Who's Up to the Cup? Either Spain or Netherlands Will Taste Victory for the F Irst Time

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), July 11, 2010 | Go to article overview

Who's Up to the Cup? Either Spain or Netherlands Will Taste Victory for the F Irst Time


Byline: Barry Wilner AP Sports Writer

JOHANNESBURG -- After all the bluster about Brazil and the awe inspired by Germany, the World Cup comes down to two of the all-time underachievers playing for their first title.

Spain and the Netherlands, teams with long histories of wasting their biggest opportunities, meet today at Soccer City to conclude the first World Cup held in Africa.

What began as a celebration of this continent, then turned into a South American fiesta for two rounds, finishes off with one European country discarding its also-ran label.

Which one?

"I am sure the Spanish can win any game because they are dominant and it's hard to contain their attack," Germany coach Joachim Loew said after his team lost 1-0 in the semifinals. "They have shown they can beat anyone."

Perhaps. But ...

"The Dutch can create a goal from any situation," coach Oscar Tabarez said after his Uruguay squad allowed three to the Netherlands, one more than it gave up in the rest of the tournament. "They play some beautiful football."

How nice it would be if this final featured just that: well-played, open, creative soccer. That's what both the Dutch and Spaniards do best. So if coaches Bert van Marwijk and Vicente del Bosque don't turn conservative all of a sudden, Sunday's showdown could turn into one entertaining shootout.

"I love attacking and beautiful football," the Netherlands' Van Marwijk said, "but you have to work together when the opponent has the ball and then you can go a long way."

The Dutch have gone a long way in the World Cup before. They simply couldn't finish it off in 1974 and 1978, losing in the final to host teams West Germany and Argentina. …

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