Netherlands is the only team in the World Cup to qualify for 3 finals and lose all 3. Details about their all 3 final defeats here.
1974 World Cup finals vs Germany
West Germany was led by Franz Beckenbauer, while the Dutch had their star Johan Cruyff, and their Total Football system which had dazzled the competition. The start of the match was delayed as the ground staff at the stadium had removed the corner flags for the tournament’s closing ceremony (which preceded the final) but then forgot to put them back. With just a minute gone on the clock, following a solo run, Cruijff was brought down by Uli Hoeneß in the German penalty area, and the Dutch took the lead from the ensuing penalty by Johan Neeskens before any German player had even touched the ball. West Germany struggled to recover, but they were awarded a penalty of their own in the 25th minute after Bernd Hölzenbein was fouled within the Dutch area. Paul Breitner took responsibility for the kick, and scored. These two penalties were the first to be awarded in a World Cup Final. West Germany now pushed for a winner, which eventually came in the 43rd minute through Gerd Müller. It turned out to be Müller’s last ever goal for the West German team, as he retired from international football after the tournament. As the teams walked off the pitch at half-time, Cruyff was booked for arguing with the referee.
The second half saw chances for both sides. Müller thought he had scored when he put the ball in the net, only to be denied by the linesman flagging for offside. In the 85th minute, Hölzenbein fell to ground in the Dutch penalty area again, but referee Taylor did not believe it was a foul. When the final whistle went, West Germany were crowned world champions for 1974, in addition to their European title from 1972. This was the only case of the reigning European champions winning the World Cup until Spain accomplished the feat in 2010, although France have also held both trophies at the same time by winning the 1998 World Cup followed by Euro 2000.
The Brazilian João Havelange (former FIFA President from 1974 to 1998) made an unfounded claim that the 1966 and 1974 World Cups were fixed so that England and Germany would win respectively.
1978 World Cup finals vs Argentina
The match was contested by hosts Argentina and the Netherlands. The match was won by the Argentines in extra time by a score of 3–1. Mario Kempes, who finished as the tournament’s top scorer, was named the man of the match. The Netherlands lost their second World Cup final in a row, both times to the host nation, after losing to West Germany in 1974.
The final is mired in some controversy as the Dutch accused the Argentines of using stalling tactics to delay the match. The host team came out late and questioned the legality of a plaster cast on René van de Kerkhof’s wrist, which the Dutch claimed allowed tension to build in front of a hostile Buenos Airescrowd.The Netherlands refused to attend the post-match ceremonies after the match ended.
2010 World Cup finals vs Spain
The final was played on 11 July 2010 at Soccer City, Johannesburg. Spain defeated the Netherlands 1–0, after an extra time goal by Andrés Iniesta.
The match had the most yellow cards awarded in a World Cup final, more than doubling the previous record for a final, set when Argentina and West Germany shared six cards in 1986. Fourteen yellow cards were awarded (nine of which to the Netherlands), and John Heitinga of the Netherlands was sent off for a second yellow. One yellow card was for Nigel de Jong’s studs-up kick to the chest of Xabi Alonso during the first half, for which Rob Hughes of the New York Times, among others, believed the referee should have given a red card.The referee, Howard Webb, later said after reviewing the foul that it should have been a red card, but that his view during play was partially obstructed.
The Netherlands had several chances to score, most notably in the 60th minute when Arjen Robben was released by Wesley Sneijder putting him one-on-one with Spain’s goalkeeper Iker Casillas, but Casillas pushed the shot wide with an outstretched leg. Meanwhile, for Spain, Sergio Ramos missed a free header from a corner kick when he was unmarked. Dutch captain Giovanni van Bronckhorst was substituted in the 105th minute by Edson Braafheid; Real Madrid midfielder Rafael van der Vaart, who had come on as a substitute in the 99th minute for Nigel de Jong, took over as captain for the last 15 minutes. From the 109th minute on the Dutch played with 10 men due to Heitinga’s second yellow card. With a penalty shootout seeming inevitable, Jesús Navas sprinted into opposing territory and began a series of passes that led to Iniesta finally breaking the deadlock four minutes before the end of extra time, scoring with a right footed half-volleyed shot low to the goalkeeper’s right after receiving a pass from Cesc Fàbregas on the right of the penalty area.
Just before the goal was scored, the Dutch team had a free kick that hit the wall (apparently taking a deflection off Fàbregas) before going out. Despite the deflection, which should have given possession and a corner kick to the Dutch, a goal kick was given to Spain, starting the play that led to the goal. The Dutch, however, momentarily had possession of the ball near the Spanish penalty area in between the goal kick and Iniesta’s goal. Joris Mathijsen was yellow-carded for his strong protests to the referee after the goal, and other Dutch players criticised Webb for this decision after the match.