Netherlands vs. Spain, final
Date and location
Sunday, July 11, Soccer City Stadium, Johannesburg
Live on CBC and CBCSports.ca (12:30 p.m. ET). Consult CBC's full broadcast schedule.
What's at stake
Only the most prestigious prize in all of soccer. The victorious nation will hoist the World Cup trophy for the first time in its history, while the loser goes home empty-handed, waiting another excruciating four years for another attempt at glory.
Player to watch for Netherlands
Wesley Sneijder — Who else? The attacking midfielder has been unstoppable during this World Cup tournament, sharing the goal-scoring lead with Spain's David Villa, who also has five goals. Sneijder has an opportunity to accomplish one of the more unique sports feats. Should the Netherlands defeat Spain, Sneijder would walk away with a fourth major title in one year. He's already helped Inter Milan win a league championship, Italian Cup and Champions League crown.
Player to watch for Spain
David Villa — Simply put, this sensational striker is the reason Spanish fans didn't collective combust when the ineffective Fernando Torres was relegated to the bench during Wednesday's semifinal matchup against Germany. To say Villa has been the clutch player for Spain would be an obvious understatement. Beginning with the knockout round against Portugal, Villa has scored the winning goal in two of the last three matches, with both tallies coming in the second half.
Matchup to watch
David Villia vs. Wesley Sneijder —With the World Cup title and Golden Boot — goal-scoring champion — on the line, the fate of this final could well come down to the magical feet of these two stars. Villa, the Euro 2008 leading scorer, has notched five of Spain's seven goals in the tournament, coming through with big goal after big goal. Sneijder has been equally impressive for the Dutch side. His biggest contribution came against another nation — Brazil — that dominates time of possession. Trailing 1-0 in the quarter-final matchup, Sneijder scored twice to stun and eliminate the Samba Kings.
Both countries have question marks heading into Sunday's final.
While the Netherlands' Demy de Zeeuw didn't break his jaw as initially feared when he received a boot to the face from Uruguay's Martin Caeres in the semifinal, the midfielder's status remains in doubt.
It appears Spain Cesc Fabregas has recovered enough from his right leg injury to play against the Dutch, but he saw no action in Spain's semifinal victory over Germany.
No players will be forced to sit out because of a suspension. Holland defender Gregory van der Wiel and midfielder Nigel de Jong return after missing the semifinal matchup against Uruguay due to separate infractions.
The Dutch perspective
"We play well. Spain plays well, but they are more attractive and this is where we want to get too." — Coach Bert Van Marwijk
The Spanish perspective
"Sneijder is such a great player and he showed it this season with the treble at Inter Milan. To stop him we have to try and be one unit so that he doesn't even have a moment to think." — Midfielder Sergio Busquets
World Cup head-to-head
A World Cup title for either side won't be the only first in the year's final. Spain has never faced the Netherlands in a World Cup or European championship before.
In fact, the two countries have only met nine times — the series is tied 4-4 with one draw — in 90 years of competition.
The Dutch won the last encounter, a 1-0 victory in Rotterdam eight years ago. This will be the Netherlands' third trip to the final — it lost in 1974 and 1978 finals — while the Spaniards are making their debut.
However, the Euro 2008 champions have only lost two of their last 54 games (to USA and Switzerland).