Form points to Spain win

Anyone who tipped a World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands can be congratulated for having the visionary talent of a clairvoyant. It means we will for first time be seeing an all-European final outside the European continent.

What’s also remarkable is the fact that it will be the first World Cup final for Spain in its federation’s history. The Dutch have also been waiting 32 years for this moment.

I personally had been hoping Germany would be in the final in Johannesburg on Sunday. The German team has given this World Cup some of its lustre. There was real quality about the victories over England and Argentina. Germany made players like England’s Wayne Rooney and Argentina’s world footballer of the year Lionel Messi look ordinary in the respective 4-1 and 4-0 victories. I am also certain Germany would have had a good chance of beating Spain had not Thomas Mueller been suspended.

Mueller has proved phenomenal when he gets near goal. Apart from the two goals he scored against England or the header which gave Germany an early lead against Argentina, he also made the second against Argentina for Miroslav Klose. That shows for me that he is dangerous in front of goal, even when you least expect it.

However, I am hoping Germany can look forward to a bright future. The young team, with an average age of around 25, has shown that German football is not just all about fight and will to win, but also has players who have endeared themselves to many with their skills on the ball.

The Spanish have not convinced me throughout this tournament. That has something to do with the fact that they had a sorry-looking striker on the pitch in Fernando Torres who must feel himself he is not at his sharpest following knee surgery.

It was left to fleet-footed Andres Iniesta and passing supremo Xavi to produce the goods. With Spain there seems to be a ban on beginning an attack unless the ball has gone three times through Xavi. On the one hand I love this combination football. On the other hand I sometimes have the feeling Spain could pass the ball night without scoring a goal. If they didn’t have David Villa, the scorer of five goals so far, where would they be?

However, Spain are favourites in the final. Their good old coach Vicente del Bosque has nearly always enjoyed success, as he showed when he was in charge of Real Madrid.
But most of all it is because Spain have a seasoned team with six players from Barcelona and three from Real Madrid. They know each other’s game so well and despite the club rivalry get on superbly both on and off the pitch.

The Netherlands won’t be able to barricade themselves in defence as Swiss did in their 1-0 win over Spain. The Swiss under our former Bayern Munich coach Ottmar Hitzfeld inflicted only the second defeat in 54 games on the European champions. That’s really quite a record. If Spain raise the pace of their game, as they often do in the second half, if Sergio Ramos can get forward on the right, Xabi Alonso takes shots from outside the area and Torres finally explodes, the Dutch won’t have a chance.

And yet they do have their chances. I know well my Dutch players at Bayern. There is no one better equipped both to neutralise the opponent’s midfield and crank up his own team than Mark van Bommel.

The Bayern captain has even more power and influence in the Dutch side, one reason being that coach Bert van Marwijk is his father-in-law. And then the Dutch have Arjen Robben who has now become a big favourite in Munich. Everyone knows Robben likes to cut in from the right flank to get a shot in on his left foot, but because he is so fast defenders can’t do anything.

The Dutch also have an on-form player in Wesley Sneijder of Inter Milan, who like Robben was discarded by Real Madrid. He is on a good run right now. Whenever he shoots the ball seems to land near goal, even if it is deflected off a defender. (c) SKK 2010, distributed by gms/Asiafeatures

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