Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Dutch will prove powerless to stop Spanish surge




Dutch will prove powerless to stop Spanish surge

Dutch will prove powerless to stop Spanish surge


Spain’s David Villa (above) and the Netherlands’ Wesley Sneijder are both in line to challenge for the coveted Golden Boot award. AFP

Come Monday morning a new name will join the list of winners of the World Cup. Either Spain or the Netherlands will become the eighth member of world sport’s most exclusive club, leaving the other consigned to the ranks of football’s nearly men.

In winning Euro 2008, Spain notched up their first major senior title since 1964. Now they are in danger of becoming serial winners, and in the process becoming only the third team, after West Germany and France, to be reigning champions of both Europe and the World.

From crashing out 3-1 to France in the last-16 round of the 2006 World Cup, Spain’s progress has been momentous.

Whereas the Dutch have jettisoned their brand of “total football” to reach this year’s final, the Spanish have created a brand all of their own. Dubbed “ticky tacky” due to its reliance upon short, swift passing, Spain’s approach is to starve opponents of the ball.

In the second semifinal, the Germans sat too deep, relying upon the speed of their counterattack to penetrate the Spanish back line. This allowed Spain to dictate the pace of the game. It was only when they went a goal behind that the Germans started to take the game to their opponents and looked like scoring. But the Spanish always seemed more likely to add a second.

Ironically, the style of Spain’s winner against Germany could not have been in starker contrast with their overall play. A long corner into the German box, met by a bullet header from Carles Puyol, left Manuel Neuer helpless in the German goal.

What are the Netherlands’ chances of accomplishing what Germany could not?

The signs are not good. Deprived of the ball for long periods in the first half of their quarterfinal with Brazil, the Dutch looked ordinary. It took a freakish equaliser to stir them into action, by which time the tie would have been all but over if the Brazilians had been more clinical with their finishing. And the Spanish keep the ball better than the Brazilians.

I doubt that Mark van Bommel and Nigel de Jong will win their midfield battle with Sergio Busquets, Xabier Alonso and Xavi. With Wesley Sneijder, Dirk Kuyt and Arjen Robben forced deeper and deeper, Robin van Persie will be left isolated up front.

Just like the Germans, the Dutch might be forced to rely on the pace of their counter-attack. In Robben they have a winger with sufficient speed and skill to worry either Spanish full-back, as well as the seemingly unstoppable Sneijder. Whether van Persie will make the Spanish pay for defensive lapses is open to debate.

Before the start of the tournament, I predicted that Spain would win, albeit beating Brazil in the final, and that David Villa would carry off the Golden Boot as the tournament’s top scorer. I see no reason to change these predictions now, though I doubt it will need a Puyol header for Spain to become the eighth country etched their name on the World Cup.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hungarian exposes 90 to Covid in Siem Reap

    The Ministry of Health has discovered 90 people who have been exposed directly or indirectly to a Hungarian man infected with Covid-19. They all are required to quarantine at home and the hospital. The ministry is searching for other affected people. Among the 90, one is the

  • PM warns of ‘new Cold War’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said the possibility of a so-called new Cold War has become a significant concern and that all countries have to reject outright, any attempt to allow history to tragically repeat itself. He made the remarks in a speech during 75th Session

  • PM: West unfair to Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen released a message celebrating the International Day of Peace on Monday, saying that some major powers and western countries had been systemically cooperating to put political pressure on Cambodia as they did in the 1970s and 1980s. Hun Sen said pressuring

  • ‘Bad news is an investor’s best friend’ – unlocking investment potential in Cambodia

    It is time to shop. Economic woes provide good pickings for investors if they know where to look The poem If, written by English Nobel laureate poet and novelist Rudyard Kipling for his son circa 1895, is widely perceived as fatherly advice for John who would

  • PM requests Russia’s Covid vaccine

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that Russia provide Cambodia with its Covid-19 vaccine after the former announced it planned on mass vaccinating its population next month. The request came on Thursday through the prime minister’s Facebook page as he met with Anatoly Borovik,

  • First ‘mobile kitchen’ in Cambodia enters service

    A catering company recently rolled out Cambodia’s first “mobile kitchen” – a $50,000 container capable of serving up to 200 people at a time. The kitchen is the brainchild of Seng Hok Heng Catering Services. At 4.4m-high, 6.8m-long and 2.4m-wide (expandable to 6.8m), the kitchen is equipped