Spain striker David Villa feels Spain must demonstrate their much fabled ability to keep possession to prevail in Sunday's FIFA World Cup final, while Netherlands captain Giovanni van Bronckhorst admits he is dreaming of following in the footsteps of some vaunted names in lifting the coveted trophy.
The maiden global finals to be held in Africa are already guaranteed to produce a first European winner outside their own continent, but such records are far from the minds of Vicente del Bosque and Bert van Marwijk, the latter of whom is calling on his team to stamp their mark on the occasion.
"It is important everyone is himself, certainly against a top side like Spain," said the Oranje coach, who welcomes back the suspended Gregory van der Wiel and Nigel de Jong. "There is no need for me to motivate the players. We are two sides who are very organised, with players in both teams who can decide it. I think the best two teams are in the final, underlining the word 'team'".
Such sentiments are echoed by Villa, top scorer in Spain's triumphant UEFA EURO 2008 campaign and once again topping the table – along with Wesley Sneijder, Diego Forlán and Thomas Müller – in the race to be this tournament's most prolific marksman. Should he find the net in the showpiece Villa would also draw level with Raúl González as Spain's all-time leading scorer with 44 goals.
"[In the semi final] Germany wanted to have the ball, but in the end they were forced to retreat because of our game," said the new FC Barcelona recruit. "The Netherlands will also want to have possession and to attack but we're hoping it will be extremely difficult for them to get the ball off us."
Van Bronckhorst will retire after the denouement in Johannesburg and has his sights set on bowing out on a high by taking his country, beaten finalists in 1974 and 1978, one step further. "In the past I saw players like Maradona, Cafu and Dunga lifting the World Cup, so it is a dream to also lift it ourselves," said the former FC Barcelona defender, whose side have followed a 100% qualifying record with six wins out of six in South Africa. "It will be fantastic for the whole of the Netherlands to win the World Cup for the first time."
Spain dazzled with their style of play in Austria and Switzerland two years ago and are looking to become just the second side in history – after West Germany in 1972 and 1974 – to lift the World Cup on the back of success in the European Championship. Del Bosque, though, is quick to dismiss the notion they are overriding favourites.
"We're playing against a rival who deserve to be here," he said. "It will be a game between two sides who have quality players and play nice football. The two teams are almost identical in terms of the style they play. I think the Netherlands have a predetermined style and they won't change when they face us."
Something, though, will have to give with one country set to become the eighth winners of the global football championship, and one forced to wait at least another four years to break their duck.
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