Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk is keen to play down the fact his side are favourites to win their FIFA World Cup semi-final against Uruguay on Tuesday, saying he doesn't need the distraction. The Dutch have a 100 per cent record in South Africa, having won all eight of their qualifying games, but Van Marwijk said he was only focusing on the match ahead.
"In the group phase, we were always the favourite, never the underdog. Against Brazil (in the quarter-final), it was the other way around," he said. "I don't really have an opinion on that. We just want to concentrate on ourselves, we don't want to be misled or distracted by people thinking we are the favourites."
While Ajax defender Gregory van der Wiel and Manchester City midfielder Nigel de Jong are suspended and will not play, Van Marwijk still has a star-studded squad to choose from, with the likes of Bayern Munich's Arjen Robben and Inter Milan star Wesley Sneijder having been impressive so far.
However, despite having plenty of talent, the Dutch have met with criticism in some quarters for not playing "beautiful" football, in contrast to sides like Argentina and Brazil, and even a rejuvenated Germany.
But captain Giovanni Van Bronckhorst said the team was in South Africa to win the FIFA World Cup whichever way they can. "Every game, you want to play well, the most important thing now is that we win matches," said the veteran defender. "In the past, we have started well and then gone on to lose, this time we are much closer and full of confidence.
"Of course, we want to win with beautiful football, but it is more important we win matches. This team always wants to play good football, but sometimes it is not possible."
He added that it had become harder as the tournament progressed to turn on their trademark flowing football, hinting that the Uruguay match would be more of the same. "It is becoming harder as we are in the last four, our opponents will be tough," he said. "If we win with beautiful football, great, but we would be happier with a victory."
If the Netherlands get through Tuesday's test, then either Germany or Spain will await them in the 11 July final in Johannesburg as the Dutch look to claim the first FIFA World Cup title in their history.