Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Final: Spain v. Holland

Hooray! Spain v. Holland in the final is a dream match-up this year. Great that neither of the two finalists have ever won it before, and that that is the case on a continent where the Cup has never been played before.

Brazil, though dear to my heart, has won it five times previously and will win it again in four years at home; Germany has won the cup several times already; France were unworthy, egocentric blowhards; Italy weren't good enough; England were, as always, an entertaining diversion. Uruguay were inspirational, but are happily eliminated. Holland is truly one of the best teams around. Spain is incredible.

In their last game, you could see that the key Dutch players had seemingly resolved whatever differences existed, and were playing to their potential. Van Bommel has really become a commanding presence in the center of the pitch. On their day, there is no stopping the Robben/Schneider/Van Persie combination.

Many are picking Spain to win this Cup. I hope they do -- my missus is half-Catalan; my favorite team is Barcelona; many on the Spanish national team are Barca players. But I want them to win mostly because I admire the way they play -- the way they hold possession and steadily build their attacks though a combination of passing moves and individual technique. I like that there is dynamism in the team -- they are tough in defense, thoughtful in midfield, quick on the wings and skillful in attack. There is also great cohesion in the team. When the attacking-midfielders and forwards are having difficulty breaking through the opposition defense, a defensive midfielder or full-back will move forward to provide another option. In defense, the forwards will drop back to recover possession. Also, everyone in the team defends -- a Barca tactic of late that has translated well to the national side.

Will Kuyt and Van Bommel control the game? Or will it be once again the Xavi and Villa show? My hope is for the latter, but will be entertained in any case by this historic game.

Happy watching!

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