Germany or Spain?

Sports 1272 Hits > 2010-07-11 10:37:35

Artists poised for Final showdown : FIFA 2010 Final

The shadow of Johan Cruyff will loom large over the 19th FIFA World Cup™ Final on Sunday. The 11 men chosen to represent the Netherlands will take to the pitch as heirs of the team synonymous with 'Total Football', aiming to achieve what Cruyff and Co never quite managed. On the opposing side, seven of Spain's probable line-up play their domestic football with Catalan giants Barcelona, the club where the legendary Dutchman cemented his reputation as player and coach.

Not since 1978, when Argentina faced the Netherlands, have two nations competed for a maiden world title. The Oranje are yet to put a foot wrong in their quest, winning all eight of their qualifying matches and boasting an impressive record of six victories out of six in South Africa. A successful outcome in the third Final of their history would see them join the mighty 1970 Brazil side as the only other team to have won all of their games on the way to claiming the world title.

As reigning European champions, La Roja will look to their golden generation of superstars to ensure that the country's name is finally engraved on the coveted Trophy. Germany remain the only team to have lifted the FIFA World Cup two years after winning the UEFA European Championship, but a Spanish victory would expand this elite club's membership to two.

The matches

Uruguay 2-3 Germany

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

The big game


Although each has added a pragmatic edge to their approach at South Africa 2010, both these sides come from a tradition of attacking, free-flowing football that could well produce a classic Final. Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben would certainly not look out of place in the Dutch 'Clockwork Orange' side of the 1970s. Yet it could be argued that they have something even more valuable to offer, namely that innate ability to create something out of nothing.

The opposing camp is not without its talents either, of course. The fulcrum of the Spanish team is Xavi, who regularly completes an incredible 100 passes per match, offering a masterclass in consistency and accuracy. When pondering at whose feet he should place the ball, he is usually spoiled for choice, with Andres Iniesta, Pedro and David Villa making darting and penetrating runs left, right and centre.

Will La Roja’s impenetrable defence prove one hurdle too far for the Dutch? Or will the Netherlands midfield make the difference, and Mark van Bommel's determination and ball-winning skills allow the team's mark on the Final? Both teams should be at full strength and, if their respective stars are able to put the high stakes to the back of their minds and truly express themselves, spectators the world over could be in for a veritable exhibition of football.

In focus

Wesley Sneijder v David Villa

Along with Diego Forlan and Miroslav Klose, the Netherlands midfielder and Spain striker have largely eclipsed all the other stars of world football, among them Lionel Messi, Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo. Both men have the ability to decide the tournament's showpiece match with a moment's inspiration. Their predatory finishing has helped their sides out of tight situations time and again over the last four weeks, in the process becoming the tournament's joint-top scorers with five goals apiece alongside Diego Forlan and Thomas Muller. That personal duel adds a little extra spice to Sunday's showdown, with both Sneijder and Villa eyeing the adidas Golden Boot as well as a winner's medal. Just for good measure, the duo also feature on the list of ten nominees for the adidas Golden Ball.

What they said

“I love attractive football, but I also love to win. I’ve been coaching this team for two years, and I’ve said many times to my players that our mission was clear, and that the best way to accomplish it was to believe in ourselves,” Bert van Marwijk, Netherlands coach.

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