They lost the final and lost a little bit of their soul and reputation, taking their cue from a surprising source..
Estudiantes de la Plata was a much feared team in the 1960s. For their football (they won three consecutive Copa de Libertadores 1968-1970), but more especially for the way they usually kicked the living daylights out of opponents., with luminaries like Bilardo (a doctor and workaholic, blessed with an enormous nose and becoming a famous coach later in life) under legendary coach Zubeldía.
Holland won’t probably get as bad as them (the whole team was arrested after a famous intercontinental match against AC Milan, and the keeper suspended for life), but last night, the Dutch demonstrated nevertheless that it’s much easier to lose a reputation than win it. A bit sad to see, but somewhat understandable, considering they’ve never won it and lost two finals.
It always was going to be very difficult to play against a team whose backbone have played together from the youth team, in a distinctive manner inculcated by a Dutchman who revolutionized their youth team, their club, and by extension, the National Spanish side. All that tacit coordination of people blindly finding one another because they have played together since time immemorial is hard to beat by other teams.
So Holland couldn’t get at them in their own way (or at least that was their working assumption), which left the hard way, and now it’s the highway..