Africa will crown a new World Cup champion

2010-07-10 10:26

Spain and the Netherlands is uncertain, one thing is clear: A new name will be

engraved on the trophy.

Neither Spain nor the Netherlands have won the competition. At the

end of the match at Soccer City in Soweto on the outskirts of Johannesburg, one

of the two teams will become the eighth country to win the World Cup after the

first all-European final outside Europe.

Both coaches can call on a full squad, with Vicente del Bosque

having Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas available, who sat out the 1-0 victory

against Germany in the semifinals.

Whether to play Fabregas or not is not the only tough decision that

Del Bosque faces. He also has to make up his mind whether he wants to keep

Liverpool striker Fernando Torres on the bench or not.

Torres’ replacement, Pedro, worked hard against Germany but did not

look all that dangerous, and with Torres having been so influential in Spain’s

Euro victory in 2008, Del Bosque could well give him another chance.

Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk, meanwhile, has defender Gregory van

der Wiel and midfielder Nigerl de Jong back in contention for a place in the

team after both missed the Oranjes’ 3-2 semifinal victory against Uruguay

through suspension.

If the two slip back into the side, it seems likely that Khalid

Boulahrouz and Demy de Zeeuw will have to make place for Van der Wiel and De


The Dutch, together with surprise package New Zealand, remain the

only unbeaten side in the tournament and although they were not as impressive in

their victory against Uruguay, Joris Mathijsen is confident that they will be

able to play well against Spain.

“The Spanish will come at us and that is much better for us. We

look stronger against teams that play attacking football. Most of the teams that

have played against us play very defensively and that makes it more difficult,”

said the SV Hamburg defender.

Van Marwijk has an abundance of options upfront and seems likely to

stick to his creative attacking players Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder and Robin

van Persie, who should be joined by Dirk Kuyt.

This would leave a place on the bench for Real Madrid’s Rafael van

der Vaart.

Robben and Sneijder have been shortlisted for the Golden Ball award

as the best players of the tournament and should the Netherlands manage to

overcome their opposition, the Inter Milan midfielder Sneijder would be the

overwhelming favourite to win the award.

Mathijsen sings Sneijder’s praises. “He is not a player who needs

to be involved in the game all the time. He is dangerous whenever he is on the

ball and a player like that can always score, even if he is not constantly in

the game.”

Like the Dutch, the Spanish have a number of star players, with

Xavi, Andres Iniesta and David Villa also being shortlisted for the Golden Ball


Villa and Sneijder lead the scorer charts, with five goals a piece,

and both will be hoping to add a goal to win the Golden Boot award.

Like the Dutch, the Spaniards play a 4-2-3-1 system, using direct

combination football and fast attacking offensive players. Both sides look

dangerous and can score goals from virtually all situations.

Against Germany, Spain completely dominated the game and hardly

allowed the Germans to come into the match. Their one weakness, however, is the

fact that need to create many, many chances before finally finding the net and

were it not for Villa’s predatory skills upfront, they would have struggled to

advance as they would simply not have scored enough goals.

Never before has a team that has lost its first game at the World

Cup gone on to win the tournament, but at a competition that has already thrown

out a number of firsts, Spain are confident that they will be able to put that

statistic behind them and add the World Cup to their Euro title.

Their belief is further strengthened by Paul, the all-knowing

octopus, which has so far correctly predicted the outcome of the six Germany


In a televised show yesterday, Paul picked Spain as the winners of

the World Cup and so far he has been right.

No doubt, millions of Spaniards are hoping he will be right this

time too.

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