Sunday, July 11, 2010



18:30 GMT, July 11, 2010
Soccer City Stadium, Johannesburg, South Africa


World Cup final

Football's biggest game will be played in front of around 85,000 fans at Soccer City and sees European champions Spain, in their first World Cup final, up against Netherlands, who are seeking to bury the ghosts of Total Football in 1974 and 1978 when they were losing finalists. Two of the most attacking sides in the tournament will be expected to put on a show.

For both of the nations competing in football's biggest match, the World Cup final represents a chance to bury the ghosts of the past and look forward to a glorious future. However, for the loser, the pain of defeat may linger long after the dust has settled at Soccer City.

Somewhat surprisingly, the two sides have never met at a World Cup and, in fact, have only clashed nine times in history, with each side claiming four wins and one draw. They have met in one final before - the Olympic Final in 1920 when Spain won 3-1 - but in recent results Netherlands have come out on top, with Spain's last win back in 1983.
Netherlands have made it to their first World Cup final since back-to-back defeats in 1974 and 1978 and have the weight of history heavy on their shoulders. The spectre of Johan Cruyff's Total Football has hung over the Dutch side for years and, now Bert van Marwijk's men have a chance to surpass their achievements, suddenly comparisons are being made again.

Certainly, the side's style under van Marwijk has not been 'Total' but the functional and destructive talents of Mark van Bommel and Nigel De Jong knit well with the attacking prowess of Robin van Perise, Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben. As the only unbeaten side in the tournament, coming from behind to beat Brazil in the quarter-finals provided the Dutch with the confidence they need to re-write history in the final, but one feels they may still come up short.
The main reason for that is because they face arguably the best side in the world at the moment, European champions Spain, whose Golden Generation have made it past the quarter-finals for the first time in their history.
With years of disappointment at international level now behind them after their win in 2008, Spain have a bright future and play the kind of attacking football that guarantees them fans across the globe. Maintaining control of the ball with expert technique, the likes of Xavi,Andres Iniesta and Xabi Alonso provide the ammunition for the star strikers of David Villa and Fernando Torres, with Villa in the form of his life after a summer move to Barcelona.
Spain have conceded just two goals in the tournament thus far, while Netherlands have netted 12 goals in their six matches - so it should be an intriguing contest.

Competition Stats

GoalsWesley Sneijder 5David Villa 5
AssistsDirk Kuyt 3David Villa 1
YellowsNigel De Jong 2Gerard Piqué 1

Netherlands player to watch: Mark Van Bommel. The defensive midfielder has been a crucial part of Netherlands' success and somehow he managed to avoid a booking until the final few minutes of their semi-final. Sharp in the tackle, van Bommel is charged with winning the ball back, pressing the opposition and general causing havoc in the middle of the field. Without him, there would be no space for the likes of Robben and Sneijder to operate.
Spain player to watch: Carles Puyol. For all the attacking talent Spain have on show, their style is based on solid defending and they don't come much more solid than Puyol. Showing he has the ability to turn a game by scoring the winner in the semi-finals, he has also been outstanding at the back alongside Gerard Pique and uses his considerable experience to slam the door shut on opposition attacks. Overall, he is a strong defender and while his lack of pace may be an issue, he will be key in keeping Netherlands off the scoresheet.
Key battle: Gregory Van Der Wiel v David Villa. The young Ajax right-back will take his place in the side again after suspension cost him a place against Uruguay. Strong and full of running, he provides an attacking outlet down the flank, but also has an important role to fill in defence as well. In the final, that will be to stop Villa drifting onto the left side and finding space to either shoot or cross. The new Barcelona man has been the in-form striker at the tournament, but has enjoyed most freedom from the left-hand side where he cuts in and causes problems for the defenders.
Trivia: Ten players - including seven players from the 1974 Bayern Munich and Germany side, plus Christian Karembeu, Roberto Carlos and Gianluca Zambrotta - have won both the European Cup (UEFA Champions League) and the World Cup in the same year. Wesley Sneijder could be added to this list if the Dutch win the title. Italy's Marcello Lippi is the only coach to have won the Champions League and World Cup - Spain's Vincente del Bosque could follow him.
Stats: Spain have the most World Cup wins of any country that has not lifted the World Cup trophy, while the Dutch have the second most. No team has ever lost their opening game (as Spain did against Switzerland) to then go on and win the World Cup.
Odds: Netherlands (3.75), Spain (2.10) and a draw (3.25) are on offer at Bet 365, while Villa to score first in a 2-1 win comes in at 26.00.

Field Report
Last Five Matches
Jul 7, 2010Germany 0 - Spain 1WC10
Jul 3, 2010Paraguay 0 - Spain 1WC10
Jun 29, 2010Spain 1 - Portugal 0WC10
Jun 25, 2010Chile 1 - Spain 2WC10
Jun 21, 2010Spain 2 - Honduras 0WC10
Team News

Prediction: The game may turn out to be similar to that of the Germany semi-final if the Dutch don't stay true to their attacking style. They can't afford to sit back and, unless they go a goal up early, Spain may take control. Hard to see anything but a Spain win, yet in a World Cup final, the pressure can effect even the most experienced players.

My prediction Spain 2 Netherlands 1

No comments:

Post a Comment