World Cup final preview
Posted 8th July 2010
The 19th World Cup final is guaranteed to produce an eighth winner of the competition. The victor will be able to savour a long overdue triumph, a matter of putting the record of underachievement right, while the loser will only partially have shaken off the chokers' tag that has accompanied them at World Cups.
The burden of history weighs heavily on these teams, but both should use the recent past to build confidence ahead of this mouth-watering clash. Netherlands, ranked fourth in the world, are on a 25-match unbeaten run, while second placed Spain's run of 35 undefeated matches that ended last year is a world record. The Iberian side are favourites in the Football World Cup betting.
The finalists are clearly hard to beat, which combined with the tense atmosphere of this massive occasion makes a high-scoring encounter unlikely. The last ten finalists have kept five clean sheets between them. Holland's World Cup odds suggest they will have to dig deep to win.
Amazingly these teams have never met in World Cups or European Championships, reflecting their habit of departing tournaments prematurely. They have faced each other only nine times in total, the last clash being won 1-0 by the Dutch in Rotterdam eight years ago.
Both coaches have virtually full squads to choose from, with Nigel de Jong and Cesc Fabregas available after suspension and injury respectively. The midfields are the strongest areas of both teams and the centre of the pitch is likely to be a congested area with clear chances limited.
In David Villa Spain have the deadliest striker on show and the new Barcelona recruit is the man most likely to pounce on a rare opportunity. Spain have won their three knockout stage matches by a 1-0 scoreline and this outcome could be the one to follow again.