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The World Cup is ominously close! So that you aren't caught offside (they have that in soccer, right?), we're previewing all the participants, bringing you Four Things You Don't Know About Them. If you have a tidbit, send it along to Today: the Netherlands! And for World Cup previews that are even better than ours, check out That's On Point, who helped us with these as well.

1. Don't Call Them Holland ... unless you want someone from Maastricht kicking your ass. Holland only refers to two provinces in the Netherlands, and most people find the name a bit arrogant. Kind of
like saying that Vlad Guerrero plays for the California Angels and not the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of the State of California of The United States of America. Also of note: The Dutch drink beer out of little glasses and call them "fluitjes" (little whistles); their team name is "Oranje" (orange) because of the royal family — the national flag is actually red, white & blue. — (thanks to Ben Alschuler and R. Jurgens)


2. Be Sure To Bring Us Back A Program. It is an absolute, proven fact that with Ruud, Gert, Jap and Pierre van Hooijdonk, the Dutch have the goofiest soccer names on the planet. And nothing, absolutely nothing, tops PSV striker (wait for it) ... Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink. (That's his name, really.). Lastly, what kind of a name is Giovanni van Bronckhorst? And why does he just wear "Gio" on his Barcelona jersey? What is the Dutch word for terrible? (vreselijk!) — (thanks to Mike Cardillo).

3. Johan Cruijff Is The Matrix. The most famous Dutch footballer of all time is widely credited (along with coach Rinus Michaels) for being the innovator of the concept "Totaal Voetbal," or Total Football. This is a strategy where a multi-talented player such as Cruijff has the freedom to navigate areas of the field not normally dedicated for his position, effectively allowing him too play multiple positions, while other members of the team fluidly replace his original role. If you can't understand what this means, just think of it this way: Cruijff was the Shawn Marion of Dutch football. — (thanks to Ben Alschuler).

4. Circle Your TV Guide. Netherlands/Argentina on June 21 in Frankfurt looks, on paper, to be the match of the group stage. In particular from the bad blood from their 1998 encounter. The Oranje's greatest success was winning the 1988 European Championship, played, yep, in West Germany. — (thanks to Mike Cardillo).

(Tomorrow: Argentina)

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