'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
Sheeran arrives at the 56th annual Grammy Awards earlier this year
musicYes, that would be Ed Sheeran, according to the BBC
Arts and Entertainment
AKB48 perform during one of their daily concerts at Tokyo’s Akihabara theatre
musicJapan's AKB48 are one of the world’s most-successful pop acts
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
News
The headstone of jazz great Miles Davis at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York
news
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Eminem's daughter Hailie has graduated from high school
music
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Caption competition
Caption competition

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

Meet Japan's AKB48

Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor