It's been almost one month since South Africa and Mexico got the FIFA World Cup started in Soccer City. This Sunday - 63 games later - the Netherlands and Spain close up shop with what could be an instant classic.
This will mark the first time that either one of these two countries will win the FIFA World Cup Trophy (that's the trophy's name); becoming just the eighth team to win the tournament. This will be Spain's first time in the final game, while the Netherlands played the role of bridesmaid on two occasions in the `70s.
Here are five keys to watch in Sunday's match.
The Netherlands' defense
The defense displayed from the Dutch in South Africa has been good - except when they give up goals. In the quarterfinal match against Brazil, the Netherlands' defense failed to close in on Felipe Melo. He was able to send a low pass to Robinho who then scored to put Brazil up 1-0. The Netherlands made the same mistake against Uruguay, and Diego Forlan punished them with a beautiful strike from distance.
They'll be playing a Spanish side that thrives on finding those open gaps in the defense to score goals. If the Dutch wish to celebrate in Amsterdam, the defense has to plug those holes quickly.
Spain's defense has been stingy in the World Cup - they've produced three straight shutouts and have only given up two goals in the entire tournament. That's not a testament to a great Spanish defense, but to a great offense. Spain's philosophy is the key to great defense is a great offense. Not that the Spanish are lighting up the scorecard, but they are keeping possession of the ball. Spain has won the possession battle in their three elimination games, and will look to continue that trend against the Netherlands.
Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben
The Netherlands' offense will be spurred by these two gentlemen. Both players tallied in their semifinal win over Uruguay, and Sneijder is tied with five goals for the Golden Boot award. Both these guys are going to have to do their best to keep the ball away from Spain to reduce the possession. And when they get the chance, both Sneijder and Robben will have to do their best to put points on the board.
Like a Phil Niekro knuckler
The FC Barcelona striker is currently tied with Sneijder with five goals in the race for the Golden Boot - the award for the top goal-scorer in the World Cup. Before the semis against Germany, Villa had scored in five straight games. The way the Dutch have been leaving gaps on defense, Villa will be more than happy to fill them himself and score a goal - and hopefully win the World Cup and the Boot.
As the official soccer ball of the FIFA World Cup, the Jabulani ball has received tons of criticism from players and coaches alike. The ball seems to have a "knuckle effect," which makes long range shots unpredictable - so the criticism states.
It wasn't the case for Dutchman Giovanni Von Bronckhorst, who had a beauty of strike for the Netherlands' first goal against Uruguay. Unfortunately for his teammate, goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg, the equalizing strike from Forlan did seem to take a "knuckle effect."
The last thing FIFA wants is for the final game to be ruined because of Adidas's Jabulani.
One last piece of important information to note; Paul has picked Spain to be the world's new champions. Paul is the "oracle octopus" from Germany that has correctly picked the winner of all of his country's games. He predicted Germany's four wins, and also predicted their losses to Serbia and Spain.
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