World Cup Preview from The Sports Network|
Sunday, July 11, 2010
(All times Eastern)
Netherlands (6-0-0) vs. Spain (5-1-0), 2:30 p.m.
Johannesburg, South Africa (Sports Network) - History will be made at Soccer
City on Sunday in the final of the FIFA World Cup as either the Netherlands or
Spain will claim its first-ever World Cup title.
One of the two sides will become the eighth nation to win a World Cup, and
while the Dutch have appeared in the finals on two other occasions, in 1974
and 1978, this is uncharted territory for Spain.
"We haven't achieved anything like this before but this team deserves
everything that comes our way," said Spain striker David Villa. "It's not easy
to get this far but we're hungry for more and we couldn't be happier at
reaching the final. That's what we came here for and now we want to go out and
This will be the second big final for Spain in two years as it beat Germany,
1-0, to win the Euro 2008 title, and as midfielder Xabi Alonso said, "if you
reach the final, you want to go on and win it."
Spain has gotten to its first World Cup final with three successive 1-0
victories in the knockout stage, beating Portugal, Paraguay and Germany by the
The Dutch, meanwhile, have found the net seven times in their three knockout
stage wins, beating Slovakia and Brazil, 2-1, before a 3-2 triumph over
Uruguay in the semifinals.
"We're in the final - unbelievable," overjoyed Dutch manager Bert van Marwijk
said following the semifinal win. "When I took this job two years ago, I said
to the players, 'We're on a mission, and we just have to believe in
ourselves.' We're only a small country but we're through to the final, that's
just unbelievable. We last made the final 32 years ago, so what we've achieved
is, and I'll say it again, unbelievable."
Wesley Sneijder has also been unbelievable as he has led the team with five
goals this tournament, while getting some strong support from both Arjen
Robben and Dirk Kuyt on the wings.
However, if the Dutch want to complete their mission, they had better be
stronger in defense as they will face a high-powered Spanish attack.
Despite scoring only seven goals in six games so far, Spain has created
countless scoring chances and has controlled most of its games with a big
edge in possession.
Spain manager Vicente del Bosque will have one big decision to make up top,
and that is whether to start the struggling Fernando Torres alongside Villa,
or go with Pedro, who played well in his first start against Germany in the
The Netherlands has the kind of players in Robben and Sneijder who could be
effective on the counter attack, but if Spain is firing on all cylinders on
Sunday, it is hard to see it losing.
The Spanish have given up just two goals all tournament, and midfielder Xavi
believes that if they can duplicate their semifinal performance, that he likes
their chances of bringing home the World Cup.
"Holland are a great team, they've got really strong players, especially from
the midfield to the attack and they're on a great run of form," Xavi said.
"But we have to play our football - if we play like we did in the semifinal,
we have a great chance."
07/10 19:52:00 ET