A new name to be engraved onto World Cup trophy

08:04, July 12, 2010      

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The Netherlands and Spain, the two of Europe's great footballing nations, are vying for the World Cup with the winner to be engraved onto the trophy for the first time.

While the Netherlands have become a pragmatic force who are difficult to defeat, Spain have been sneaking through games by the tightest of margins for the duration of the competition.

Of the two nations, the Oranje, widely known as "the best without winning the World Cup", have the greater World Cup pedigree. During the 1970s, they caught the world's imagination, yet twice they came up short in the final.

Favouring the Netherlands is the fact that they've had a full 24 hours more than Spain to rest prior to the final. Wesley Sneijder has been superb in the playmaking role, Arjen Robben looks sharp after injury, while Mark van Bommel has dictated things in the centre of the field.

For Spain, they have been walking along the tight rope throughout. After losing their opener 1-0 to Switzerland, Spain have scored five successive wins. Apart from the 2-0 win over Honduras, the first of the five, Spain won over Chile 2-1 in the last group match, and tiptoed through the knockout rounds by winning 1-0 in each of their three games, which have come against Portugal, Paraguay and Germany.

Yet, at no stage, they looked truly threatened. In all of their fixtures, the Spaniards have been on the front foot and found the decisive strike in the second half.

European champions from two years ago, the Spaniards may not have the World Cup pedigree of the Dutch, but they do certainly have the big game experience and winning mentality that allows them to start as favourites to go down in history as the first team from Europe to win the World Cup on a foreign continent.

On the players of both teams, Bert van Marwijk's side are in a state of excellent health. Though a handful of the top Oranje stars were rested from training on Friday, the coach will have a full complement of players to select.

Maarten Stekelenburg had caused some concern due to a hip problem, but he has been training normally, while the dental problems acquired by Demy de Zeeuw in the semifinal have been cleared. De Zeeuw and Khalid Boulahrouz will both drop to the bench as Gregory van der Wiel and Nigel de Jong return from suspension.

Spain coach Vicente del Bosque will also be able to field his first choice of eleven. That may mean Fernando Torres is once again on the bench, especially after Pedro produced such an exciting display in the semifinal. Raul Albiol is the main injury concern for La Roja, and it seems likely that he won't have a role to play on Sunday.

Source: Xinhua

Special Report: World Cup 2010


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