I don’t have enough time to write a full preview, but here’s what I think everyone can look forward to. Of course,by the time most of you read this, it will be too late, but oh well.
The Netherlands will have to pack the midfield if they are to win the game. I expect Kuyt to mark Ramos, van Bommel to mark either of Xavi or Iniesta (or perhaps de Jong will do that) and Robben to target Capdevila, Spain’s weakest defender. (Van Bommel may well target Xabi Alonso’s injured leg.) A moment of brilliance from Sneijder, Robben, or Van Persie will probably result in a Dutch goal, but a header off a set piece isn’t that unlikely.
Spain will rely on their midfield to maintain both composure and control, relying on Busquets not screwing up, and will win following their tried and tested system. The Dutch defense is not as good as the German was (see Brazil’s first goal for example) and the Spaniards will be counting on their ability to pick a perfect pass and on Villa/Pedro to finish it (I don’t think Torres will start, but he might, if only because Del Bosque wants to take the ‘safe’ option.)
On the refereeing side, will everyone please get off their high horses and accept that the referees, being human after all, will make mistakes. And they won’t be pretty. Let’s just hope that they don’t decide the game. Let this final be one that is NOT marred by controversial decisions. Please.
Dutch fans, look forward to Iniesta and Busquets getting fouled and falling to the ground in pain. A lot. Because they WILL get fouled. And their style of play asks for it – indeed, it often seems that Iniesta WANTS to draw fouls out of players, by doing quick flicks and then staying in place for the inevitably late challenge and then falling down. People will say that Spain are a bunch of divers. Perhaps we’ll see a few dives in the game. But most probably, most sides will see dives. And not every chap writhing on the floor is diving. Some do get hurt too, you know.
Spanish fans, look forward to tough challenges from the Dutch midfielders and defenders – and look forward to Howard Webb saying ‘get up and get on with it’. The players may well get wronged, but players like Busquets have developed a reputation through their own misdeeds and must now pay for it. Holland cannot afford to let Iniesta or Villa (those two in particular) run free, and will do their best to immobilize them. If the Spanish team is Barcelona with a few substitutes, then the way to defeat Spain is predicated upon the way to beat Barcelona – high intensity pressing and the use of tactical fouling (and of course counterattacks for the goals.)
I hope there are no controversies. I hope the game ends in 90 minutes. (I would hate to see penalties.)
Good luck to both teams.
And more luck to Spain.