The final of the World Cup between Netherlands and Spain is going to be a fascinating contest considering how similar the two teams are in their style. Both of them have been traditionally talented teams who play attractive football, have a reputation of ‘bottling it’, underachieving at major competitions and have never won the World Cup.
Netherlands have a greater World Cup record than Spain and have reached the finals of the competition 2 times before. They have a slight advantage going into this game over Spain in the sense that they had 1 day more rest than the Spaniards. Also, Netherlands is the only team this World Cup who came from behind to win their game and they managed that feat against the mighty Brazil. The Dutch are yet to lose in this World Cup and the team will go all out today, to ensure that it is third time lucky for the Dutch.
The Netherlands manager BertVan Marwijk has no injured players and will most likely go with a 4-2-3-1 formation with Maarten Stekelenburg in goal.Their defence will be lead by their captain Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Gregory van der Wiel, John Heitinga and Joris Mathijsen. Netherland’s strength is their midfield. They have basically two defending midfielders and 3 attacking midfielders. Mark van Bommel and Nigel De Jong recover balls, keep possession,support the back four and launch attacks while Arjen Robben, Dirk Kuyt and Wesley Sneijder are all capable of scoring and changing games. Robin Van Persie will play upfront as the lone striker and eventhough he hasn’t had a great World Cup, he is in no way not dangerous.
To win and get rid of the tag of being ‘the best team to never have won the World Cup’, Netherlands must keep possession, take risks and press Spain up front. If they decide to sit back against Spain, they will lose.
Spain can also be called the ‘best team to never have won the World Cup’ and if they lose today that tag will be truer than ever before. The current Spanish team has the best midfield in the world, however, they are still to really convince (and by that I mean score a lot of goals) in this World Cup. However, they have lost only one game so far. Spain were simply brilliant in the way they outplayed Germany in their last match showing that their is a new maturity to this traditionally flamboyant national team. In a tournament where results matter more than how those results were, Spain have proved to be very very good. Today they will want to create history by not only winning their first World Cup but also by becoming the only team to have won the World Cup after having lost their first World Cup game.
Spain manager Vincente Del Bosque also has all his starting XI available and will go with a 4-2-3-1 formation and Fernando Torres will probably once again start on the bench, especially since his replacement Pedro put in a great performance in the last match. The youngster was brilliant throughout the game against Germany and didn’t set a foot wrong except when he got a little selfish and cost Spain a sure-shot goal by trying to score a goal himself rather than pass to David Villa. Iker Casillas will be in goal for Spain with Sergio Ramos,Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique, Joan Capdevila forming Spain’s defence. Sergio Busquets and Xabi Alonso sit ahead of them protecting the back four, keeping possession and launching attacks. Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez and David Silva will make up Spain’s attacking midfield with David Villa up front.
Spain will be patient and will want to keep possession up front, like they did against Germany and search for openings for David Villa. They will need to be extra careful to keep Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder at bay.
The match is going to spell ecstasy for 11 players and absolute agony for the other 11 and is one of the toughest matches to call even though Spain definitely have an edge over the Dutch going into the game. The Dutch on the other hand have luck on their side considering their defenders have gotten away with some tackles which were close calls, they won against Uruguay after their Wesley Sneijders’s shot took deflection and no one noticed Van Persie being offside and they got a Brazilian (Felipe Melo) to score an own goal. The stats seem to be on their side too, since they surely must even out not having won despite having reached the Finals. Spain, have the terrible stat of no team having won the World Cup after losing their first game to fight but then again they have octopus Paul on their side!
“It doesn’t interest me who is the favourite, I don’t care what the world is saying. We will play our own game.” – Bert Van Marwijk, Netherlands manager
“Both have players of great technical ability. It’s going to be great propaganda for world football.” Vincente Del Bosque, Spain manager
Stars to Watch Out For
Netherlands: Wesley Sniejder, Arjen Robben, John Heitinga
Spain: David Villa, Andreas Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez, Sergio Ramos
This is the first World Cup final that does not involve one of Brazil, Argentina, Italy or (West) Germany
If Holland are the victors they will be the only the second side ever (Brazil in 1970 were the other) to win every match in qualifying and at the tournament itself
If Spain triumph in the final they will be the first side ever to win the World Cup after losing their first game
Spain have completed 3,387 passes at the World Cup – more than any other side
Wesley Sneijder has scored seven goals in his last eight internationals