From the Spanish bench

14:27, July 11, 2010      

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Henry Ford said 'history is bunk' and well, at least for this World Cup, I have to agree with the maker of the Model T.

For the first time in 32 years, none of the Big Three (Brazil, Italy, Germany) will be playing off for the kettle of fish come Monday morning our time.

I wrote before this tournament that Cup pedigree was the be-all and end-all, however Italy turned out to be too old, Brazil too over-rated and impressive Germany a little too young.

So that now leaves the Dutch and the Spaniards to battle it out for sport's greatest prize (outside of the Ashes, haha).

Due to contractual obligations, I am obliged to prefer Spain over the Netherlands and, after its semifinal demolition of Germany, it's not hard to find reasons why La Furia Roja will win.

This is a team in the pink of form and boasting the best marksman going around at the Cup in the 'ambi-footed' David Villa.

The European champions got off to a wobbly start at the group stage with a 1-0 loss to Switzerland and also struggled to a 2-1 victory over Chile before advancing.

However, the team has been steadily picking up momentum and is clearly the sweetest passing side of the tournament. But for some desperate German defense, that semi could and should have been a rout.

Germany badly missed talismanic midfielder Thomas Mueller but even his presence probably would not have severely dented Spain's total domination of the center of the pitch.

The long-range passing was pinpoint and the ball control of the receivers exceptional.

Also, let us not forget the Spanish defense, which is getting more and more stout with each game. Against the Germans it got back in numbers and hustled and bustled; not generally a trademark of Spanish teams of the past and a credit to coach Vincente del Bosque, who has more than a slight resemblance to Franco.

The Dutch forwards will try to run wide and hard at the Spaniards and rely on crossing the ball in on a team not overly blessed with height but to do that they will have to control the midfield and that will be no easy matter against a side that has the luxury of leaving players of the ilk of Cesc Fabregas and Fernando Torres on the bench.

Spain should be celebrating more than the running of the bulls in Pamplona on Monday morning.

Source: China Daily


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