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Sunday, July 11, 2010
What's the word on Spain and the Dutch?

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Iniesta says Spain must play better if it is to win today (Telegraph): Andres Iniesta believes Spain will have to step up a gear if it is to overcome Holland in the World Cup final. Although Spain has lived up to its pre-tournament billing as favorites by reaching tonight's final, it still has not managed to hit top form in South Africa. Spain has improved as the tournament has progressed, and dominated the majority of its semifinal against Germany. However, the match also saw Spain once again fail to convert possession into goals and the side required a Carles Puyol header 17 minutes from time to secure its place in the final. And Iniesta acknowledges Spain will have to be more clinical tonight if it is to lift the trophy. "We will play better because we will probably have to if we are going to win the World Cup," he said. "What we did in the semifinal certainly won't help us to win the final. But I have confidence in my teammates and I think this group is able to take the final step."

Del Bosque: Netherlands will attack like Spain (AP): Vicente del Bosque doesn't expect the Netherlands to shy away from its attack-minded philosophy just because it's coming up against Spain in the World Cup final. The Spain coach expects the Netherlands to stick to the script tonight and not revert to a more defensive-minded approach as Champions League winner Inter Milan did against Barcelona this season. The core of Spain's lineup plays for the Spanish league champion. "I don't think the Netherlands will change its way of playing just because it is up against Spain," Del Bosque said Saturday. "I don't believe in any way there will be a change in their script, in what they are thinking of doing. I don't think so. We both have our scripts written and we shouldn't veer from them."

Casillas says nerves have hit Spain (BBC): Spain captain Iker Casillas has admitted the team has been suffering from nerves at the World Cup. The European champions face Netherlands in tonight's final, despite not always being at their brilliant best in South Africa. "We've felt a bit anxious all the way through the tournament, even the early matches," said the Real Madrid keeper. "This is a very important match -- the most important of our careers -- and we do feel nervous."

Spain players will each pocket $750,000 per man for World Cup win (The Mirror): Spain players can earn 500,000 ($750,000) each -- almost double what each Dutch player will earn for lifting the trophy tonight. Captain Iker Casillas and vice captains Xavi and Carles Puyol met Spanish FA officials before the tournament to hammer out a bonus system for success. And although it will cost 11.5 million ($17.3 million) if Spain becomes world champions, that figure is dwarfed by the cash that will come flooding in from prestigious friendlies around the world over the course of the next four years. Spain's players earned 300,000 ($450,000) each when they became European champions in Austria two years ago.

Dutch prepare for final with a trip to the zoo (Reuters): Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk made a slight tweak to his usual pre-match preparations ahead of Sunday's World Cup final against Spain by taking his squad on an afternoon stroll around the zoo. The 58-year-old, blessed with a healthy squad for the biggest match of his life at Soccer City, said he had tried to keep preparations as normal as possible despite the magnitude of the occasion. "This is the most important match in my football life and that counts for all players as none of us ever won the World title," Van Marwijk told a news conference at Soccer City on Saturday. "Though I approach it like a normal match with the preparation we always have. We walked in the morning but this time we walked through the zoo as it was nearby. Then we rested and went training."

Netherlands adjusting to altitude again (Reuters): After starting their World Cup campaign at Soccer City on June 14 with a 2-0 win over Denmark, the Dutch are back in the same stadium at a much higher altitude than all the sea level venues they played in between. After their opener, the Dutch played twice in Durban and Cape Town while their most impressive win over Brazil in the quarterfinals was registered in Port Elizabeth. "It is good that we had some days to get used to circumstances again, it is necessary you could see that how the ball reacted today," said coach Bert Van Marwijk. Captain Giovanni van Bronckhorst, playing his final match before retirement, agreed the change in altitude takes some time to get used to. "You have to adjust again, especially with long passes through the air as the ball moves completely different, but it during the match it just will be a matter of course," the fullback said.

Robben determined to play through the pain against Spain (The Telegraph): Holland's Arjen Robben will play through the pain in the final against Spain, after revealing that the hamstring injury he sustained prior to the World Cup is still troubling him. Robben missed Holland's first two group games but was rushed back into the team after treatment. "I am not yet at my very best, but that is because I'm still getting pain from the injury," said Robben, who sat out part of Friday's training session. "I can still play; but it is not like I can play a pain-free game. You have to be fit to be at your very best, but I will try to do as much as possible." Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk conceded they had "taken a risk" with Robben's fitness.