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Netherlands v Spain

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19:30 (BST), 14:30 (EDT), 11:30 (PDT).

When I mentioned that an English ref is to officiate this match, I inexplicably failed to see the obvious connection: the last time Holland and (West) Germany met in a World Cup Final, 1974, was the last time an English ref officiated the match.

The Guardian has an excellent article on the state of the discipline regarding tactics.  In short, it looks as though we’re all going to be Barcelona clones . . . including the great Johan Cruyff.  Cruyff has always been something of a flake, and he does have mixed loyalties in this case, being both a Dutch and Barca legend, but can anybody imagine Sir Alex Ferguson supporting England over Scotland in a World Cup Final?

Most are predicting a Spanish victory.  While Spain is blessed with a sublime possession, passing game and creativity to spare, this article points out that the team is really predicated on a solid defence.  Spain conceded five goals in 20 qualification matches, and only two goals in their six World Cup matches.  It could be argued that this low rate of conceding goals is a direct function of their focus on possession: if the other guys don’t have the ball, it’s presumably a bit more difficult to score.  Furthermore, while I had considered Germany midfielder Mesut Ozil as my player of the tournament, this is rapidly being replaced with the Spanish Andrés Iniesta.

That said, I’m a partisan for this match.  I’m pulling for the Dutch.  Ga Oranje!

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