Hold on tight to your seats, folks, we're
about to witness the birth of a new dynasty.
The Sunday Express screams 'Spain to
reign', and has midfield-maestro Xavi announcing that, not only are Spain going
to beat the Netherlands this evening to win the World Cup, but that there will
be a seismic 'change in the world order'.
Barcelona's celebrated playmaker believes
that Spain 'can take over Brazil as the greatest football nation', and the News
of the World agrees, proclaiming 'Spain... ready to rule the world.'
The Spanish XI to start against the Dutch
is still a mystery, but the red-tops are unanimous in predicting that Fernando Torres
will, once again, be dropped to the bench, with Barcelona winger Pedro set to
retain his place after the semi-final defeat of Germany.
The Sunday Express is alone in extolling
the virtues of affording Torres a starting berth, with former Spanish
international Gaizka Mendieta describing
the Liverpool striker as simultaneously 'warmed up' and ready to 'awake from his
slumber and rewrite history.'
However, Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque looks
set to dash Torres's (and, apparently, Mendieta's) hopes, in the wake of
Pedro's valuable contribution in the semi-final against Germany: 'I don't
believe we'll deviate too much [from that match]... Picking Pedro was not a
decision I took lightly but he played very well.'
With the Spanish widely revered in the
morning papers, the reception for the Dutch is less than compelling.
The Mail runs with Robin van Persie on the
back page, the Arsenal striker vowing 'to end years of hurt' for the Dutch,
before a panel of experts unanimously predict a Spanish win.
'Total commitment' and 'absolute perspiration'
are the new 'Total football' according to the Express, but the Mirror suggests that
a host of Dutch legends are less than enthused about the new generation.
According to the red-top; Marco van Basten,
Frank Rijkaard, Dick Advocaat, and Guus Hiddink have all turned down VIP invitations
from the Dutch FA for the World Cup final, with Hiddink in particularly
scathing mood: 'Holland is not a team of high scores like the '74 Total football
side... I've found the level of football in this World Cup anything but
The Express furthers the divide between the
Dutch legends and Holland's contemporary stars, suggesting that Johan Cruyff is
backing the Spanish: "Spain have worked very well in the last few years,"
Cruyff is reported to have said. "If they find their rhythm they should
Michael Calvin takes particular exception
to Dutch 'hatchet man' Mark van Bommel in the Times, calling him the 'most
repugnant player on the planet.' Clearly in the mood for histrionics, Calvin
continued: 'he's a cruel, cold, conman for whom bile is as nourishing as breast
milk'. Don't hold back, Michael...
It's not all bad for the Dutch, though,
with Wesley Sneijder predictably receiving a fresh batch of plaudits on the
most significant day of his career. Team-mate Arjen Robben is featured in The
Star calling Sneijder 'better than (Lionel) Messi' and 'the best player in the
world', and the same paper presents defender John Heitinga calling the Dutch
attack 'the most fearsome attacking unit in the world.'
The Dutch press are quietly confident of
success in tonight's showcase final, with the Telegraaf (rather conservatively)
claiming 'this [Dutch] eleven should do it.'
However, when it
comes to flagrant, patriotic optimism, the Spanish media has few rivals.
Marca brazenly declares 'today, we put the STAR on our shirt', and AS quotes Del Bosque: "Neither
the team nor the country are satisfied with reaching the final. We want to win
- Fernando Torres