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Why are Spain the favourites for the World Cup final?

Holland played 8 matches in their group section for World Cup qualification. They won all 8 matches. At the 2010 World Cup proper Holland have played 6 matches so far and have won them all. 14 matches 14 victories and yet Spain, not Holland, will begin the final as favourites. Many will be wondering why. The two best players in the 2009/2010 Champions League season were Dutch and both featured in the final. Arjen Robben, perhaps the most explosive competitor on the way to the Champions League final with Bayern Munich, has been scoring stupendously good goals all season. Wesley Sneijder, the on field architect of Internazionale Milan’s treble winning season, has been scoring vital goals and making crucial assists all the way through the campaign.

Still, Spain will begin the final as favourites. Many have considered Holland’s run to the final as fortunate. The argument is that Slovakia were out of their depth, Brazil were surprisingly tepid and Uruguay were exhausted. All of this is in some sense true although perhaps a little exaggerated for convenience. Nevertheless this Holland side has pedigree, fortune and a winning habit. The reason Spain are the favourites is that they have all of this and more. Spain have been fortunate in moments against Portugal and Paraguay. Spain have a winning habit developed not only over the course of the 2010 World Cup and its qualifying campaign but including the European Championships of 2008 that preceded it. Spain have not won every game but they have been consistently winning, convincingly too, for around 3 years.

Spain have pedigree evidence by their 2008 triumph and the collective medal haul of their players. Every single player in the Spain line up has either featured in a Champions League final or the EURO 2008 final. In fact most have featured in a handful of finals. Plenty of Dutch players, like Robin van Persie, Nigel de Jong, Gregory van der Weil, Marten Stekelenburg, Rafael van der Vart, Khalid Bhoularouz and John Heitenga have never featured in a final of this magnitude. Holland struggled to dominate possession against Uruguay and the assumption is that it will be Spain who dominate the ball in the final. The concomitant assumption is that Holland are not strong enough defensively to keep Spain out for long. Everything appears entirely logical. Holland will be entering this final in great shape, with good form and genuine confidence only Spain will have all of that and more. Spain are the favourites, justifiably so.

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