Showdown in Jozi

Why Spain will regin
Elijah Moholola

Masters of beautiful football
Spain are just too beautiful.

This is not a reference to their physical appearance. Spain’s beauty can be witnessed through David Villa’s waltzing forays, Sergio Ramos’ surging runs and the meticulous passing by the two men distinguished by one letter – Xavi and Xabi Alonso.

Spain have also completed the highest number of passes (3 387).

King David rules
Villa showed why Barcelona moved mountains for his signature by scoring four World Cup goals in three matches. He is now on five goals, and needs one strike to become Spain’s all-time leading scorer.

Stingy rearguard
The La Roja defence went for three successive World Cup knock-out matches without conceding, and has only been breached twice in 540 minutes.
Largely due to the solid central pairing of Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique, and ‘keeper Iker Casillas.

The Boss(que) effect
Vicente del Bosque has coached Real Madrid from 1999 to 2003, regarded as a very successful period in the club’s history. He won both the La Liga and Uefa Champions League twice.

Since taking over in July 2008, the 59-year-old has lost only twice in 32 matches.

Squad of winners
The current contingent comprises 15 players who were part of the triumphant Euro 2008 squad.

The team also has seven players who won the Champions League with Barcelona last year.

World Cup experience
Sometimes in football, the “L” in the record column means “lesson” instead of “loss”. The 11 players who were part of the team that exited in the second round at the 2006 World Cup have returned this year.

Money makes the ball go round
More than the fame of being world champions, Spain’s players are chasing a €600 000 (R5.7m) fortune each as promised by their association. Argentina were second (€510 000), while English players could have received €475 000.

Octopus Paul says so

Germany’s most-hated Octopus can never be wrong. Octopus Paul has predicted Spain will win – just as he forecast that La Furia Roja would emerge victorious over Germany.

Why Oranje will flow
Timothy Molobi

World Cup of firsts
After being the first country to qualify for the 2010 World Cup, Holland also want to be the first Europeans to lift the trophy outside their continent. They go back to Soccer City, where they started off against Denmark in their opening game.

History factor

This generation would not want to go the same route as the one which competed in back-to-back ­finals in 1974 and 1978 and finished as runners-up to host countries West Germany and Argentina respectively. They want to become the first Netherlands World Cup victors. They have already discarded the tag of being chokers at major tournaments.

Total football
As the masters of total football through the Ajax Youth Academy, Holland will go out to prove that they invented this philosophy. Attacking football, through their diamond formation, will be the winner at the end of the 90 minutes. With nine players having been produced by the famous academy in this squad, Holland should prevail.

Sneijder’s golden touch

Wesley Sneijder’s effectiveness has been the key factor in Holland’s success so far, having scored five goals already and vying for the Golden Boot and Golden Ball awards. Whatever the Inter Milan playmaker touches turns into gold, and after winning the Uefa Champions’ League trophy he is in line to add a fourth title, all in one year.

Consistency

Holland remain undefeated, disposing of Slovakia, the mighty Brazil and Uruguay. They have not put a foot wrong, sounded warning bells when they easily upstaged the fancied Brazil, and have peaked at the right time.

Inside info
Holland boast four players who have played in Spain and will know La Roja in and out and will give inside information on how they operate.
 
Unbeaten record
After tasting defeat almost two years ago in 2008, this Dutch team has been unbeaten since and would not want to surrender to Spain this evening.

Bert van Marwijk magic
This will be the first time Bert van Marwijk wins any major international event after annexing the Uefa Cup and the Dutch version of the FA Cup with Rotterdam Feyenoord.


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