World Cup 2010: Holland v Spain

Sunday 11 July, 7.30pm
Soccer City, Johannesburg

Previous meetings

Surprisingly, the two teams have played each other only nine times, with each side winning four and one draw. But the Dutch have had much the better of recent meetings: Spain's last win came way back in 1983, since when Holland have come out on top three times out of four.


The two sides share a desperation to win what would be their first-ever World Cup. "We are so close to writing history," said Dirk Kuyt. "This is the third time we have reached the final. Now we have to win it. We felt before the tournament we had the quality in the team to win it. We are so close. There is nothing bigger than the World Cup." Spain's Gerard Piqué says: "It's a great chance for us to make history and win the World Cup. Other squads have the experience of winning the World Cup in the past, but it is our dream."

Key clash

Mark van Bommel has drawn praise and rage in almost equal measure with his performances during the tournament, providing an effective shield in front of his defence if a little prone to committing niggly fouls. The 33-year-old will need to ensure that he keeps his discipline iron tight against a side that loves to pass the ball across and around the area he normally polices, and avoid getting sucked into failed challenges on the likes of Xavi.

The managers

The 59-year-old Vicente del Bosque has spent the vast majority of his adult life as an employee of Real Madrid, and has just one, brief experience of life outside his country – an unproductive year at the Turkish club Besiktas. The Holland coach, Bert van Marwijk is 19 months younger than his managerial opponent and considerably more itinerant. He and also had one unhappy spell outside his country, at the Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund. Both coaches took charge in 2008, since when Del Bosque has largely stuck with an already successful side, but Van Marwijk has made extensive tactical changes.


Simon Burnton

The GuardianTramp

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