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Since when did Germany and Holland swap shirts?

The typical characteristics of a German team: Efficient, dull, ‘big tournament team’, lucky, hard-working.

The typical characteristics of a Dutch team: Flamboyant, creative, Total football, counter attack specialists.

Many would argue that this cliched assessment of these great rivals bares much truth. How often do you hear people talk about “those fluky Germans” or how they “just love to watch Holland”. Well, if this is your first World Cup, then you may be slightly befuzzled; Isn’t it the other way round?

Yes, suring this tournament Germany have become the team to watch. If they were Brazil or, indeed, the Netherlands, everyone would be banging on about Samba football or Total football. A flurry of attacking performances has seen them smash home four goals in three of the five games played. No mean feat by any means.

June 13, 2010 - Durban, South Africa - epa02198856 German midfielder Piotr Trochowski (C) warms up during a training session at the Moses Mabida stadium, Durban, South Africa, 12 June 2010. Germany will start their FIFA 2010 World Cup campaign on 13 June when they take on Australia in their opening match.

The deployment of youth has attracted much respect, with the likes of Ozil, Schweinsteiger and Muller complementing the experience of the mighty Klose. They have become experts in the counter attack, taking first England and then Argentina to the cleaners as they went in search of an equaliser. The speed in which they take the ball from their own box to the oppositon area is electrifying, with the majority of their goals in South Africa coming from inside the penalty area. 

Of course, it would all great if it wasn’t for the fact that they remain Germany (well sort of, half their team is foreign… cheating Germans).

Holland, meanwhile, have ditched style for substance, and are all the better for it. While possessing some of the best players in the world, they are not the team of 1974 or 1978, the last time they reached the final. That side was blessed with the rare ability to combine both style and substance to great effect – like Germany 2010. Instead, the Dutch have realised that sometimes you have to grind out results in order to succeed as opposed to showcasing their undoubted skill.

Dirk Kuyt / Mark Van Bommel and Arjen Robben Celebrate Victory after final whistle Holland World Cup 2010 Holland V Brazil (2-1) 02/07/10 Quarter Finals Port Elizabeth FIFA World Cup 2010 Photo Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

SInce 1978, Holland have failed to qualify on three occasions, and have reached the semi-final just once. This has been their most successful tournament in 32 years, but has come at the expense of playing some eye-catching football. Indeed, the most colourful aspect of their time here has been a shirt which wouldn’t look out of place at a rave. But who are we to tell them how to play football when they are in a position the likes of England, France and Italy could only dream.

They’ve also been blessed with their fair share of luck, with the equaliser against Brazil arriving thanks to a rare defensive mix-up from the South Americans, while last night the crucial second goal took a couple of deflections and a debatable offside to nose them in front. But, as those fluky Germans will testify, luck is required if you are to win the World Cup.

In fact, didn’t Joachim Low’s side get a slice of good fortune in their win against England? Something concerning a disallowed goal? Frank Lampard? Just goes to show, no matter how much Germany change their style of football, they will always be the luckiest team in the competition.

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