Let misquote JosÃ© Mourinho then, and say that “you can play beautiful football even when you don’t have the ball.” unfortunately for Germany, The Netherlands, Portugal (and the others) they didn’t.
Spain controlled this game, and the Dutch let them control it. I think at one point I counted 5 seconds that Xavi had the ball before he was challenged. If you’re going to let the other team have possession and think about their next move, then you don’t deserve to win, sorry. Letting a Spanish midfielder have the ball for so long without being challenged is inexcusable.
How do you contain them? You put lots of pressure on them, and you force them to make mistakes. The Dutch seemed to know that they had to do this, but didn’t keep it up. The few errors did make were forced errors, including giving Kuyt a nice shot.
The problem is that this is fricken hard, it requires constant attention and requires even more physical effort than simply keeping possession. But hey, it’s a World Cup final, if you don’t work harder than the other side, then they win. I’ve never seen a national side defend against good possession. It’s something that only a club can learn, from constant reinforcement, training and fitness. Hard to get a world cup team to put that much effort into defending, especially since the players are usually exhausted after long professional seasons.
In short, the Dutch needed to put in more physical effort than they did if they wanted to stop the passing game.
All that being said, it’s supremely ironic that the style of Total Football that Spain won with is a Dutch style. Johan Cruyff, Frank Rijkaard, and those guys taught this style of play to Barcelona. It was no coincidence that Real Madrid had 5 Dutch players last year. Until the Spanish started playing Dutch-style Total Football, they were basically imitating the unsuccessful English kick and run style.
So you can thank the Dutch for the current reign of Spain and Spanish teams. It came back to bite them on the ass!