July 06, 2010

For those few of you are interested, today's semifinalists, Holland and Uruguay, have played once before in the World Cup, all the way back in 1974. At the time, Uruguay was a perennial contender, having made the semifinals four years earlier, but had gone through a prolonged period of stagnancy, dating back to its previous championship a quarter century earlier. In short, they were similar to Argentina was in this World Cup: a team that was usually to be reckoned with, but with its glory years long behind it (I believe they sent the oldest team to that tournament).

Their opponents, Holland, was the team that everybody was looking forward to watching, with the best player in the world at the time, Johann Cruyff, and a supporting cast much to be envied (Neeskens, Rep, Rensenbrink, Surrbier, etc.). But they hadn't played in the World Cup recently, and no one knew exactly how they would handle the Big Time when they stepped onto the field against Uruguay. The highlights below of their 2-0 victory hardly do justice to their dominance:

The score could have easily been 6-0, and was the first sign that year the balance of power was shifting in the sport. Uruguay was quickly eliminated in 1974, and thereafter disappeared from the ranks of the sport's powers, at least until this year.

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