Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk admits Spain play a more attractive brand of football than his team - but he insists the Dutch do not fear them. The two European countries will both be bidding for their first FIFA World Cup™ success when they meet in the final on Sunday.
Vicente del Bosque's side are European champions and have been the most impressive international outfit for the past two years. They had struggled to hit top form in South Africa, though, losing their opening game to Switzerland before battling their way through to the semi-final, where their impeccable passing game returned in a 1-0 win over Germany.
"At this moment I think Spain play a little more attractively than we do," said Van Marwijk. "Although we would like to do the same, they have a few more advantages right now. They are playing very well with the ball and without the ball when they are reacting very quickly so it could be a very interesting game between two teams who want to play football."
We respect Spain but we are not afraid.
Whatever happens at Soccer City, one of the two countries, widely seen as the biggest underachievers in international football, will end their wait for a world title. The Netherlands have lost in the final before, while Spain had never previously made it into the last four, but Van Marwijk insisted he was not interested in the past. He added: "I don't think in that way. I only think of that game we play in the final. Whatever happened in the past is not important and we have to prepare. There are no secrets for us with Spain. We are not afraid."
Van Marwijk did not elaborate on how he planned to combat Spain's famed ability to keep possession. "I will tell the players but I will not explain it here," he said. The Dutch boss also claimed it did not concern him if the Netherlands were viewed as underdogs. "It doesn't interest me even if the whole world says they are favourites," he said. "It's a game of two countries against each other and both want to win and can win, and we have confidence in ourselves. We respect Spain but we are not afraid. It's a big challenge to play against Spain and to beat them."