Monday, July 12, 2010

WORLD CUP FINAL Preview. Netherlands v Spain

This is it. The biggest game in World Football bar none. 32 teams started the tournament and now there are only two left to fight it out to the death. And it is being competed by two countries who have never won the World Cup. Whoever wins will be only the eighth winner of the trophy.

The Dutch have the most historical baggage to contend with. They are (in my opinion and the court of public opinion) the best side never to have won a world cup. They lost consecutive finals in '74 and '78 to Germany and Argentina. Their team might not be as good as the Neeskens inspired Dutch side of the seventies but they have the chance to go one better. Holland have regularly had brilliant players - the likes of van Basten, Gullit, Bergkamp, Kluivert etc. But they have always failed somewhere along the line at the World Cup. Whether it be through in-fighting, penalty shoot-out failure or something else, the Dutch have become synonymous with World Cup stuff ups.

Spain are the perennial underachievers of world football. Considering the talent they have had at their disposal in many world cups, it is shocking that this is the first World Cup for which they have made the semis. Thus whatever happens this Spanish side has gone further than any other. Spain are bidding to become only the third country to hold both the World Cup and European Championships simultaneously (West Germany were the first and France the second).

Strangely enough Spain and the Netherlands have never faced each other at a World Cup or European Championships. They were in the same qualifying group for Euro '84 and that is the sum total of their World Cup and European Championship history.

Two players go into this game in first equal place for the Golden Boot. Sneijder and Villa have five goals each (alongside Mueller and Forlan). Sneijder has already won the Coppa Italia, the Seria A and the Champions League this season. He has the opportunity to add the World Cup and/or the Golden Boot to these achievements. And if he did, he would surely be a shoe-in for the Ballon d'Or and the Golden Ball.

Both sides have well organised defensive shapes to complement some very exciting attack minded players. If Spain manage to dominate the possession like they did against Germany they will be very difficult to beat. This game has the potential to be quite open but with such a big prize at stake it also has the potential to be very cagey, tentative and tense.

No-one is suspended for this game. No-one it seems is injured either after Dutch keeper Stekelenburg appears to be fit. The Dutch have a fairly obvious starting eleven but there are still question marks over Spain: will Torres start or stay on the bench as he was for the semi? The midfield is one area in which Spain are burgeoning with talent. The four regular starters Xavi, Iniesta, Alonso and Busquets also have Pedro, Fabregas and Navas breathing down their necks.

There will be much talent on show from both sides in the final. Who will be the hero? Will it be the likes of a Robben or a van Persie, or will it be an Iniesta or Puyol, or will it be a super sub that no-one even expects to get on the pitch?

It's not long to go until we find out.

1 comment:

dave said...

well, it may have been the biggest game in football, but it certainly wasn't the best game i have watched. It was painful watching Holland attacking Spain rather than trying to get the ball, and embarrassing to watch Spain diving anytime anyone went near them.