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Date: 22 April 2019

  World - Soccer

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A history-making 2010 World Cup:Spain, Netherlands on threshold of history

[Posted 10 Jul 2010]
[By Brighton Mupangavanhu]
Whose name will be written on this World Cup trophy after the 11 July Final?

South Africa

Both Spain and the Netherlands are set to continue the history making story of the South Africa 2010 World Cup on African soil by playing in their first ever world cup final.

Spain and Netherlands have never won the world cup before. Sunday 11 July will see that changing, and there will be a new winner at the Soccer City Stadium. Ironically, it is the first time that a world cup final will be contested by non-former world cup winners. Thats just one of the firsts for this spectacular world cup hosted by South Africa.

While the Netherlands have contested the world cup finals before, in 1974 and 1978, they did not win the world cup in both occassions. The Dutch teams of the 1970s were famed for what has come to be known as 'total football', which earned Netherlands the title 'Dutch masters'. Indeed the Dutch were masters at playing beautiful football, and the ever demanding Dutch media and nation did not accept just a win from their team, how the team played in their win mattered a lot to the Dutch population.

However, beautiful football did not bring the 'Dutch Masters' any silverware at this level during the golden era of the 1970s. Playing the beautiful brand of total football, theDutch reached the final in 1974 with a bang, but lost 1-2 to  a West Germany side which played simple and direct football, rich with a punishing defensive play which protected a lead at all costs. The Dutch reached the world cup final again in 1978, but it appeared that they had learnt little about playing pragmatic football. They got punished by Argentina who romped to a 3-1 victory.

But the Dutch football class of 2010 appears to have learnt something which the 1970s teams failed to master. They have been playing to win rather than to entertain, unlike their 1970s heroes who had nothing to show for their brilliance on the field of play. Netherlands have balance in their team this time around.

 The Bert van Marwijk coached team has a defence which has not performed badly and started off their campaign in the group stages with a clean sheet as they beat Denmark 2-0. Despite not being the most outstandng defenders in the world, the back-line of Gregory van der Wiel, Johnny Heitinga, Joris Mathijsen and Giovanni van Bronckhorst has not yet been tested beyond measure at this world cup. Their real test will come on Sunday against a Spanish team which attacks as a unit, with a very mobile Villa who is not tied to one place and is forever looking for a hole in the opposition from off Iniesta and Xavi passes. 

 The Dutch midfield  has  two hard man in Mark von Bomel and Nigel de Jong who who are tasked with ensuring that Xavi and Andres Iniesta do not supply clean balls to the dangerous David Villa or strike partner Fernando Torres, Pedro or Cesc Fabregas, whoever is chosen to play alongside the in-form Villa.

The Dutch have proved to all and sundry that they are deadly on counter attacks with the attacking prowess of Wesley Sneidjer, Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie. It will be particularly difficult for Spain to stop the dribbling wizard and pacy Robben and the clinical Sneidjer.

Spain, on the other hand, have never reached the finals of a world cup. They made history on Wednesday when they defeated Germany 1-0 to reach the final for their first ever time.

The Spaniards have dominated ball possession in all the matches they have played at this world cup. They showed how ruthless they can be against Germany and the narrow scoreline of 1-0 does not reflect the Spaniards' dominance in that match. But again, finishing has been the Spanish team's biggest limitation. On Sunday they will come against a team with efficient and effective finishing ability. Spain's over-reliance on Villa for goals could spell disaster for them if Bert van Marwijk's men come up with an effective strategy to shut out Villa and Spain's supply lines of Iniesta and Xavi, and the intelligent power-play of the roving Sergio Ramos.

The Dutch appear to know exactly what they ought to do on Sunday to avoid the disappointment which Germany suffered on Wednesday. They are prepared to play ugly football and win than beautiful football and lose.

"We will defend from the front. No-one here feels they are too special to get their hands dirty. I was surprised with how freely Germany let Spain play (on Wednesday). We have to start pressing them earlier", Robben told the BBC on the sidelines of their training this week.

"I would much prefer to win a very ugly game than lose a beautiful one. We can still play attractive football but we can always rely on our good organisation as well ", added Robben.

As to who will win Sunday's final remains uncertain and difficult to tell given the pedigree of both teams. But what is certain is that there will  be a new world cup winner come 11 July.

The SA 2010 has been rich in history. It was for the first time that the World Cup was awarded to an African nation to host it and South Africa responded buy putting together a wonderful tournament to confound critics.

Part of the hiostroy made at this world cup include the fact that Ghana qualified for the world cup quarter-finals for their first time in only their second appearance at the world cup. Spain have reached the world cup final for their first time. While they are the current European champions, a world cup final has always eluded Spain. On Sunday, there will surely be a new winner since the Netherlands have not won the cup before either, despite their 1970s great teams which reached the finals twice in succession between 1974 and 1978.

Both teams do not seem to have any injury concerns in their camps, or if there are any, the teams have kept such news like a closely guarded secret to the media. The team on better form will walk away as the World Cup champions on Sunday 11 July.


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