Throughout history, there have been many memorable World Cups, and this year in South Africa, we have not seen an exception to this as we now get ready to close down shop in the rainbow nation.
From vuvuzelas to the Jabulani ball and controversial goal line calls to beautiful stadiums, penalty shootouts and miracles, this World Cup has been one for the ages.
But of course, we still have one event to look forward to between the Netherlands and Spain called the World Cup final.
And after 63 grueling matches in South Africa, we will now get to see the World Cup final as the Netherlands face Spain in Soccer City with the winner netting their first ever World Cup title.
Referee's For This Match:
Head Referee: Howard Webb (England)
Linesmen: Mike Mullarkey (England) and Darren Cann (England)
Fourth Official: Yuichi Nishimura (Japan)
Fifth Official: Toru Sagara (Japan)
Webb, Mullarkey and Cann all called the Champions League final back in May between Bayern Munich and Inter Milan, and have altogether refereed three matches in this World Cup.
Those three matches were: Spain 0 Switzerland 1 (group stage, Slovakia 3 Italy 2 (group stage) and Brazil 3 Chile 0 (round of 16).
Nishimura and Sagara both were part of the Japanese crew that officiated the Netherlands v Brazil match in the quarterfinals (among others) to date.
Overall, the three English referees will allow a more physical game than most, and Webb has not given out any red cards and penalties during the tournament.
However, Webb has given out an incredible 17 cautions in this World Cup in just three matches, marking an average of 5.67 yellow cards per match (most of any referee in this World Cup).
The Stadium: Soccer City (Johannesburg)
Soccer City has already hosted seven matches in this World Cup, with some extremely famous moments in this World Cup.
This was the venue where the opening match of the World Cup was played, where Argentina's Gonzalo Higuain had his hat trick and where Luis Suarez's handball denied Ghana the chance to get into the round of 16.
Now, it will host the World Cup final in what will be this stadium's biggest ever moment since its recent renovation.
Played 8: Holland 4 wins, Draws 1, Spain 3 wins
1957: (Madrid, Friendly): Spain 5 Holland 1
1973: (Amsterdam, Friendly): Holland 3 Spain 2
1980: (Vigo, Friendly): Spain 1 Holland 0
1983: (Seville, ECQ): Spain 1 Holland 0
1983: (Rotterdam, ECQ): Holland 2 Spain 1
1987: (Barcelona, Friendly): Spain 1 Holland 1
2000: (Sevilla, Friendly): Spain 1 Holland 2
2001: (Rotterdam, Friendly): Holland 1 Spain 0
List Of Results Of Each Match Played So Far In World Cup:
Netherlands 2 Denmark 0
Netherlands 1 Japan 0
Cameroon 1 Netherlands 2
Netherlands 2 Brazil 1
Uruguay 2 Netherlands 3
Spain 0 Switzerland 1
Spain 2 Honduras 0
Chile 1 Spain 2
Spain 1 Portugal 0
Paraguay 0 Spain 1
Germany 0 Spain 1
Holland have won their last 14 games in the World Cup qualifiers and finals, an all-time record.
This will be Netherlands third appearance in a World Cup final, but it would be the first time that they aren’t facing the host nation in the final match. This will be the first time Spain have made it to the final game of the tournament.
David Villa has scored six of Spain’s last eight goals at World Cup finals. And he is on 43 goals, just one goal away from joining Raul as Spain’s top scorer of all time.
If Spain win the World Cup they will become the first team ever to be World champions after losing their opening game.
West Germany (1982) and Argentina (1990) both reached the World Cup final after losing the opening match, but lost their respective finals.
The Dutch will have Nigel de Jong and Gregory van der Wiel back from suspension for this World Cup final, which will force Demy de Zeeuw and Khalid Boulahrouz onto the bench.
Maarten Stekelenburg, Demy de Zeeuw and Arjen Robben all will be fit for this match despite having recent injuries.
For the most part, Spain don't have any problems except for Raul Albiol's fibula injury he acquired in training about two weeks ago.
However, it is unknown if manager Vicente Del Bosque will start Fernando Torres for this World Cup final after his weak play in this World Cup.
The first key player for the Netherlands will be midfielder Wesley Sneijder .
Sneijder of course has had a fantastic World Cup and is the main play maker for the Dutch.
The second key player to watch for the Dutch will be Mark van Bommel.
Throughout this World Cup, van Bommel has shown the world that he is a great agitator, and he will need to be at his best if the Dutch are to win this World Cup final.
The first key player for Spain in this World Cup final will be their own play maker: Xavi .
Xavi of course was the UEFA Player of the tournament for Euro 2008, and has set up numerous chances for the Spanish attack in this World Cup, just like he does for his club side Barcelona.
The other key player to watch here will be Gerard Pique .
Pique had a fantastic match against Germany in the semifinal, and must be at his best once again here in the final if Spain are to win.
Biggest Key to Victory:
The Dutch must be able to shut down the Spanish midfield, but especially Xavi.
Xavi is the heart of the Spanish attack, and shutting him down is the only known way to really beat Spain.
Spain must be sure to not get caught sending too many men forward on the attack as the Dutch counterattack can be lethal.
Spain already lost to the Swiss via the counterattack, and cannot allow that to happen again as they will lose again if they get caught like this again.
Projected Lineups and Tactical Formations:
Van der Wiel Heitinga Mathijsen Van Bronckhorst
Van Bommel De Jong
Robben Sneijder Kuyt
Pedro Xavi Iniesta
Ramos Pique Puyol Capdevila
Total Football's Effect On This Final:
One of the most notable links between these two sides is the history of total football that these two sides share.
Of course, the Dutch helped to popularize total football back in the early 1970s and went to two World Cup finals in the 1970s with that style.
Today, Spain are the international side that is closest to total football, as they use parts of it in their play today while the Dutch don't use it at all.
Spain truly got introduced to total football when Johan Cruyff was Barcelona manager.
The X-factor in this match will be which manager has a stronger impact on their players.
So far, Spanish manager Vicente Del Bosque and Dutch manager Bert van Marwijk have been extremely quiet, but have helped to keep their respective sides together.
Now, whoever gets the most out of their players from the training pitch and through inspiration will be the winner of this match.
Mani the Parakeet's Pick:
In case you don't know who Mani the Parakeet is, he is a Singapore-based parakeet who correctly chose all four sides in the semifinals over a week ago.
Mani has chosen the Dutch to win this World Cup by picking up the Dutch card over the Spanish card.
Paul the Octopus' Pick:
The most popular cephalopod mollusk of this World Cup, Paul the Octopus chose Spain to beat Germany, and has picked Spain to beat the Netherlands in the final.
Paul did this by picking up a mussel out of one of two clear boxes and in this case, Paul (with seven correct picks already in this World Cup) chose Spain.
My Prediction :
After hearing two neutral parties picks, now here is my pick for the 19th World Cup final.
These are two evenly matched sides that deserve to be here, but this match will truly be won in the midfield.
And the play of Mark van Bommel will truly decide who wins here, as I predict that he will be able to shut down Xavi with some strong tackles and will allow the Dutch to hold the football for a significant part of the final.
By doing this, the Dutch midfield will be able to continue their great play in this World Cup by getting some great scoring opportunities together and keep the ball in the Spanish end by using the wings.
By doing this, the Dutch will expose the Spanish defense that will get exhausted from the Dutch counterattack before passing the ball into the middle of field for some great scoring opportunities for the attack.
And with that in mind, my final prediction for the 2010 FIFA World Cup final is this:
Netherlands 3 Spain 1
Finally, this World Cup final will be a match for the ages as we get two extremely talented sides who will face each other in an epic World Cup final.
Whoever wins this match will deserve it as they proved they are the best international footballing nation in the world, and the winner will be worthy of that honor.