A closer look at the key battles on the pitch in the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ Final to be held later today.
The great underachievers of world football meet at Johannesburg’s Soccer City stadium on Sunday, both bidding for their first tournament success at the World Cup.
We preview the key battles around the pitch.
WESLEY SNEIJDER vs XAVI
Sneijder has been the hit of the tournament and promises to be the main midfield threat to Spain’s dream of lifting the World Cup. The Inter Milan ace has bagged five goals so far and is bidding to land the tournament’s Golden Boot. The passing ability of the Barcelona’s Xavi is unsurpassed in the tournament and he was the main architect of all their best moves against Germany in the semi-final. If the Dutch are to nullify his threat, they will have to be on top of their game.
Verdict: Xavi to triumph.
MAARTEN STEKELENBURG vs IKER CASILLAS
Both goalkeepers will have to be at their very best throughout 90 minutes, but the possibility of extra-time and a penalty shoot-out will heap more pressure on the pair. When it comes to penalties, Real Madrid’s Casillas, 29, has the upper hand. He made two saves against Italy in Euro 2008. Stekelenburg has no penalty shoot-out experience but has, so far, enjoyed a fine tournament although he was partly at fault for Diego Forlan’s long-range goal for Uruguay in the semi-final.
Verdict: Experienced Casillas to rule.
ARJEN ROBBEN vs JOAN CAPDEVILA
Former Chelsea winger Arjen Robben has been absolutely outstanding in a World Cup when so many of the game’s biggest stars have failed to shine. Robben, 26, came into the tournament on the back of an exceptional season with Bayern Munich and his form has simply got even better. The man to stop the Dutch destroyer is likely to be 32-year-old left-back Capdevila, especially as Robben likes to cut in from the right wing. The Villarreal defender may not be the quickest but has more than enough experience to cope with the threat of Robben.
Verdict: Capdevila to neutralise Robben.