2010 FIFA World Cup Preview: Spain vs. The Netherlands
Good morning to you, I hope Sunday finds you happy and well. It's a big day in the football calender today, of course, it only comes around once every four years and for the two teams taking part and their fans it's one of the biggest days they'll ever experience in football.
I refer, of course, to the World Cup final. Extra spice is added to this final because we're guaranteed first-time world champions. For Holland, they're hoping it will be third time lucky after finishing runners up twice during the '70s, and for Spain the experience of a World Cup final is something entirely new.
I remember how I felt the day of Arsenal's one and only European Cup Final to date, there will be some serious, gut-churning tension in Spain today.
For my part, I have to say I'm very much behind the Dutch. During this World Cup they've sacrificed some of their wonderful football for sheer effectiveness, and it's done wonders for them (Arsene Wenger take note!). They've been nearly men for such a long time, and if any set of fans deserve to see their team lift a trophy, it's the Dutch. They brighten up every tournament, both literally and figuratively.
Spain, of course, have a large Barcelona contingent and I must admit that's a big reason for me backing the Dutch as well. Cesc Fabregas, despite his desperation to play , is likely to be used as a sub, if he features at all.
Instead, the likes of Xavi, Iniesta, and that Buckets fellow are likely to start for Spain. The Dutch would go up in my estimation considerably if come about half past nine this evening my television is showing me images of a weeping Xavi.
Despite my desire to see Holland win, though, I do have the feeling it's going to be Spain. Just as with Germany in the previous round, I feel that Spain will have a bit too much for Holland in the end. By no means do I think it will be easy, and I'm not saying Holland have no chance at all, but if I were placing a bet I'd be backing Spain.
Of course, there is Arsenal interest in this final. I've already covered Cesc Fabregas's likely assignment to the Spain bench, but Robin Van Persie will certainly start for Holland. He's yet to make a goal-scoring impact at the tournament, so hopefully he'll change that tonight.
Robin hasn't looked quite as sharp as he did for Arsenal when he returned from injury, the reasons for which I can only guess at, but as all Arsenal fans know, he's always capable of conjuring a moment of magic at any given moment.
Also in the Holland squad is the man having the greatest year in the world. It's not a bad old life for Wesley Sneijder at the moment, winner of the treble in Italy with Inter Milan, including the club's first European Cup for decades, an impressive World Cup and engaged to his supermodel girlfriend, all with a side of mountains and mountains of money.
I'm not jealous, no sir. Hopefully Sneijder can pull himself away from admiring his life long enough to make a telling contribution this evening.
Then of course, you have former Arsenal man Geovanni Van Bronckhorst, playing his last game as a professional footballer tonight. Not a bad way to go out I suppose, in the World Cup final, though I hope he doesn't choose to end his career in the same way as Zinedine Zidane did in the final four years ago. Unless he really headbutts Xavi hard.
On the Spain side, you feel the man to watch out for is the prolific David Villa. With Fernando Torres struggling to make an impact, Villa would appear to be the key man for Spain up front. Holland will have to be very good indeed to contain him, especially with the service to him coming from his new Barcelona teammates.
So far in this World Cup. a lot of the games between big-name sides have failed to live up to the hype, and World Cup finals are typically cagey affairs, but I will stick my neck out and say I have the feeling tonight's game will be something worth watching.
Both sides have it in them to make it a spectacle. Both sides have never won the World Cup before, and both sides have to go for it if they want to be the team lifting the trophy at the end of the evening. Let's hope for a classic.
So, turning our attention away from the World Cup, there's not a great deal to tell you about from an Arsenal perspective. That's to be expected on World Cup Final day. Of course, next weekend it's Arsenal's first preseason friendly at Barnet, so we'll have some actual Arsenal football to discuss which makes me positively giddy.
West Ham have apparently joined the race for Sol Campbell's signature. At this stage it's all down to what Sol wants from his football. If it's regular games then we can probably forget him signing with us again.
If, however, he's interested in playing at the top of the game for as long as possible then we may have a chance. Sol is off having his wedding and honeymoon at the moment anyway I believe, so it could be a little while yet before we hear anything.
Apparently Jack Wilshere will be discussing his options with Arsene Wenger when the manager returns from South Africa. I'm hoping Arsene will tell him that he's better off staying with Arsenal rather than going out on loan. I think Jack is good enough now to compete for a place at Arsenal, he can add something to our squad, and if he does that then international football will surely follow.
OK, that'll do for today. Here's to a good game later, and I shall return tomorrow.
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