Why is the Dutch "Clockwork Orange" such a remembered team?
The Dutch Clockwork Orange is probably one of the few runners-up that are still remembered today.
In football, there is a phrase that says that "no one remembers the seconds". In general, this phrase applies in almost all cases, except in one, the runner-up of the Netherlands in 1974.
For those people who are fans of literature, the name "a clockwork orange" surely reminds them of the book written by Anthony Burgess or the film directed by Stanley Kubrick. However, it is undeniable that every football fan who hears that name thinks of the Dutch National Team.
By 1970, the Netherlands was a country without much footballing power. It was a weak national team, which was 36 years without playing the World Cup. But everything changed with three-time European champion Ajax and the emergence of one of the best footballers in history, Johan Cruyff. Thanks to these new players, the Dutch team managed to qualify for the 1974 World Cup in Germany, after converting 24 goals in 6 games during the European qualifiers.
And when the World Cup started, the public was completely stunned by Dutch football. This team was a pioneer of a game system that consisted of no player having a defined position, but instead, they were occupied by another teammate, depending on the circumstances of the match. All the players defended and attacked, made precise passes, made constant pressure and played football which was very nice to watch. It was a predecessor of Guardiola's "Tiki-Taka". The coach Rinus Michels was the orchestrator of this symphony while Johan Cruyff was the most attractive melody. The rest of the symphony was made up of players such as great players such as Johan Neeskens, Johnny Rep, Rob Ressenbrink, Ruud Krol and goalkeeper Jan Jongbloeed.
The orange jerseys and that "mechanized" style of play gave rise to the nickname Clockwork Orange. In the World Cup group stage, they easily beat Uruguay, drew 0-0 against Sweden and then thrashed Bulgaria 4-1. What made them look like a football-making machines was the second phase of that World Cup. Cruyff and his teammates humiliated Argentina 4-0, then beat Democratic Germany 2-0 and even beat defending World champion Brazil 2-0.
In the Final, they were able to get ahead on the scoreboard against Federal Germany, after the first half without any problems. It seemed that the Netherlands would be the new champion thanks to Neeskens' goal, but in the second half, everything changed. Goals from Gerd Müller and Paul Breitner gave Germany their second World Cup. Still, the Netherlands is the only team in football history that is remembered and praised despite coming second in that competition.
Unfortunately, in the 1978 World Cup, the Netherlands lost the final again but this time against Argentina (Johan Cruyff did not play that tournament).