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Logic says Spain, but heart for Oranje

The World Cup comes to its exhilarating zenith on Sunday night at Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg, writes Ruud Gullit.

india Updated: Jul 11, 2010 02:32 IST
Ruud Gullit
Ruud Gullit
Hindustan Times

The World Cup comes to its exhilarating zenith on Sunday night at Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg. For those of us who have been here all month, it is a moment to celebrate not just the new world champions but also to say goodbye to the wonderful people of South Africa, the vuvuzelas, the jabulani, the colours and images that have made this World Cup unique.

The finale of a World Cup is a brutal, tense, 90-minute game where the players are well conscious of carrying their nation's hopes and aspirations under the glare of three billion TV spectators. With aching muscles and beating hearts, the players will have to keep their wits intact if they are to attain football immortality.

Holland have lost twice in the finals — in 1974 and 1978. European champions Spain play their first final, hoping to complete a double sweep of titles, like Germany in 1974 and France in 1998. For us Dutch fans, this has been the best World Cup since 1974.

Coach Van Marwijk has created a well-oiled Oranje machine that is efficient if not spectacular. The key to his 14-game winning streak are Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder. Close to them in midfield, Dirk Kuyt runs himself into the ground feeding them balls. Robin Van Persie is the lone striker of this team.

Spain will have to contain these four talents that alternate roles without fixed forward positions. Holland have been more effective in the second half of their games, when their opponents lose steam.

The defensive line of the Dutch is composed of Boulahrouz, Hietinga, Mathijsen and Van Bronckhorst and they have not been watertight.

Brazil scored one and could have scored more. Uruguay scored two. If Holland are to beat Spain, they must find a way to contain David Villa, Torres or Pedro.

The Spanish domination starts from their Barcelona midfield of Iniesta, Xabi, Xavi Alonso and Busquets, who play one-touch football by memory and keep 70 per cent ball possession. They know that if they have the ball, the other team can't score. With patience, they weave the ball through, looking for David Villa to convert.

Logic may say Spain, but my heart and soul are for my beloved Netherlands to bring home the Cup.

First Published: Jul 11, 2010 02:30 IST