Spain seeks answer for Sneijder
After neutralizing Germany's attack, Spain is now focusing on stopping the Netherlands dangerous offence in the World Cup final and is narrowing in on key playmaker Wesley Sneijder.
That job will likely fall to midfielder Sergio Busquets on Sunday at Soccer City (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 12:30 p.m. ET).
"Sneijder is such a great player and he showed it this season with the treble at Inter Milan," Busquets said on Friday. "To stop him we have to try and be one unit so that he doesn't even have a moment to think. We've already been able to do that with [Germany playmaker Mesut] Ozil and other good players."
Spain's defence hasn't conceded a goal in the three knockout round games in South Africa and made a rampant Germany attack look dormant in a dominating 1-0 semifinal victory.
But Busquets doesn't expect the Netherlands to sit back and defend against the European champion.
"Holland is going to play its football," Busquets said. "That's important, that everyone plays their own game and shows their cards."
Though Paul the Octopus having picked Spain to beat the Dutch in its first final appearance, Spain's players sounded like they didn't need the extra boost.
"The team has reached a good level, we've played a very serious tournament," Busquets said. "The other day we played our best game but I hope the best game is to come. We shouldn't worry about Holland, but let's also hope we get all the luck of the world and things work out."
Coach Vicente del Bosque is not expected to make many changes to his starting lineup after seven players came from Spanish champion Barcelona.
"It's a guarantee since Barcelona is the best team in the world," defender Carlos Marchena said Friday. "They know each other to perfection and it's a pleasure to be at their side."
Marchena, who holds a record 55 international appearance streak without being on the losing side, believed Spain's unity was one of its strongest points as it looks to join France and Germany as the other nations to hold both the European Championship and World Cup trophy at the same time.
"There have been great national teams before but this team is the one that has been able to be the best 'team,' and that's how it has managed to get where it is," Marchena said. "We've already had great disappointments without merit and in this moment we're making up for all those bitter moments we've suffered."
Busquets is one of the Barcelona players making an impact in the team, as the 21-year-old has showed fine form since taking over for Marcos Senna in midfield.
But Busquets sounded like the World Cup butterflies were still circling around his stomach.
"I'm young and every day I feel much better, like I'm learning more from sharing these experiences with such great players," Busquets said. "I'm very happy with my play at this World Cup, but without the help of the team I wouldn't have been able to reach this level. Let's hope we can as strong as Holland and emerge with the win."