With the entire world seemingly expecting a Spanish victory come Sunday evening, Holland has a serious mountain to climb to grab the intensely desired cup. It almost seems like Holland is alone in believing in its own chances. Something that doesn’t come as a big surprise when considering Spain’s impressive play in comparison to Holland’s dull and controlled performance. To the Dutch, Spain plays like Holland and Holland plays like Germany. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing because, as Gary Lineker famously noted, football is a game of 11 against 11 and at the final whistle, Germany wins. Spain’s lovely passing game, akin to that of FC Barcelona, could go a long way towards negating that statement. With Xavi and Iniesta as the team’s centre of gravity, supported by the command center of Busquets and Xabi Alonso, and David Villa upfront, the advantage seems to be on Spain’s side.
Despite all these strengths, Spain does have weaknesses, as Paraguay was able to clearly show in the quarter finals. With full-court press and forechecking, Paraguay disabled Spain’s passing game to such an extent that the Spaniards were almost rendered incapable of creating chances. And if Paraguay’s Oscar Cardozo would have converted his penalty, Spain probably wouldn’t have been in the final this Sunday. Copying this style of play might be a vital step for the Dutch towards beating Spain. Besides that, with Spain’s attacking full-backs not being accustomed to deep-lying wingers such as Kuyt and Robben, and Kuyt being perfectly able to encapsulate a strong attacking wingback such as Sergio Ramos, as he showed against Brazil’s Maicon, Spain’s vital attacking thrusts over the wings could be neutralized from the get go. As Holland is arguably the strongest opponent Spain faces during the Cup, the Dutch could just surprise everyone.
Because make no mistake; Holland has a real good chance of taking the Cup against this Spanish side. Beside the aforementioned, the team seems to have a genuine plan in play for tackling Spain’s fluid passing game. It could be very similar to the way Inter Milan won the Champions League, after utterly neutralizing all of FC Barcelona’s attacking prowess through organization and smart tactical play. Therefore, I see a good chance of the final tomorrow evolving into a very similar match as that between Inter Milan and FC Barcelona, with Holland trying to paralyze Spain’s play and using its class players up front to make the difference when its most needed. Good thing Holland has Inter Milan’s Wesley Sneijder on its side.
As always, Holland will be able to rely on its class players to come through. The above mentioned Sneijder, as well as Robben and yes, Robin van Persie, could just win the Cup for Holland, even if Holland’s play doesn’t improve from the last matches. Sneijder has been the most important player on the Dutch team and has been implicated in 8 of 12 Dutch goals, an incredible rate of effectiveness for any player. Robben provides Holland with venom, speed and a constant ability to score out of nowhere, just like he did for Bayern Munchen this season and did for Holland against Slovakia and Uruguay. Finally, Robin van Persie. He has been disappointing to put it mildly. At times he seems aloof and separated from the rest of the team. His performances have seen steady improvement though, with his contribution against Uruguay being particularly well-received. Still, he hasn’t been showing the same class he does in the Premier League. Let’s hope he finally does in Soccer City.
Finally, there’s the issue of the still awaited promise of this Holland squad. They played some fantastic matches during qualifying and in preparing for this World Cup, but as soon as the date turned 14 June, that all disappeared. Will this great form return in time? The final seems like the perfect time to try and do just that, much like Italy did against France in ’06. If the much admired ‘Naranja Mecanica’ finally returns from its disappearing act and starts working at full-speed, Holland will surprise the world.