Netherlands coach Bert Van Marwijk thinks the only category where his team suffers in comparison to World Cup final opponent Spain is beauty of play. When it comes to the rest, the two can go head-to-head.
When Van Marwijk looks at Spain, he sees the world's best team of the past few years and the playing style of a Barcelona side that has been the bane of clubs all over Europe for the past few years. "We play well. Spain plays well, but they are more attractive and this is where we want to get too," Van Marwijk told reporters. When Van Marwijk heard that Dirk Kuyt was quoted as saying that Spain are a collection of individuals while the Dutch are a "team", he quickly countered by noting how impressive it was to see the Spanish players immediately start pressuring opponents once they had lost possession.
"When they lose the ball, they immediately join in, their big stars too. It is something we also do well," Van Marwijk said. Van Marwijk said his team must be less haphazard in front of goal to counter Spain during Sunday' final. And with no injury worries, he has the fearsome trio of Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder and Robin van Persie at his disposal.
Sneijder, the World Cup's joint top scorer with five goals, said the team has to show more "guts" when in possession, seeking depth and speed instead of the steady buildup work for which the Dutch have been known over the past weeks.
"We have to shed our inhibitions," Sneijder said. While the Dutch have netted seven goals in the three knockout-round games compared to Spain's three, Van Marwijk is still a bit worried about his team's scoring touch.
Often the Netherlands has won by one goal only, in games where more efficiency in front of goal could have turned it into a rout. Against Uruguay, it won the semifinal 3-2 but could have put the game beyond doubt much earlier had the forwards shown more poise. "We have been messy," Van Marwijk said. "We've had spells with brilliant attacks, yet we forgot to score. That though, can change within a match."
He's hoping Van Persie will be the one to make it change. The winger turned striker was out for much of the season with Arsenal because of a right ankle injury which needed surgery, and he is still seeking his best form.
"He improved the last game," Van Marwijk said. "He will play his best game in the final."
Sneijder said if the Netherlands could improve efficiency, Spain too had its weak moments, especially when it struggled past Paraguay in the quarterfinals.
"It was not a pretty sight," he said.
The Inter Milan playmaker said the Dutch had to keep on building on their sterling record of a perfect qualifying campaign of eight wins plus an unbeaten string at the World Cup.
"We won every qualifying game, every game here. We are not going to allow that Spain beats us now," Sneijder said.