'We won't play like the Germans – we are not afraid of Spain,' says Kuyt

If the Dutch team hotel in Sandton felt a little under siege yesterday then that was understandable given that on Sunday they face one of the most awe-inspiring football teams in modern times. But it was Dirk Kuyt who led the way ahead of the World Cup final against Spain by telling the world: We are not afraid.

In fact, Kuyt went one better with a dig at the beaten semi-finalists Germany when he said that if Holland play like the Germans had against Spain on Wednesday night they would definitely lose. The Dutch team watched the game and saw in their old enemies a lack of invention and ambition against Spain; they will not make the same mistakes themselves.

The Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk did his best to look at ease yesterday, but that his players and the Dutch football federation are surprised to have got this far is evident by the fact that they had to move hotel on Wednesday, because they had not booked their own to the final.

It was left to Kuyt yesterday to explain why his team need not fear the European champions, whose domination of Germany in Durban was so complete. Kuyt said that, watching on television, "you could see the Germans were afraid of Spain".

He added: "They didn't try to attack. We are going to attack and then you will see weaknesses coming to the surface. If you play like the Germans you are definitely going to lose. We don't have players who are afraid and we don't have players who feel small against the big opponents. There is respect for Spain but not fear."

There is still a major debate in Holland about whether Van Marwijk will take the option the purists of Dutch football would prefer and play just one holding midfielder – Mark van Bommel – to give Rafael van der Vaart a start. Those who claim to be the defenders of the attacking, cavalier creed of the 1970s teams think that two defensive midfielders is excessively negative, and Holland's traditions demand that Van der Vaart plays.

The pragmatists, of which Van Marwijk is one, believe that Holland need a firmer base from which to build. That will mean that Manchester City's Nigel de Jong coming back into the team after suspension in place of Demy de Zeeuw, who was replaced by Van der Vaart at half-time of the semi-final.

Yesterday, Van Marwijk said that the unity of his squad – an issue in the past – had never been in doubt. For those Dutch journalists who knew Van Marwijk, 58, as a player, that always provokes a smile because they remember him as a rebel. He was a talented left-winger who often argued with coaches and referees and was restricted to one international cap because of the competition in the squad and bad luck with injuries.

Like Fabio Capello, the Dutch coach also took his side away to Austria for a pre-season training camp to which he also invited – unlike Capello – the players' families. "I think that was a very good move," Van Marwijk said. "The atmosphere in the team was good from the first day and it is still good. That is a process [that has developed over] the last two years."

Even so the journalists and the players still talk fondly of the Marco van Basten team that cut a swathe through Euro 2008, beating Italy, France and Romania before they crashed out to Russia in the first knockout round. But this Dutch team is more stubborn. When Van Marwijk was asked to pick out the crucial moment of the tournament he did not chose the win over Brazil but those victories over Japan and Slovakia.

"I think to get that win against Japan meant then we had six points and we were almost sure of being in the next round," he said. "The game against Slovakia [was crucial] because everybody thought it would be easy to win the game but a lot of times in the past it happened that we went home after the early rounds."

That might well have been Van Marwijk's reminder that not everything was perfect under Van Basten. The Dutch coach seems a lot less laid-back than his fellow countrymen and he bristled at an inquiry as to whether he was a better coach than he was a player. If Holland win on Sunday there will be no more questions like that: Van Marwijk will take his place at the very top of the table ahead of all the great coaches from his country.

Kuyt's key point was that while the Dutch team is very rarely weak, this time they have demonstrated an extra edge. "In every tournament we have played we have shown we have quality," he said. "In this tournament we have shown we have more than quality. We also have belief. We believe we can beat every opponent. Against Brazil we were 1-0 down but we still had the belief we could win.

"Against Uruguay we were 1-0 up and they equalised. Sometimes in tournaments before now we would have lost it at that point. This time we stayed focused. We believed in our own quality. We kept our positions. In the second-half we showed only one team deserved to win."

Unusually for the Dutch they will not be such popular winners if they beat Spain on Sunday. Van Marwijk acknowledged at one point that the Spanish were probably "the best in the world" but in the next breath he asserted Holland's independence: "Maybe Spain is influenced by Barça and Barça is influenced by Johan Cruyff and Rinus Michels. That's a big compliment for Dutch football. But I don't think like that. We respect Spain but we want to do it our way."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
This weekend's 'Big Hero 6' by Disney Animation Studios
arts + ents
News
i100
News
Budapest, 1989. Sleepware and panties.
newsDavid Hlynsky's images of Soviet Union shop windows shine a light on our consumerist culture
Arts and Entertainment
Eleanor Catton has hit back after being accused of 'treachery' for criticising the government.
books
News
In humans, the ability to regulate the expression of genes through thoughts alone could open up an entirely new avenue for medicine.
science
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee