Martin Keown - Spanish style will beat Dutch desire
Published: 10 Jul 2010 - 13:47:32
Prior to the big kick-off in South Africa, I was one of the many pundits that predicted a Spain versus Brazil World Cup final.
And while I might have only got half of my prediction correct, the Netherlands fully deserve their place in Sunday's showpiece event.
Bert Van Marwijk's side might not play with the pace and fluidity of the Spanish, but they have still managed to find the winning formula with their own disciplined, hard-working style.
They aren't as exciting or free-flowing as the famous Dutch sides of the 1970s, but they are more balanced and organised than any previous orange incarnation.
In Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben they have two world class individuals, both of whom have showed their considerable ability during the run to the final.
Mark Van Bommel and Nigel De Jong have both been superb sitting in front of the back-four and doing the dirty work - breaking down attacks and keeping it simple.
Robin Van Persie has had a poor tournament by his high standards but he now has something to prove heading into the biggest game of his career in Johannesburg on Sunday.
Van Persie and co will need to be at the absolute top of their game if they are to have any chance of leaving Soccer City stadium with the famous trophy in hand.
Spain started the tournament slowly but have gradually found their feet and form as the games have gone on.
In Wednesday's semi-final Vicente Del Bosque's side were excellent from start to finish, dominating possession and reducing the prolific Germans to a couple of scrappy half-chances. Watching the game, it looked like only a matter of time until Spain would score.
All of their outfield players like to keep the ball on the ground, hold onto possession and only take a couple of touches. It really is great to watch and in my opinion it's the way the game should be played.
That's not to say the Dutch won't put up a fight against Andres Iniesta and the rest of the Spain's masterful midfield. They are more than capable of playing great football as we've seen in glimpses during impressive wins over Brazil and Uruguay in the last two rounds.
Sunday's final will be one for the purists - those that appreciate the beautiful game for how it should be played.
Unfortunately for the Netherlands, Spain's class of 2010 may reduce them to mere spectators on football's biggest stage.
MARTIN KEOWN WILL BE BLOGGING EXCLUSIVELY FOR FOOTBALL.CO.UK FROM SOUTH AFRICA
- FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:Martin Keown
- Ex-England defender and Arsenal legend Martin Keown went to two World Cups as a player, so he knows what it takes to get the Edge against the best teams in the world. He'll be giving us expert insights and opinion from South Africa throughout the tournament at http://www.facebook.com/lucozadesportfootball.
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