World Cup Final Countdown: La Furia Roja v. Oranje

Ostensibly I should not have to write a preview of the World Cup final. You all read this site almost daily and have chosen a side for the final for better or worse, whether you are an old hat Dutchman, a lovely Spaniard, or just a fan of one of the teams. So instead of going through the inner workings of these two teams and telling you about how the Netherlands no longer play “Total Football” (nor could they or any other team in this day and age since the Germans figured out how to pick that lock about 35 years ago) or that La Furia Roja aren’t “Barça Lite”, they are FC Barcelona with 3 or 4 transplants. I will go through some of the myriad thoughts I have on the game and its players and you guys can knock it around in the comments as well.

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images North America

–Xavi. We of course take him for granted. “Oh yeah, the 5’8″ central mid, sure, he’s good” you might say. What we fail to take into account is his movement in space without the ball. The obvious key to Spain and Barcelona’s style of play is space and the ability to pass into space to open players. And we all know that he passes better than almost anyone alive, but what you might miss is that he runs into space. Wide open beautiful space that brings defenders with him and opens lanes up for teammates, like Iniesta, to move into.

–Sneijder. If the Dutch win tomorrow, he’s likely going to be named the Golden Ball winner barring some crazy heroics from David Villa in a losing effort. Sneijder has certainly been the most *visible* and probably popular member of the Oranje, and honestly his goals have been spectacular, if also very lucky. He’s looking to win the Champion’s League and the World Cup in one calendar year, which would give him 4 trophies on the year. I’m glad he left Madrid, personally.

–Stekelenburg. I’m sure you’ve seen me talk about him here a lot, but he’s truly been a revelation this tournament (the stinker against Forlan notwithstanding). For a player who was chronically labeled as Holland’s weakest link, leading many to beg Edwin van der Sar to come back, he has acquitted himself in a huge way. If not for his point blank saves after grievous defensive lapses against Slovakia, the Good Ship Netherlands would have been sunk by an inferior team punching above its weight. Barring some monumental collapse against Spain, he’s my #1 for Best XI.

–Busquets. Hey, don’t kill the messenger. Vincent of the Forest (and Pep for that matter) loves him some Sergio for a reason, and it’s not because his daddy was a goalkeeper at Barça a few years ago. A comment I made to Isaiah after the Germany game sort of brought it out to me, perhaps the reason you think he doesn’t play very well is because he doesn’t stand out when he’s doing what he’s supposed to. Against Paraguay he left the central defense exposed a couple of times, but against Germany, he was a rock. Completing a ridiculously high amount of passes, many of them very short, and you might complain about it, but that’s just what he does. He is Barcelona style in defense: pressing other defenders, linking with the rest of the midfield, winning balls, and the like. They complain about missing Senna or that Busquets stays home too much, but to me, he’s right where he needs to be.

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images Europe

–Netherlands. They can win this by mastering the counterattack game, not playing too terribly high in defense, and not “fearing” Spain’s possession by respecting it too greatly as Germany did. Then again, all these things are easier said than done. Sneijder, his luck notwithstanding, has been an absolute stud in orange this summer; his moves are too fast for many defenders. And as I, and many others, have said before, Robben’s cutting inside on the right is the Dutch offensive key; his dummy foot unlocks their world. Conversely, avoiding defensive lapses is their most obvious defensive responsibility. Allowing a replay of the Robinho goal or the Vittek shots will result in a rout.

–Spain. They will play their game, regardless of what the Dutch do. Xaviniesta will combine to make unleash hell from such a beautiful source. Ramos will maraud, like the dictators of yore. Pedro, well, his arms will flail when he runs, which means he is going to score (or that he has poor running form). Pressure on defense is the name of the game here, much more so than any other game they have played. With no pressure to ward off Sneijder and Robben, or allowing van Persie to take potshots, Spain will be undone. A replay of Paraguay from Pique, Puyol, and Busquets would be ill-advised, at best.

I can’t give you a prediction, I have just can’t seem to break it down. I’d say 2-1, but that seems all too predictable. Equally, 1-0 in either direction is unbelievable, as shutting either team out is highly unlikely. I don’t think the Netherlands will sit back, meaning goals will be there for the taking. So… 3-2?

This is a game between two teams who have never won the World Cup before. The two best teams never to have done so. Nike versus Adidas. The originators of Total Football and its spiritual successors. In the end, it was what we thought it was. Go forth and enjoy.

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  1. vicsoc8
    July 10, 2010

    Honestly, I see this as a 1-0 game. Despite both teams having a stronger attack than defense they will both come out tentative. I think this will be a very cagey match with Spain dominating possession, and wither Spain will finally find a way through, or Netherlands will nip one on a set piece or a counter attack.

    If I pass on a 1-0 prediction, my second prediction is whoever scores first will win.

  2. Jnice
    July 10, 2010

    Nice preview, Luke.

    I think this will be 2-1 to Spain. Nothing against the Dutch, but I want my Barça boys to come into preseason with their confidence and morale boosted.

    Also, when someone criticizes Spain, I feel like they are criticizing Barça and I don’t want that to happen.

  3. Jose
    July 10, 2010

    I want to say 1-0 Spain, but I think maybe 2-0 Spain, with the second coming in late.

  4. Kari
    July 10, 2010

    Annoying detail picking commenter alert:

    Xavi’s 5’6″-ish (he, Messi and Andresito are all the same height).

    • Luke
      July 11, 2010

      I give him the benefit of the doubt. I’d be surprised if he was actually 5’6″, he’s tiny.

  5. fcbfan
    July 10, 2010

    So which of our guys will score, other than Villa. I hope P!

    Look out for MVB!

    Can’t wait for this game.

  6. Kari
    July 11, 2010

    Barca – Bayern CL quarters from 2009. Go to 2:50 and you see the Van Bommel elbow on Messi. Actually 3:38 is even worse since it’s RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE REF (who was, surprise, surprise, Howard Webb). I don’t know if he got booked.


    Xavi, Iniesta, live!

    • Luke
      July 11, 2010

      I hope FIFA came to Webb and told him that he has to watch Van Bommel for his bullshit. Rumors going around that FIFA have warned about certain players.

  7. July 11, 2010

    I’ll be at a Netherlands party…I win $100 (lucky draw in a pool) if Netherlands wins….so technically I’ll be rooting for NL…but I’ll be wearing a Spanish bull teashirt under my Orange Jersey. I just hopes if NL pulls it off it’s with some Sneider magic not some Van Bommel elbow or fast bald dude(sorry, it’s late) diving hystronics.

    Viva Nuetrals!!

  8. July 11, 2010

    i have chosen my love for the club over country here.
    too many barca players for me to ignore.

    van bommel is the key player imo.
    i believe he will injure one player from barca.
    on a xavi 360degree turn or something.
    watch out for him!

  9. poipoi
    July 11, 2010

    anything can happen it’s 90 min, we can suffer a dramatic loss it’s in our DNA (in both, Spanish and Dutch) but to me spain is the best side, I’d only borrow kuyt from the dutch starting 11. I mean we have iker puyi xavi busi iniesta villa and they play like a team. Besides, Del Bosque can change the game as he pleases with the kind of bench Spain has (Torres Lorrente Silva Pedro!** Cesc Navas).

    And just for the god of party, Spain has to win today, I don’t wanna think what can happen if we win, the euro was OK but this… oh man. We are about to beat the main suppliers of tourists searching for party in Spain, the so called “guiris”, Germany and now Holland … oh yes! Next year England!!!

    ** – hope p! starts 😀

    btw… it really doesn’t matter but it wouldn’t have hurt to have xavi in a spanish jersey

    • July 11, 2010

      holland has the most tourists in Spain?
      i didnt know that. i do know that spain is a top destination.

      was supposed to go to barcelona in 1998 but my mom conceived my brother.
      and after that we left the continent. but I’LL BE BACK as my best friend from teenage years is in barcelona

      • poipoi
        July 11, 2010

        well didn’t know the numbers I had to look it up… official data from “el ministerio de turismo” 😉

        germany 17’6% of all tourists – 82 million population
        england 15’8% of all tourists – 51 million population
        holland 4’5% of all tourists – 41 million population

        could be ’cause I live in the mediterranean area, but I thought holland had a bigger percentage 😀

  10. Kxevin
    July 11, 2010

    Will be rocking a Catalunya NT shirt and pulling for our boys. I think it will be a low-scoring affair, that might even require extra time before a winner is sorted. I think the final will be 2-1 Barc….I mean Spain.

    • July 11, 2010

      kinda sad to see us up there.
      but roma??fulham?? how are they on the list?

      what contributes to these high debts besides wages and transfers?

      • Kxevin
        July 11, 2010

        It depends. There is healthy debt and unhealthy debt. In our case, it’s success-based expenditures (contract sweetenings, raises, incentive bonuses, etc), coupled with the high costs of running a world-class club.

        What’s odd about the list is that in some cases there is the expense to success formula. Then Fulham goes and messes that up.

        Most comez from transfers and wages. Imagine our costs if 7 of our starting XI weren’t home raised. Our debt is actually “healthy” debt, such as it is. Note also that the numbers fly in the face of Rosell’s dire predictions.

    • Blow-Grenade
      July 11, 2010

      That is sick. It is a lot of debt these clubs have put on.

  11. July 11, 2010

    In other news, Filipe Luis’ price has been set at 12-15m, cash on the button. And Lendoiro has promised no shenanigans this time. He also thinks of Rosell as a “good friend,” which might or might not grease the skids. Given that Filipe Luis can play right or left back but also central defense, this would seem to be a no-brainer deal that is worth doing.

    • July 11, 2010

      I didnt know he plays as a right fullback. There is one thing that makes me strongly veto this move, its his name. His full name I mean. Filipe Luís Kasmirski. That Kasmirski tone brings me some unpleasant memories as we hit that note before and the music was not that cheerful.

      • Kxevin
        July 11, 2010

        Have faith, Ramzi. If the deal gets done, it will kill all those ugly memories.

  12. Bundy
    July 11, 2010

    What about his terrible injury? is he still recovering or is he 100%

  13. Jnice
    July 11, 2010

    I don’t think Filipe can play right back, but we have Maxwell who didn’t look bad when played there, so it can work out.

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