Sports

World Cup Final: Netherlands vs. Spain

A month of soccer has now boiled down to two teams: The Dutch will play the Spanish for the World Cup in South Africa.

The Netherlands didn't seem like a powerhouse coming into the tournament, but one of the telecasters described them during their semifinal game against Uruguay as the best team in the world to have never won a World Cup. Also interesting is that, while many teams can advance from the first round with a tie (or even a loss, rarely) under their belts, the Dutch have won every match outright. The scariest thing about this team, in fact, other than the players’ bright orange uniforms, is the fact that they seem to be peaking at exactly the right time, scoring more points and dominating more thoroughly.

The Spanish team, on the other hand, has never been to a World Cup final. (Netherlands went twice, failing to capture that prize both times.) Spain played Germany in the semifinals, a perennial power in the world of soccer. Germany has been to the semifinals every World Cup since 1954, a remarkable feat that puts American college (and pro!) records to shame. When it came time to play Spain, though, it was clear almost from the opening whistle that the Spaniards were in charge. They played with an energy that overwhelmed the Germans at most times, and sustained when it seemed likely that Germany would counterattack.

Netherlands vs. Spain, then, will produce a World Cup champion that has never before won the crown. The odds have got to favor Spain, but Netherlands arrived at this position by being the underdog, by taking down worldwide favorite Brazil and by playing like champions over Uruguay.

The last game of the World Cup season will be played on Sunday, July 11, at 12:30 p.m. local time on ABC. The match for runner-up will happen 24 hours before on Saturday, July 10.