I have had to calm down a little bit after that "match." Complete sham. Awful officiating and cynical, dirty play. It was a let down considering the talent present on both teams. I have respected Figo for years for his playing ability, even overlooking his role in the on-pitch indiscretions in the dying moments of the Euro 2000 semi-final against France. Today, he didn't do his talent justice.
Being born in Holland and having lived there for a chunk of change, I am biased. However, I am fully aware that the Dutch have never been strangers to cynicism (Robben going for gold in the high dive), never been strangers to a little dirty play (Bergkamp's stamp on some Brazilian's leg during the '98 WC), or ill will (Rikjaard spitting on Voller), but they really let themselves down today. As for Heitinga taking the ball as opposed to returning it to Portugal, I was reminded of the hell Kanu caught for a similar action when playing with Arsenal. Specifically what I remember is Marc Overmar's role in the whole affair and how he got off with it.
As for the officiating – taking control of the match is calling fouls and not calling dives to the best of your ability, early in the game. You change the whole fabric of a game by issuing early cards. Now players become targets for provocation. Players become victim to the simulations of other players. Players get frustrated. It changes the tempo and the movement.
Marco Van Basten supposedly did everything he could to stop the Dutch team from self-destructing by encouraging unity and removing negative elements that disrupt the camp. Funny how a rift between him and Ruud Van Nistelrooy could have ended up costing the Dutch the tournament.
Basically, their midfield was a letdown. Not overly creative, not overly productive, not particularly industrious – just bland. Little was created form the midfield, most attacking plays were set up from fullbacks passing to the forward wingers, and most defense was played by the back four. Dirk Kuyt was uninspiring, though admittedly hard working, but his service was mince. He was constantly dropping back to midfield to receive the ball. That is unacceptable for a solo center forward to have to do.
For all the disruptive energy that the Kluiverts, Davids, Seedorf's and Stam's cause, they could still get the Dutch into the semis of whatever tournament they were in (2002 not withstanding)
My man Edgar Davids should have been in that midfield.