Vicente Del Bosque heads into tomorrow's
World Cup final with the sort of selection dilemma Fabio Capello can only dream
of: Torres? Fabregas? Neither?
The morning papers are rife with
speculation, and feature heartfelt, earnest appeals from both of Spain's most
lauded Premier League stars splashed across their back-pages, in appeals which
would make a pair of X-Factor finalists seem embarrassingly histrionic.
'Let me play!' screams Torres from the back
of the Daily Mail and Star, while the Daily Express has the Liverpool striker
calling it his 'dream' to play in the World Cup final.
The Mirror goes a step further, running
with the (rather wordy) headline 'Torres begs Del Bosque: Let me start in
greatest match on earth: The World Kop'.
The red-top has a 'Spanish source' on hand
to reveal that 'Fernando went to see Del Bosque because he fears he will be
left out. Fernando told him he is desperate to play and that he won't let him
After five lacklustre, goalless displays
for La Furia Roja, Del Bosque finally culled the underperforming Torres from
the Spanish starting XI ahead of the semi-final clash with Germany.
With Cesc Fabregas roundly expected to
replace the striker, Barcelona's latest prodigy Pedro Rodriguez was, instead,
called up to replace Torres, forcing Fabregas to make his own earnest appeal for
inclusion in Del Bosque's final squad.
The only tabloid to send a Torres-free back
page to print, The Sun instead screams 'Cesc: Please let me play.'
'I am desperate to play at least some part
in tomorrow's game,' Fabregas says in his column for the paper. 'It's
everything we dream of from the moment we start kicking a ball to the moment we
learn all about the world's greatest football tournament.'
However, The Times is on hand to douse the prospects
of both hopefuls, and suggests that Del Bosque will consign both Torres and
Fabregas to the bench, giving Pedro another chance to impress from the start.
Regardless of who starts for the Spanish,
they're still the papers' favourite to lift the trophy, and The Mirror and
Independent both roll out a gaggle of pundits to emphasise the point.
The Sun suggests otherwise, however, with
Terry Venables declaring that '(Carles) Puyol is the weakest link' in either
Venables accuses Puyol, along with centre-back
partner Gerard Pique, of 'playing more football than they should' and taking 'a
touch or two more than is necessary to put themselves at risk.'
It's not all Spain this morning, however,
with plenty of praised reserved for Golden Ball contender Wesley Sneijder.
The Star says that the Inter Milan
midfielder 'simply has the world at his feet' and 'he EXPECTS (sic) to land the
Holy Grail, the trophy that matters most and would catapult him and his team
mates to a legendary status that they can't begin to imagine.'
Meanwhile, the Independent suggests that
the Dutch 'self-belief', and the attacking trident of Sneijder, Robin van
Persie, and Arjen Robben is 'strong enough to deny the artists' of Spain.
The Mirror and Express acknowledge the
attacking talents on display in the Dutch squad, but turn their attentions to
the 'hatchet man' in the middle of the pitch: Mark van Bommel.
The former Barcelona 'clogger' tells the
Mirror 'I don't care how we take the title, as long as we do', and Graham
Taylor says in the Express that 'If Holland are to win the World Cup... Van
Bommel will have to be the linchpin'.
The independent goes a step further,
running with the headline 'Van Bommel sharpens his studs to greet former
(Barcelona) team-mates', and features Lee Dixon challenging Van Bommel to 'disrupt
Spain's pass-and-move football'.
Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf also picks Van
Bommel as the Dutch , depicting 'the engine of the team' Mark van Bommel as a
matador, and also heralds Maarten Stekelenburg as the goalkeeper of the
Spain's Marca has spoken to full-back
Sergio Ramos, who says 'we will play in the final for 46 million people. It is a great joy that the team helps people to forget their
Once again, Paul the psychic octopus gets a
worthy mention in newspapers around the world, with Marca declaring 'The
infallible octopus is clear: Spain to Win!'
- Vicente Del Bosque
- Cesc Fabregas