The 2010 World Cup final: key clashes

by Charlie Coffey

Friday, July 9th, 2010

Heaven forbid I should ever contradict the wisdom of Paul the psychic octopus, but if I were an octopus, I too would have sucked the mussels from the yellow and red box. I think the game will be tight, as Spain’s three consecutive 1-0 wins suggest, and apart from the performances of the two stars so far, David Villa and Wesley Sneijder (who are also competing for the golden boot), the winners of the 2010 World Cup could ultimately be decided by several key clashes:

Arjen Robben vs. Joan Capdevila:

If there is a weakness in this emperious Spain side most would point to Capdevila. Suggestions before the tournament were that he lacks pace, but he has not looked too sluggish so far. Germany missed a chance to test him with the energy of Thomas Muller on Wednesday but Capdevila had an excellent game and easily dealt with the limited threat of Piotr Trochowski.

Robben, however, is the best winger in the world at the moment; his performances in South Africa so far have eclipsed those of even Leo Messi. His pace and trickery against an isolated Capdevila are the Netherlands’ best hope of a breakthrough. Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique will have to be on their toes to cover their left-back should he be beaten.

Mark van Bommel vs. Xavi

Van Bommel has performed well so far, but will have to be careful against Xavi. Being combative is no use when you are chasing shadows. The Netherlands captain, despite a number of agricultural challenges, has somehow only received one yellow card so far, but Spain’s tiki taka could well frustrate him and draw clumsy tackles. In this regard he could be helped by referee Howard Webb, who isn’t too frivolous with his cards.

Xavi has translated his startling consistency from club to country without breaking sweat. World Cup final? Just another game for the little-big man and his metronomic passing game. It is only when you look at his stats that you realise just how good he is: He has made almost 100 more passes than anyone else in the tournament with 563 (2nd: Sergio Busquets (466), 3rd: Xabi Alonso (465)), and has also created the most goal-scoring chances – 25 – eight ahead of Kevin-Prince Boateng and Mesut Ozil.

Sergio Ramos vs. Giovanni van Bronkhorst

Not an obvious clash, but if Spain occupy the Dutch defence by keeping possession in their half as they did so well in the second half against Germany then the late overlap – at pace – of Ramos down the right could provide the spare man to unlock the Netherlands. Ramos has looked to get forward whenever he can for Spain, and this will be no different on Sunday, even if it is the World Cup final.

Gio van Bronkhorst has belied his 35 years so far, but the intensity and athleticism of Ramos could be too much for him. Dutch fans will be hoping for another thunder bolt from his trusty left foot, but it is doubtful that he will get time and space to do so.

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  • Mike

    This World Cup final has been a bowl of w**k so far. Seriously… fouling Dutch, Spain can’t get any fluency- what is going on!

  • Stevie

    The Dutch were terrible, so negative, stop Spain and hope to nick a goal. Woeful

    Well done to Spain though, didn’t sell out

  • dexylongshot

    I loved it, ok the first half was a bit boring but at least everyone was getting stuck in, maybe a bit much. Webb is getting some stick but i think considering the amount of tackles going in from both sides, he did well. All the refs i have heard on the radio, tv and in the paper reports agree too.

    I’m wearing my Spain top today and they did deserve to win the tournament. They played some breathtaking football at times & the sight of Casillas crying at the end even got me a bit moist around the eyeballs. The interview with his missus on youtube got me a bit moist as well, lucky git! I had enjoyed watching the Dutch throughout the compo but felt a bit let down by their over the top antics last night. Van bommel is surely up there with Suerez as panto villan of the tournament and De Jong seemed to be doing a Bruce Lee which surely will be remembered as much as Iniestas strike at the death.

    Anyway, Viva Espana, the La Roja roll on and I reckon they could be going for 3 in a roll at The Euros in 2012, i’m chucking on a tenner now.

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