Van Bommel will be lucky to stay a full half in the pitch. Between his old age and Iniesta, Xavi etc,. either he will be outclassed and carted off or probably sent off pretty soon. Seriously poor and mediocre player.

    By the way, Spain already had to live with an extemely dirty team in the quarter-finals, Paraguay made really poor viewing, they should have been left with 9 on the pitch by the end of it (Cardozo got a yellow, should have got 3, the keper should have been sent off etc),I hope Webb doesn't waver in showing the yellows and the reds to the likes of Van Bommel.

  • Comment number 11.

    A new winner, yes.

    It's also the first ever World Cup final to NOT feature one of these four teams; Argentina, Brazil, Germany and Italy.

    Which just goes to show how dominant those four have been.

  • Comment number 12.

    It is not the fault of the player that he has only been booked once. He will do whatever he can get away with. His job is to disrupt the play of the opposition. Maybe England could do with someone like him. Who would you rather have in your team Van Bommell or Gareth Barry?

  • Comment number 13.

    It's telling you have to look so far in the past for Van Bommel's best moments. His legs have gone and boy does it show - cannot believe he has not seen red in this tournament. The only player more cynical than him is his horrible sidekick De Jong; I remember from qualifying when he tried to half Barry Ferguson and he was at it again in his first few matches here. Van Bommel at least was once a player; De Jong is just a thug in an Oranje jersey. Players like him are what is wrong with the modern game; the only genuinely talented 'spoiling' midfielder I can think of is Essien; most others who play in that position are average players who were too short to make it at centre half.

  • Comment number 14.

    By disrupt did you mean kick 10 bells out of anyone who comes within kicking distance?

    Neutral on who i want to win, be nice either way but Van Bommel getting sent off/hurting himself in the process of another foul would make the day complete.

    Cmon Webb, sort him out good and proper!

  • Comment number 15.

    "However during the world cup he is fouled upon more often than he fouls others."

    Does that come from the same statistical page as "99% of people in the Uk like Marmite"?

  • Comment number 16.

    The quality of this final is clearly going to depend as much as anything else on Howard Webb. The situation where he has to decide whether to card von Bommel is near-certain to arise. Let's hope he gets it right.....

  • Comment number 17.

    I can only think of 2 reasons for Van Bommells inclusion in the Dutch side. The first one is the fact that the manager is his pa in law. The other is that they have noboby better for this role. The second is the most likely, and not so farfetched when you consider that we in England have the same problem. Since we lost Owen Hargreaves we have struggled here, Mr Barry is not really suitable for this role, in fact he has only ever been selected due to the fact he can kick with his left foot. After that our next optios are Nicky Butt or Phillip Neville. When you consider the age of some of the Dutch defenders too, it looks like they, like us , could be running out of top class youg players to replace their old guard.

  • Comment number 18.

    What a load of horse-manure by so many of the contributors tonight, blended with hypocrisy. Every week in the Premier League, in the Primera Division and Serie A tackles are flying in, cynical fouls are committed, on a regular basis, hoping the referee doesn't notice.
    What about the leg breaking incidents, and long term injuries that are being caused on a nearly weekly basis in the Premier League. Van Bommel is now being singled out for some nasty tackles; it is op to the referees to take action. He has had one of the best seasons of his career, and has been pivotal in Bayern Munich regaining the German championship, and is now proving his worth for the Dutch. Overall the Spanish have a more talented side, however have allready lost to a mediocre opponent (Switzerland), and have scored only seven goals, despite all the hoolahoop about David Villa. The Dutch too, have a talent for possession of the ball, more so than the Germans, so it might not be so easy for the Spanish. Apart from the semifinal they have not impressed a lot at this World Cup, so we'll wait and see how they break down a well-organised Dutch eleven.

  • Comment number 19.

    If Van Bommel was english all the moaning english on here would celebrate him as a hardman and praise his toughness. When the going gets tough the tough get going, that's exactly Van Bommel. When we play well you don't notice he's there, but when we don't play well he get's his foot in. He goes as far as the referee allows him to.

  • Comment number 20.

    I couldn't care less if he was English or from Mars. I can't stand dirty players, even if he plays for my team. Those are the ones that destroy careers of players. I want to see more protection for the flair players. You wonder why we have so many teams play defensive football? Full Credit to Spain as they have been playing the best football for the last two years.

    Hopefully if FIFA can get referees to send off a few players for awful tackles, we'll see more teams play like Spain, especially the ones in the Premier League.

  • Comment number 21.


    I agree. All this howling at Van Bommel is becoming pathetic. He's known for being an agitator and roughing up midfielders who get in his way, but he's also a great player. I've read he makes the worst fouls at the world cup. Now, really? Worse than Tioté against Elano? I don't think so.

    And, seriously now, Van Bommel commits a lot of fouls, anyone will agree, but he's the man doing most of the hard work. As we've all seen, Wesley Sneijder doesn't have to do a lot of defending; he's been played free, allowed to score, pass, shoot, etc. No wonder, he's been doing two men's work alone.

  • Comment number 22.

    Who will be doing the refereeing? All of the above makes me even more pro-Spain.

  • Comment number 23.

    A dirty player he may be but Van Bommel has arguably been Hollands player of the tournament (with Kuyt). Sneijder will get the headlines for his fluky goals (almost Lampardesque) but Van Bommel has been the one linking the midfield with attack and making that all important first pass out of defence.

  • Comment number 24.

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  • Comment number 25.

    It doesn't matter if Van Bommel turns up or not. Spain will win this at a canter.

    By the way, does anyone think Torres should start tomorrow? Pedro had a fabulous game against the Germans, but Villa looked anonymous in the lone-striker role. I think Torres should start.

  • Comment number 26.

    Van Bommel is a decent player but no more and imo is far to slow to have a major say in the game against Spain. He is also very lucky to have not missed a game through suspension, his cynical sly kicks to opponents most of the time are not even tackles. His cynical attempts to stop Spain may well make him a favourite to be the first to walk given the Spanish playes liking for surrounding the ref. In all the dutch games this far De Jong has done the spade work with Syneider being the creative midfielder, Van Bommel has contributed in a team that works very hard but may very well be a passenger against a midfield that rarely gives the ball away cheaply. I always thought Van Bommel was in the Dutch side for his vision and being able to find a orange shirt with his passes? i have rarely if ever seen him make a clean tackle.

  • Comment number 27.

    Lets put the record straight here shall we?

    Van Bommel is a truely great player. He certainly has abilty and this is shown by some of the goals he scores. True he may commit many fouls, some maybe more dangerous than others but that is his part of the game. He plays so that the likes of snejider and robben can play their game. People saying that he doesnt deserve to be in the team and he is a terrible footballer clearly have been of their pills for too long!!

  • Comment number 28.

    Anyone who thinks that van Bommel is the dirtiest player in Europe has never seen Felipe Melo and Christian Poulsen play for Juventus...

  • Comment number 29.

    Mr van Bommel is an invaluable member of his team. We Germans badly missed having someone physical in our line-up and yes football is still a physical game despite FIFA´s attempis to turn it into ballett.
    And anyone appalled at van Bommels tackling should look at a few videos of the "good" old days.

  • Comment number 30.

    markt23 Who would i rather have in midfield Barry or Van Bommel neither there both ten a penny workmanlike midfielders who do what any pro footballer should be able to do, break up attacks and give it simple. If players cannot do this they have no right making a living from the game. Its not as if either of them two have great movement. Average hard working midfielders the prem is over run with them which is why there are ten if not more poor sides in it.

  • Comment number 31.

    I think someone hasn't been watching many years of football including last seasons Champions League matches if they think Van Bommel has only been fouling in the World Cup.

    I wouldn't say he's a bad player but he's certainly a nasty piece of work who always looks to hurt nearly any player that come near him.

  • Comment number 32.

    Interesting article, but the 3 key Dutch are Sneijder,Kuyt & Robben.

    All 3 need to engage, respectively, Busquets,Ramos & Capdevilla as high up the pitch as possible. Why?

    Because these 3 start off & support the tica-taca trio nine times out of ten. If Iniesta/Xavi/Xabi don't get the ball in the final third, they will have to come back for it & their effectiveness will be greatly curtailed if so.

    Can't tell you if attacking Spain will work for certain, but I'm pretty sure the USA didn't beat them in the Confederations Cup by playing as deep as Portugal did & Germany were forced to in Muller's absence. Let them have the ball in the wrong areas & you will only hold out so long-if you force them to defend for spells from the first whistle, who's to say if they will be up to it or not?

    Let's hope we find out!

  • Comment number 33.

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  • Comment number 34.

    Number 25

    No-disaster if Spain start with Torres. He's all about speed over 10-15 yards & leaving the defender for dead with that pace.

    And he's shown no sign of that whatsoever in this World Cup. Can't tell you why it's gone, but gone it has for the moment & no way is a World Cup Final the right place to gamble on it returning-Villa is fine up front, but I'd start with Silva on the wing-Pepe is a show pony.

  • Comment number 35.

    Id like to think it will be decided by breathtaking Schneider, Van Persie, Xavi or Villa brilliance throughout the match.

    But have a sad feeling it may come down to the Netherlands 8 defensive based players, Spains endless stream of central midfielders, no width whatsoever, a lack of possession for the Netherlands, not forgetting busqeuts play acting and 2 goals from Spain in the 66th and 86th minutes.

    But I hope i'm wrong.

  • Comment number 36.


    What I can't stand for in today's game is the theatrical diving and play acting that has destroyed football. Yes Ozil, Iniesta, Xavi and Kaka are lovely to watch but lovely football wins you nothing. Look at Arsenal, little men running around flicking balls, incisive passing but who won the league last year Chelsea with grit and direct football.

    What the game has lost is HARD MEN with the likes of Souness, Roy Keane and Van Bommell.

    I absolutely love Van Bommell, getting stuck in, risking injury but wears his heart on his sleave. There hasn't been one tackle he has made that has merited a red card, he is an absolute artist in the tackle and at worst has committed a bookable offence. Together with De Jong they make some team.

    Anyone who criticises Van Bommell are the type of players who in Sunday league moan and moan and moan when they get a little kick on the ankles. The game is not about JUST skill it is about STRENGTH and POWER!!! A combination of both is what is required.

    England would have DREAMED to have someone like Van Bommell who cares so passionately about his country unlike some of the feckless individuals wearing the white shirt.

  • Comment number 37.

    Football is a man's game being ruined by divers like Cristiano Ronaldo, Drogba, Busquets, etc. Van Bommel is a man and a hell of a footballer. Criticisms= jealousy. Great tackler, great defender, great shot, great leader. GO HOLLAND!

  • Comment number 38.

    I've always admired Van Bommel personally: very good technically and has someone has said, plays with commitment and a desire to win. I'd much rather have a spoiler of his ilk than Busquets, whose antics to get Thiago Motta sent off single-handedly transformed an admiration of Barcelona in to a deep dislike.

    I think this article unfairly neglects De Jong as well: hugely underrated footballer in my opinion. In the Manchester derby (the one Paul Scholes won) I remember him being the standout player. What he may lack in technical ability he certainly makes up for in energy.

  • Comment number 39.

    All of this hate for van Bommel when Busquets is an equally despicable player. He may not foul opponents as often but he makes up for that with his ability to fall over when confronted by the lightest of breezes. That and his play acting to get opposition players sent off.

  • Comment number 40.

    "It doesn't matter if Van Bommel turns up or not. Spain will win this at a canter."


    Let's hope so. It would be a refreshing change from their other games at this WC.

  • Comment number 41.

    I really don't say this for any effect or provocation but I cannot think of a more dislikeable pair of teams for finallists probably even including Italia 90 - surprising as I would not have anticipated saying that about either these sides prior to the tournament.

    Sadly, there is a part of me which would like to see a crucial part of the final decided by Robben cheating, diving & sqeauling from a fair challenge or Capdevilia falling to the floor with the most minimal contact.

    Van Bommel has committed some truly atrocious challenges with an astonishing lack of punishment, but above all else combined - as others have mentioned Sergio Busqets, who I have seen over the last 18 months epitomise so much that has become vile and truly repugnant is many current footballers on field behaviour.

    Brazil Ivory Coast may have been the match where it was most prominent, but I think these two sides have been by far the biggest culprits overall, whilst some of the usual suspects seem not to have. It may require the biggest stage of all, with the billions watching around the world for imaginary card waving, injury feigning, complaining and histrionics that Busqets & Robben display to address some of the problems that litter the game.

    I do believe (particuarly in the long term) moments like Henry's handball, latterley Lampards goal are defining moments whether it be in supporters opinion, or those of the authorities. They occur in domestic games - even at the highest level - and are forgotten the next day, but the biggest stage exposes them.

    The football style of either side though effective, doesn't appeal to me but it's when it's supplememented with so much of the above and from so many players, it makes it an unnappealing final for me I'm afraid

  • Comment number 42.

    De Jong is the crucial element missing when discussing Van Bommel.

    In the Semis, Van Bommel looked tired and leggy (Look at the gap behind Van Bommel and De Zeuuw which allowed the Forlan equaliser)

    De Jong does his work quietly and unnoticed and complements/covers Van Bommel well.

    Having been 'rested' for the Semis, a recharged De Jong could be the answer (along with Van Bommel) to shutting Spain down.

    The other thing to consider is whether playing Elia on the LW will help with width.

    We all know Robben is the threat and Del Bosque will keep a close eye on him. But that leaves Hollands play constrivted when Robben is being kept quiet. Kuyt offers work rate and Van De Vaart extra creativity BUT Elia's speed might be a menace for the Spanish backline. The centre pairing of Puyol and Pique are slow and Ramos is often caught out of position.

    Really though, Holland's main focus should be not to give Spain too much respect (and time on the ball). Close them down early (Again two speedy wingers in Robben and Elia could help)

    And after all, they only need to emulate the Swiss to beat them! ;)

  • Comment number 43.

    I really don't say this for any effect or provocation but I cannot think of a more dislikeable pair of teams for finallists probably even including Italia 90 - surprising as I would not have anticipated saying that about either these sides prior to the tournament.


    I've been thinking the same thing, for all the reasons you laid out. To me this might as well be a Greece-Italy final, the style of play is that bad.

  • Comment number 44.

    Van Bommel etc's tackling offends me less than Ronaldo etc's diving. Nothing could be less sporting than using the referee to get a player removed from the pitch, or to get a goal unfairly.

    And in terms of the long-term future of soccer, Lampard's "goal" is the defining moment of this world cup. Blatter has been shown (again) to be totally out of touch. (No, I'm not English.)

  • Comment number 45.

    Van Bommel is a dirty player, no doubt about it. To describe him as a 'truely (sic) great player' (#27) is ridiculous. I'm glad most of the readers who love the game as it should be played agree.
    However he performs a key - if aesthetically very unpleasant - function for Holland and coupled with De Jong they might just stifle the Spanish creativity and cause a surprise.

  • Comment number 46.

    "Can't think of a more dislikeable pair of teams in the finals"?

    What about the last World Cup. Aging France against negative Italy. Remember anything besides the headbutt? Grazi Materazzi and Merci monsieur Zidane. I believe I can recall making myself a cuppa just before the half.;)

    Spain and Netherlands are two attacking teams. The World Cup will go to someone new and both teams have a rich history finally deserving of recognition.

    Now let's just hope Van Bommel has been practicing his trash talk. If he gets one of those sensetive Spaniards sent off, it will be more even stevens!

  • Comment number 47.

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  • Comment number 48.

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  • Comment number 49.

    To all overseas neighbours from England (I am from Holland). Mark van Bommel is...Dutch, not German :P.

    Today it's about winning. Nothing else.

  • Comment number 50.

    Van Bommel is a hell of a player, I well remember how he almost single handedly knocked Real Madrid out of the Champions' League a couple of seasons ago, leading Bayern to a famous comeback at the Bernabeu. He was also crucial in Barcelona's 2006 Champions' League campaign, and has been one of Holland's key players in this World Cup. It's nice to see him get some well deserved credit.

  • Comment number 51.

    Reliable Mark Van Bommel has been a pillar of strength in his team's setup. The Dutchman looks capable of carrying on for some more years at the top level. He will have a vital role to play in the Dutch mission tonight. Best wishes to him and to his team mates.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 52.

    There appears to be a general consensus of 'having a go' at van Bommel. This is spectacularly unfair and attacking Robben for so called diving is even worse. Robben was fouled statistically 8 times against Brazil. He was kicked about double that amount, particularly by Bastos, Melo and Gilberto. Even Robinho. Van Bommel, granted has thrown in a few tackles, some of them mistimed and ugly-looking, but he is also in control of the midfield in most games, a good passer of the ball and a player who determines the style and speed of game. He is hugely important, like Roy Keane, Patrick Viera and Dunga used to be.

    Holland quite simply are worthy finalists as they have won all their games! It's easy to challenge the finalist when England played ridiculously bad and could have done with all the players in this comment.

    So called gracious loosers, where are they?

  • Comment number 53.

    Football is NOT running but making sure the BALL runs. It`s easier to send the ball to a certain place then go with it yourself! That is what nextstars aims to do with players released from the Premier Academy League.

  • Comment number 54.

    markt 23 - You are off-line with your 2 reasons why Van Bommel is in the team. He is there as he is the best player in Holland to do the job he does, he is not there because of his good looks, or that his father-in-law is the boss, or because he likes to travel. He did not feature in Van Basten's teams because Marco wanted to play a more flowing type of football, without destroyers in the midfield, but that rarely brings a World Cup victory. I agree that Van Bommel appears very lucky not to have been red carded against Uruguay and how he has escaped being booked for some of his dangerous tackles, is a mystery. It was ironic that his only yellow card was for protesting to the referee over time being played.
    If Holland start worrying about the Spanish danger-men then they may as well not turn up, but if they are positive, not afraid, keep men forward (unlike Germany) and do not give the ball away (like Germany) and play their own game then they can spring a surprise. The secret is to attack Ramos, the weak link at the back, and the free kicks and opportunities will come.

  • Comment number 55.

    Folks, some excellent commments. It is blindingly obvious that Van Bommel is a marmite character, a man who most definitely divides opinion.

    Let me ask you this - if you are playing Spain and need to stop their passing game so that you actually have some time with the football is having Van Bommel in your side an asset or not?

  • Comment number 56.

    Woah, I'm so excited about the World Cup final, I've overloaded my comments with an extra mmmmmmmmmm. Crazy

  • Comment number 57.

    Paul - Maybe. It's bit like in the NFL when there are specific sqaud members that are there to inflict damage on the opponent and break up play. You could argue he is one of the best in this position in the World along with Mascherano. On the other hand, the tackles are shocking and we have to ask about the challenges he has gotten away with. Fair enough, if you want to tackle dangerously then fine, but you should be punished for this game as its in the rules. He hasnt (Yet).

  • Comment number 58.

    De Jong is the key.

    Holland to win.

  • Comment number 59.

    Where is Van Nostrilboy?

  • Comment number 60.

    Bobbel for a red card anyone? I hope not but I also hope that the world cup is won by flair and positive football and not cynical fouls by players that have to resort to playing the man and not the ball. The world wants to see attractive, flair football and not negative, defensive, fouling tactics and then direct on counter...a la Chelsea and Inter Milan..COME ON SPAIN!!!!

  • Comment number 61.

    To my opinion a lot of the comments about Van Bommel are ridicule. Yes he is a player that makes dirty tackles, tries to manipulate umpires and can be very annoying in is behaviour.
    BUT those caracteristics make him a winner! Ask all the players he played with and they all would say they want him on their team.

    And to be fair the tackles I have seen made by Gilberto Silva, Felipe Melo, Juan and some by Mascheranno have been much worse than those of Van Bommel.

    He is the player you need to (hopefully) become worldchampion!

  • Comment number 62.

    I think most of the pro- van Bommel posters are missing the point over why us anti- vB's don't like him. It is not that his challenges are dangerous; they are not, he is about as hard as an underbaked cupcake: it is that his challenges are cynical. They are not designed to win the ball, they are designed to break up a good move by the other team. As a neutral watching this world cup, I want to see good moves ending with a shot on goal. And I'll accept honest, but flawed attempts to win the ball. That's why it's so amazing to me that refs haven't yet sorted van Bommel out, because I was sure that the laws of the game differentiated between attempted tackles and deliberate fouls. I think he'll walk in the final (probably for nothing) because any ref who has done his research will know what he is all about and punish him early.

  • Comment number 63.

    As usual FIFA mess up and dictate decisions that rule against fair play...
    Teams like Spain that committed the least fouls and received the least yellow cards had no benefit out of it, while teams loaded with cards like Holland and Germany saw them disappear after the quarter finals...

    I heard Paul the octopus has predicted Howard Webb will be showing Van Bommel his yellow early on the game...

  • Comment number 64.

    I am getting a little fed up with people saying that Spain play the game "the way it should be played". The object of the game is to score more goals than your opponents. Keeping hold of the ball does increase the chances of doing this, but it is no guarantee.

  • Comment number 65.

    I can't believe those who criticise the divers and play actors more than van Bommel. I want to see diving wiped out of the game as much as anyone else but surely someone who spends 90 minutes kicking the opposition is worse. It's only a matter of time before he seriously injures someone. In virtually every game I've seen van Bommel play in the Champions League or for the Netherlands he has committed foul after foul. That he gets away with it just highlights how far refereeing standards have fallen. It's that sort of player that we don't need in the game. You can be an effective defensive midfielder without fouling constantly. Just look at the likes of Gilberto Silva or Makalele as examples.

  • Comment number 66.

    I think it's a bit ironic that van Bommel gets singled out here. I don't doubt he's a hacker and a thoroughly nasty character, but maybe his biggest weakness is, he's obvious about it. A good example is Ramos, who stamped on Schweinsteiger's ankle in the previous game, yet escaped with nothing. I thought it was blatant, deliberate, and cynical. Then there's Poyul and Pique. One only has watch this tournament to realise there's something not right in terms of integrity of officiating. The pair of them have been disgraceful, and Pique's arm pull should have had a red card, and game suspension, final or not.

    Frankly i don't get this Spain are wonderful thing. They're not. They're just as dirty as the Netherlands can be, even more so as divers, constantly waving imaginary cards in the official's face, trying to get fellow professionals sent off. For me, this is just as bad as someone as obvious and clumsy as van Bommel.

    I don't really care who wins today. The good game was last night, and relatively free of the blatant cheating we've seen in other games in this tournament. This game is the "triesman" game, and will be full of the worst excesses of football in the 21st century. Howard Webb, if he is the ref i think people hope he is, will have the courage to reduce both sides to less than 11 men if bad fouls, diving, and imaginary card waving take place. (as they surely will be) I'd have no problem seeing both sides reduced to 10,9,8. etc men, because we might actually get football as a result.

    Villa, van Bommel, Ramos, Schneider, Iniesta, Poyul, Pique, Van Persie, etc, have all proved they're incapable of playing a fair game, and until they're booked and EJECTED from the tournament when they commit the worst of these acts, the farce will continue. (I thought Villa escaping the eye gouge was the clearest example of the "treisman" protocol alive and well at the WC. He should have been sent home in disgrace, good football skills or not.)

    Van Bommel is a bad one, to be sure, but he's certainly not on his own.

  • Comment number 67.

    I backed Spain from day one but the truth is they have dominated many games but just not sparkled. 7 goals in 6 games says it all really. Maybe it's the 'absence' of Torres?

    I think this article is right on the money. There is no better defensive midfield pairing in this WC than Van Bommel and De Jong. And if you are ever going to take the sting out of this Spanish team then that's the recipe......a couple of quality DMs getting about the Alonso/Xavi/Iniesta triumvirate.

    Throw in the flair potential of Sneijder and Robben and I have a sneaking feeling that the Dutch might just win it.

    Never would have said this at the start of the tournament but I think, of all teams, the Dutch are set-up best to beat Spain.

  • Comment number 68.

    I fail to understand why my comment has been referred. Is is because i haven't followed the expected flow, and prayed at the alter of all things Spanish, or is it because i dared to compare the cynicism that van Bommel is capable of, with the cynicism so equally obvious among so many players in the Spanish team?

    I used no bad language, racism, bigotry, etc...

    It's frankly pathetic.

  • Comment number 69.

    To all those who are sanctimoniously moaning about Van Bommel (who is a actually a technically capable player) being a dirty player who is out to "hurt" opposition players, can you name one single player who has been taken off the field injured and substituted because a Van Bommel foul in this WC? Just one will do.

  • Comment number 70.

    To all those who are sanctimoniously moaning about Van Bommel (who is a actually a technically capable player) being a dirty player who is out to "hurt" opposition players, can you name one single player who has been taken off the field injured and substituted because of a Van Bommel foul in this WC? Just one will do.

  • Comment number 71.

    van bommel played for barça in the paris final against arsenal & was dropped at 1/2 time for....iniesta. he never regained his place. dont fear for xavi, xabi, andres, busi & co., fear for van bommel. 'our' boys know how to take care of themselves AND exploit his major technical failings & lack of speed. but, he does have a great shot

  • Comment number 72.

    Wow now we are at the final and fifa and their cronies are laughing all the way to the bank. These people are trying to force mandela to attend the final! I think he is much smarter than that! Local venders forced of their pitch, fishermen denied a living, girls arrested for wearing the wrong colour mini skirts( but they looked good anyway and the beer is ok) I think Mandela must come up with a creative taxation solution to equalise the equity created by the world cup. After all what did SA get out of this. By the way quodos to paul at least he has the guts to say it is as it is. Hope he does not become sotong goring! Don't forget there is no such a thing as a free lunch. Cheers

  • Comment number 73.

    12. At 6:42pm on 10 Jul 2010, markt23 wrote:

    "It is not the fault of the player that he has only been booked once. He will do whatever he can get away with. His job is to disrupt the play of the opposition."

    Good point there. And 18 makes a good post too.

    Van Bommel is being unfairly picked on here. I'm not denying that he makes lots of cynical dirty challenges, but his role in the side is to be a destroyer; and agitator. He's there to break up the opposition play and i'd dare say anyone criticising here is a hypocrite. Anyone remember '66? Watch Nobby Stiles's performance on Eusebio. More recently players like Keane, Gattuso, Mascherano and FELIPE MELO to name but a few. All capable to cynical and dirty fouls, but thats part of the game. It adds to it and frown as you may but i hate the style of play of the Spaniards and their so called 'tiki taka'. I never manage to last a game as i either fall asleep or slip in to a mild coma. They have been dull watching and like him or loathe him, i am sure Van Bommel will make the game more interesting tonight.

  • Comment number 74.

    Nigel de jong does not lack technical ability.

    Managers love the tough tackling central midfielder. Real Madrid started dipping after they sold off Makelele, Arsenal allowed Viera and G. Silva to leave and have been terrible since then. United won the C. league afte acquiring Hargreaves. barcelona play yaya Toure and Keita behind Xavi and Iniesta.
    You need players to break up play if you are going to win anything.and the opposition won't love that guy. tackling isn't easy, you need to get your hands(or legs) a little dirty to win back the ball from a talented player, so really, stop the moaning.

  • Comment number 75.

    Van bommel is a quality player that has so much experience, he knows when and were to tackle players that will not result in a booking u can see in his past matches he's not been booked for tackles, the only booking he got came in the semi-final for kicking the ball away i think he knows spanish football very well, that's alone will make him (van bommel) very crushial for Netherland tonight, i just home they'll win

  • Comment number 76.

    Well I suppose you have to call Van Bommel a tough tackling player, simply because many of his fouls are considered tackles by referees!

    The guy is a dirty player, absolute scum and shouldn't be allowed to play football. I know there are other players who are dirty but they actually get punished for it unlike Van Bommel. He actually admits he talks to refs asking them how they are about their family etc, basically creating a bias from the ref who is going to think twice about booking a player who has been kind to him.

  • Comment number 77.

    I dont understand people saying Van Bommel is a great at making tackles, imo he cannot tackle at all this is not to say he has not done a good job for Holland. He used to be a player in the mould of Alonso with good vision and able to pick a pass but now stops the opposition by being sly and cynical which is not a hardman but more the fact that he is slow and struggles against top class midfield players. Hardmen tackle fairly but hard and will mistime some challenges but most times make a genuine attempt at playing the ball Van Bommel hardly ever plays the ball when making a tackle but blatantly stops the opponent when he realises his team may be in trouble. Holland deserve to be in the final and have a good chance of winning and all there players deserve credit for the fantastic tournament they are having but would Holland have missed Van Bommel in the way they would syneider? imo they could play without Van Bommel although he has done a good job without it making a big difference. The creative players in the Dutch team are far more important and will have far more of a influence on the game than Mark Van Bommel. He may have had a decent tournament but i just dont see were the irreplacable Van Bommel has come from.

  • Comment number 78.

    According to statistics in todays paper Van Bommel has made 31 tackles with a success rate of 83.87%, and made 309 passes with a success rate of 89.25%. That would indicate that he has had a good tournament. He has been booked once, so has the much praised Xavi Alonso.

  • Comment number 79.

    De Jong is a freaking pit-bull.

    All season in the Prem he was atrocious. More of the same at the WC.

  • Comment number 80.

    Valente the Holland Lop Psychic Bunny Predicts a Netherlands win in the World Cup Final over Spain. Move over Paul the Octopus, and Mani the Parrot; Valente the Bunny is giving his psychic prediction with his Victory Dance. Celebrate Good Times...Come on !!!

  • Comment number 81.

    Fifa stats - Van Bommel the victim of 19 fouls, the perpetrator of 12.

  • Comment number 82.

    Van Brommel - dirtiest player of the entire tournament - it will just serve himself right if he gets himself red carded for any more of his aggravating, injurious fouls!

  • Comment number 83.

    Shame on you BBC...we would have had a les bias commentary if we used the Spanish TV voice over...disgusting...anyway...hope the Dutch win now!

  • Comment number 84.

    Not only are the England Team Rubbish...but so are the officials...PATHETIC!

  • Comment number 85.

    Alan Jansen! How can you make a statement like "if the Dutch had won it would have been bad for football" Outrageous! They have possibly played the best football the whole world cup...not to mention that they are one of the most unlucky teams not to have won the world cup...and you played for SCOTLAND who did what! my case...comments like that should be are showing how little you know about "TOTAL FOOTBALL" lol

  • Comment number 86.

    I think I underdid my vitriol to either side in #41 after what I've just seen.

    For any Dutch fan to complain about decisions is too nonsensical for words.

    Should've been down to 9 men at H/T and 7 men by the time the goal was scored.

  • Comment number 87.

    Dougie - I think Alan Hansen (Alan Jansen may have been his nickname) - won the odd European Cup, League Title, Fa Cup, League Cup & Super Cup in his time.

    You're right though - apart from all those trophies, not a lot else.

  • Comment number 88.

    Anyone still want to defend van Bommel? Booked early on for a crude challenge, then penalised for a further 3 or 4 fouls as well as stamping on Iniesta which Webb missed. How on earth he managed to stay on the pitch only Webb will know.

    The Dutch shamed football with their approach tonight. Could easily have ended the game with 7 players.

  • Comment number 89.

    Douglas, to use the phrase 'total football' when talking about the current Dutch team is utterly absurd. Cruyff and co will have been shocked by today's performance. You don't need to know much about total football to conclude that it was glaringly absent in the Dutch play. Hansen's comment was entirely fair and you don't need to bring in the fact that he is Scottish into it.
    Also, there's nothing 'biased' about the BBC commentary, obviously as neutral observers they wanted the team that played the best football to win, which was Spain. I know you are feeling bitter right now, but you would do well to acknowledge this.
    Likewise blaming the officials for the defeat doesn't work.

  • Comment number 90.

    Holland were an absolute joke, lucky to finish the game with 8 players nevermind 11.
    Football for me has become a farce. Yes be physical all day, we all love a good tackle but theres a line. At the same time theres players waving hands at refs asking for cards which is a disgrace, and players constantly trying to con the ref.
    Footballers are lacking in integrity and respect, and its embarrasing to watch.

  • Comment number 91.

    Pipe down douglas you clown

  • Comment number 92.

    Gubby i think your post 41 just about sums the two sides up Spanish and Dutch apart i cannot see how anybody can possibly enjoy the Spain teams antics or the clogging of the Dutch. High stakes sure but i dont see kids falling in love with football based on these two sides. Spain are capable of producing moments of magic with the Dutch also having some gifted footballers but until games in the short term finish eight v eight football will lose many fans to other sports. The constant cheating getting players sent off surrounding the ref imaginery card waving and diving should be punished with a straight red card and until this happens i dont see myself really enjoying international football. As somebody who loves football and dont support any national team i was looking forward to some great football at the World Cup, sadly apart from a few goals the win at all costs attitude has taken over with the cream rises to the top no longer the given it should be. Well done Spain who play football i respect but the antics of most of your players are not going to win you any fans outside of Spain.

  • Comment number 93.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 94.

    Having been watching football for 44 years..... Spain played to win, Holland played to spoil.... they were lucky to end the 120 minutes with 10 players..... the best TEAM of the whole world cup won.... great control, great defence, unlucky not to score a shed load of goals..... for all you EPL fans out there, England will NEVER win the Euro Cup or the World Cup playing the style that makes the EPL exciting.... too many average teams, players, with a lot of relativelely good foreigners around them... having said that, look at the 2 squads in the WC Final, how many EPL players in those squads? And which teams did they come from?..... LIVERPOOL and EVERTON..... funny old world. isn't it!

  • Comment number 95.

    BTW, I live in Spain, am Scottish, and think the EPL is great but VERY limited.... the Spanish Prem League is TECHNICALLY so much better.... 10 years of watching!

  • Comment number 96.

    Thought so, the bloggers who have no idea about REAL football have gone to bed!

  • Comment number 97.

    So unbelievably disappointed that the REAL foootball Fans have disapeared... But then, what would you expect, the EPL is starting again in 4 weeks, WORLD CLASS players, GREAT FOOTBALL..... BULLSHIT!!!

  • Comment number 98.

    Webb did do a bad game. He did punish Van Bommel, but didn't punish iniesta for his schwalbes. Not seeing a corner or a foul on Elia, I can understand that. But don't punish a foul on Iniesta and at the same time don't give him yellow when the ball is away is awfull.
    So all the people who say Van bommel has to be punished by webb, congratulations he did punish whole Holland and didn't punish Iniesta. Thank you Webb.

  • Comment number 99.

    My conclusion that Heitinga wouldn't get red, when Iniesta had yellow, what he deserved. Because Iniesta wouldn't dare to make a schwalbe.

  • Comment number 100.

    zzzz yawn what? oh. snore.


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