Today is the big day. A quick recap of the medal round to date:
Uruguay 2-3 Netherlands: A five-goal thriller; who knew there would be another? The Dutch class shone through, along with the absences of Lodeiro, Lugano, and Suarez. Another all-European final, despite the South American quarterfinal quartet. Wonderful for tiny Uruguay (3.5 million people) to return to its place in world football.
Germany 0-1 Spain: Another dominating performance by La Furia Roja, despite only 51% possession. More credit is due to Paraguay and Switzerland based on the Spaniards' other performances. Germany never got going and had but one good chance in this match, the tame volley by Toni Kroos saved by Casillas.
Uruguay 2-3 Germany: Another third-place finish for Die Mannschaft. Can you comprehend their disappointment? Just wait for the evolution of this team in Brazil 2014. Unbelievable that Uruguay scored 4 goals in the medal round and finished 4th. Forlan hitting the bar was a tough end to a great tournament for the celeste.
Villarreal watch: Diego Godin played all 90 minutes in both of Uruguay's 3-2 defeats. He was at fault for a goal or two, not surprisingly based on his form. Joan Capdevila played all 90 minutes in Spain's semifinal victory and should start in La Gran Final. First time that a Villarreal player has been on the biggest stage in world sport. Buena suerte, Joan.
A positional breakdown of Netherlands - Spain:
Goalkeeper: Edge, Spain. Saint Iker is an experienced keeper and seems back on form per his performance against Paraguay. Stekelenburg is solid but lacks big-match experience, along with exhibiting a little uncertainty against Forlan due to the Jabulani.
Defense: Slight edge, Netherlands. I still have questions about the Spanish central defense pairing. Familiarity is nice, but they are short and give up a lot of corners. The Dutch are a solid unit, but the edge is minimal. And Capdevila is the man.
Midfield: Slight edge, Netherlands. Incredibly, the Dutch have more depth and quality at this position. Xavi and Iniesta are countered by Sneijder and Van der Vaart, while Van Bommel is a better hard man than Busquets and Robben out wide is unmatched. Fabregas on the bench is nice, but del Bosque wishes that he had Cazorla.
Strikers: Edge, Spain. As a nominal Liverpool supporter, I have a lot of admiration for Dirk Kuijt. Not so much for Robin van Persie, but they are adequate. Problem is that David Villa and a half-strength Fernando Torres are much better. El Guaje is on a roll, and I am convinced that he will score. And Llorente is a nice option to milk the clock.
Prediction: 2-1 to Spain. Either way, one side wins its first World Cup. Enjoy the match!