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Netherlands vs Spain

The 2010 FIFA World Cup™ Final promises to be quite an occasion, with the Netherlands pitting their wits against reigning European champions Spain. Both sides have produced some good football during their campaigns and have been rewarded with the chance to add their nation’s names to the select list of former winners: Uruguay, Italy, Germany, Brazil, England, Argentina and France.

Will it be the Dutch or the Spanish who add their name to the prestigious list of FIFA World Cup winners?

The match

Netherlands-Spain, Final, Soccer City, Sunday 11 July, 20.30 (local time)

As a glance at the head-to-head record between the two nations shows, tipping a winner is no easy task. Both sides have won four of their nine meetings, with the other game ending in a draw. The Oranje have been here before, reaching the Finals at Germany 1974, with Johan Cruyff, and Argentina 1978, without him, and losing to the hosts on both occasions. For Spain, however, this is new territory, although their confidence at rising to the occasion will be high after ending a 44-year trophy drought at UEFA EURO 2008.

The Netherlands’ record at South Africa 2010 could hardly be more impressive: six wins in six games with 12 goals scored and five conceded. For their part Vicente del Bosque’s men have strung together five wins in a row after kicking off with a surprise defeat. But while the Spaniards have found goals hard to come by, scoring just seven in total, they have been far more miserly in defence, letting in just two so far. The winners will also end an old hoodoo, with no European side having ever won the biggest prize in world football outside the old continent.

Players to watch

Wesley Sneijder v David Villa

The leading goalscorers at South Africa 2010, alongside Diego Forlan, Miroslav Klose and Thomas Muller, this in-form pair are in the frame for both the adidas Golden Boot and the adidas Golden Ball. Their goals have been vital to their sides’ respective runs to the Final. Can one of them end the tournament with a winner’s medal and two coveted individual awards? All will soon be revealed.

The stat

8 – Sunday’s game will be the eighth all-European Final. In 19 FIFA World Cup tournaments, Europe has been represented in 16 Finals, a record that includes an unbroken run of 14 going back to Switzerland 1954. Only two showpiece games have been all-South American, with the remaining nine pitching together sides from the competition’s two dominant continents.

What they said

Arjen Robben, Netherlands forward:

I don’t see David Villa as Spain’s most dangerous player. The ones you really have to watch are Xavi [Hernandez] and [Andres] Iniesta. They’re the players who set the tempo and make sure the ball gets to Villa. We have to stop them from playing and getting free. We need to mark them very tightly because if we give them the slightest space we’ll have problems.

Iker Casillas, Spain goalkeeper and captain:

I don’t think they’ll sit back and defend. They’ve got some quick players who are in terrific form right now. They’ll do what we do and stick to their style. I know Robben. He’s quick powerful and strong, and his shooting from outside the area is a concern for me. What we need to do is cut him off, although there’s more to the Netherlands than just Robben. They are powerful in defence and midfield, and [Wesley] Sneijder and [Dirk] Kuyt are just as dangerous.

Have your say

Will it be the Dutch or the Spanish who add their name to the prestigious list of FIFA World Cup winners?

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