Huge Unofficial Football World Championships clashes are coming thick and fast at the moment as the World Cup in South Africa races towards its conclusion. Uruguay vs the Netherlands is yet another must-see UFWC / WC double header, with the South American challengers taking on one of the greatest champions the UFWC has ever seen in a battle to reach the World Cup finals, where a unified unofficial / official title will be up for grabs.
We know all about the Netherlands now: Unofficial Football World Champions; a record-equalling 20 UFWC matches unbeaten; 4th in the UFWC all-time rankings; 48 UFWC wins, more than any other side left in the World Cup; the only side to win every game at this World Cup, and they knocked out Brazil…
The Dutch have moved efficiently and impressively through this tournament, and are looking fairly formidable. Fans of the UFWC aren’t particularly surprised to see the unofficial champions do so well, but the rest of the world is only just getting used to it. And there seems to have been a surge of optimism among Dutch fans – ‘Hup Holland Hup!’ has been the number one trending topic on Twitter recently.
Let’s clear up the thing about the name: The Netherlands is often referred to as Holland. In fact, North Holland (containing Amsterdam) and South Holland (containing The Hague and Rotterdam) are only two of twelve provinces that make up the Netherlands, and ‘Holland’ represents only around 15% of the area of the country. Many of the players, including Wesley Sneijder (Utrecht) and Arjen Robben (Groningen) are not from Holland. So referring to the Netherlands as Holland is technically incorrect – a bit like calling the UK England – although our Dutch correspondents tell us they don’t particularly mind.
As for Uruguay, they have reached the World Cup semi finals via an arguably easier route, most recently surviving an incredible climax to their quarter final match against Ghana to progress on penalties. The Uruguayans are relatively recent holders of the UFWC title, having become unofficial champions with a 2-0 win over Romania in June 2006. They held the title for 6 matches on that occasion, and have won 16 UFWC title matches in total, placing them 12th in the all-time rankings.
The Uruguayans will be without injured midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro, and suspended pair Jorge Fucile and Luis Suarez for the game. The latter, of course, misses out due to his amazing last-gasp handball that saved the quarter final game for his country. Captain Diego Lugano is also doubful for the game with a knee problem.
The Netherlands have Gregory van der Wiel and Nigel de Jong missing through suspension.
As far as the form guide goes, Uruguay and the Netherlands haven’t played each other for 30 years – the Uruguayans won 2-0 in Montevideo in 1980. The last time the two sides met in the UFWC was actually at a World Cup finals, in 1974 – it ended in a 2-0 win for the Netherlands. Coincidentally, current Uruguay striker Diego Forlan’s father Pablo played in that game.
The possible implications of this game are huge. Firstly, the winner will be UFWC champions. Secondly, they will progress to the World Cup final, where they will face either Germany or Spain. Whatever happens, the World Cup final is now destined to be a UFWC / WC unification match, with the winners walking away as both unofficial and official champions.
Can the Netherlands hold onto their title for the duration and also take the official title? Will Uruguay snatch the title, and go on to be undisputed champs? Or will Germany or Spain step in to win the UFWC / WC double header? Keep watching, because over the next few days we’ll find out the answer.