Some of the biggest names in world football will grace today’s World Cup final, but will Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie turn on the style or be shackled by a safety-first desire to bring the title home for the first time?
The same could be said to some extent for Spain. The
Here’s a look at both teams, and the tactics they may adopt today at Soccer City:
In front of him, John Heitinga and Joris Mathijsen are expected to play in the center on Sunday. Heitinga’s pace and tackling complement the strength and aerial prowess of Mathijsen. Captain Giovanni van Bronckhorst will be at left back and 22-year-old Gregory van der Wiel on the right. Both know how to make probing runs on the wings.
Considered the biggest liability coming into the World Cup, the backline has proven to be a sound foundation, if not impregnable.
Van Marwijk, however, counts on everyone to contribute. Even the forwards.
‘You have to work together when the opponent has the ball and then you can go a long way,’ Van Marwijk said.
Van Marwijk will field defensive midfielders Mark van Bommel and Nigel de Jong to reinforce the defense.
Van Bommel has had a sterling season with Bayern Munich and has used the same mix of grit and intimidation to lead the
Their work gives both Robben and Dirk Kuyt freedom on the flanks. Kuyt’s work rate stands out and contrasts with Robben’s flashes of brilliance as he cuts inside from the right, passes defenders and shoots from long range.
Robben was the star of Bayern Munich’s run to the Champions League final and missed the two opening games because of a hamstring strain that still continues to bother him during play.
Van Persie recovered from an ankle injury that had blighted his club season just in time to lead the
Barcelona center back Carles Puyol is a rugged fighter, but also a threat at set-pieces. It was his powerful header from a corner that put Spain into the final, and he marshals a backline of goalkeeper Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Barcelona teammate Gerard Pique and Joan Capdevilla. The defense soaked up Germany’s attacks and rarely looked threatened and gives the
Iniesta and Xavi have what seems to be a telepathic understanding and can wear teams down with their intricate passing patterns. When on form, frustrated opponents are forced to chase the game and often struggle to get hold of the ball. They can suddenly switch gear and probe opposition defenses in the safe knowledge that midfielder Xabi Alonso is behind them, breaking up opposition attacks and launching Spanish moves from deep. If Spain coach Vicente del Bosque needs a Plan B, he has Cesc Fabregas to call on from the bench.
David Villa is joint top scorer with Sneijder with five goals. The Barcelona-bound