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Reina hoping for text-book Spain win
Published : 08 Jul 2010 15:16:00Rss feed
Pepe Reina has already exchanged jubilant text messages with Liverpool team-mate Dirk Kuyt in anticipation of Sunday's World Cup final. Kuyt was first to make contact following Holland's victory over Uruguay in Cape Town on Tuesday. Twenty-four hours later it was Reina's turn to respond after Spain had booked their first appearance on the game's greatest stage by overcoming German resistance. The chat will continue to be jovial for the next couple of days. But Reina knows by the final whistle, only one man will be celebrating. And he is confident it will be him. "I have been in touch with Dirk and I heard from him before and after the game," said Reina. "He wished us luck yesterday and now it is 100% certain that Liverpool will have a World Cup winner. "That is something to be proud of at least but hopefully on Sunday Dirk won't be that happy." Almost certainly, Reina will be restricted to a watching brief, as he has been all the way through the tournament. The lot of a number two keeper may be dripping with opportunity if you are behind Robert Green in the pecking order, as David James was before the West Ham keeper's woeful error in England's opening game against the United States, but not if the number one is also the team's captain. If Reina was English, he would be an automatic choice. With Spain he must act as chief support to Iker Casillas, whilst also holding off the challenge of Barcelona's Champions League-winning keeper Victor Valdes. It means Reina will be watching Sunday's game from the bench rather than starring in it. And he expects to see a typically industrious display from Kuyt. "We all know Dirk's game," said Reina. "He does an awful lot of work and we know how important he is for the team. "He is a top-class player. It is going to be really tough for us to stop him on Sunday because, as everyone knows, he never stops running." If Kuyt's boundless energy was the limit of Holland's talents, Spain would be cruising towards their first World Cup this weekend. But they have other attributes as well. Robin van Persie is proving to be an excellent battering ram, allowing Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder to exploit the space behind in a manner England couldn't do. "Holland have a lot of strengths," said Reina. "I don't have enough fingers to count them all. "If they are in the final by beating good teams like Brazil it is because they fully deserve to be there. Sunday is going to be really difficult." Nevertheless, Spain still start as overwhelming favourites to exert a superiority that has been evident since that scorching run to Euro 2008 glory in Vienna. There was one wobble against the United States at last summer's Confederations Cup, and the poor form of Fernando Torres has deprived Spain of the cutting edge their brilliant passing game requires for it to be truly effective. But it has not stopped them moving to the brink of history; their first World Cup triumph and the first team since West Germany in 1972 and 1974 to follow a European Championship triumph by lifting the biggest prize two years later. "We have made history because we have reached our first final, but we want more than that," said Reina. "Finals mean nothing unless you win them. We have to do that. That is our target. "Yesterday was a complete performance but there is a lot of work to do between now and Sunday. "There is a lot of pressure on us because we won Euro 2008. We have always been one of the favourites. Now we are favourites once again. "But the main thing is to remain loyal in the way we play and be confident it will bring us the right result. "We have to keep the same philosophy that brought us here in the first place. "It is hard to win a World Cup final and we are just one step away."
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