The greatest show on earth comes to an end this evening as Holland and Spain lock horns to decide which is the world’s best footballing nation.
Actually, we all know that Spain are the best on the planet but whether or not they justify it with their first ever World Cup win remains to be seen. They should do the business tonight, and are best-priced at 11/10 to take the world crown.
The only thing really standing in Spain’s way is their own profligacy in front of goal. Remarkably, Honduras are the only team La Furia Roja have beaten by more than one goal in the entire tournament. They suffer from an Arsenal-like insistance of trying to pass the ball into the net rather than just scoring when they get the chance – and don’t let’s forget Vicente Dl Bosque’s men actually lost their opening match to Switzerland.
Holland, on the other hand, have gone 25 matches unbeaten, have knocked out Brazil and have been single-handedly taken into the final by the inspirational Wesley Sneijder, who has managed to join Villa, Thomas Muller and Diego Forlan at the top of the scorers’ charts with five goals.
Holland are a good counterattacking team but, as Germany found out to their cost in the semi-finals, there is no point in being a good counterattacking side against Spain if you can’t actually get the ball off them. And how do you wrest possession from a side that can’t even find room for Cesc Fabregas in the line-up?
There is only one answer to that question and it is: Mark van Bommel. If he manages to maim Xavi, Alessandro Iniesta and David Villa, which is not inconceivable on current form, then the Dutch have a chance.
But Van Bommel shot himself, rather than someone else for a change, in the foot by admitting yesterday that he gets away with his serial offending by sweet-talking match officials before matches in order to get them onside, before setting about taking out more opponents than Sly Stallone in Rambo III. Howard Webb might now have his number – which is one of the reasons backing a red card at 5/2 might be a wise move.
The other answer to beating Spain, though, is by getting to them from within. After they lost to Switzerland the Spanish press laid the blame at the door of goalkeeper Iker Casillas, who was apparently distracted by his touchline reporter girlfriend Sara Carbonero.
Poor guy. It’s bad enough putting up with the Missus at home but you really don’t need her on your case when you’re at work. I’m not sure whether he was put off by the nagging – or by the fact that she is quite possibly the single-most hot female to have ever left Spanish shores – but somehow she unnerved him.
So maybe this is the way forward for the Oranje. We all know how temperamental the Spaniards are. Van Bommel should save his sweet-talking for Mrs Casillas. Perhaps he should agree to an intimate pre-match interview and cop a quick feel when El Capitan is looking. It’s the sort of booking you’d happily take for the team.