words_Nick Engvall

This year’s World Cup, like every World Cup, has been filled with controversy and complaints. Everything from the officiating, to the ball, has been blamed for teams losing and players own shortcomings. Yet somehow, there are still a handful of players that have been able to put up impressive goal scoring numbers in their race for the Golden Boot Award, and subsequently two teams still with a shot at the title. So it seems maybe some are just better at adapting to “adversity” than others. Beating whatever adversities are thrown at you along the way can be attributed to the mental toughness. It takes mental strength to win the ultimate prize for your country. Finding the mental strength when you are playing against the world’s best is a difficult task, but it is exactly what it will take to win Sunday’s match.

Soccer City Stadium Home of the 2010 World Cup in South AfricaAs the Oranje and La Roja Furia teams prepare for the final match of this year’s World Cup at Soccer City Stadium in South Africa, they’ll use the same best practices as they always do regardless of who their opponent is. For each team their approach to the game is quite different, yet equally effective.

The Spaniards, ranked 2nd in the world, have controlled the tempo of every match. Scouring their opponent’s defense for weak points until they ultimately find the one and only striking point needed to win. The Spanish approach is intricate and precise, and with talented players like Gerard Pique, Carles Puyol, and Andres Iniesta who play for FC Barcelona together, and Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos of Real Madrid, the team is the equivalent of the USA Basketball Dream Team. Then on top of that you add the country’s best player, David Villa, who is currently the top goal scorer of the tournament, and there is no question why Spain has reached their very first World Cup Final this year. The only slip-up in what has been an otherwise perfect path to the title match was the first game of the tournament against Switzerland, where Spain lost 1-0.

adidas Jo'Bulani Official World Cup Final Match Ball - Netherlands Versus SpainFor the Oranje, the 4th ranked team in the world, their team may not be about precision and control, but they play with a passion and excitement that seems to be matched only by their fans. In fact the Dutch have not lost a match so far. The Dutch will look to capitalize with furious attacks on any and every mistake. Like Spain, the Flying Dutchmen won all of their qualifiers. However unlike the Spaniards, Netherlands has not lost a match in the tournament, despite being down 1-0 against the world’s top ranked team, Brazil. The Dutch came back to win 2-1 thanks to two goals from their top goal scorer Wesley Sneijder, who combined with Arjen Robben, makeup one of the best attacking offenses in the tournament. A completely different approach than their next opponents, but proven to be effective in getting Netherlands to the final match.

No matter who wins, it will be the country’s first World Cup title, and one of the most important matches in their country’s history. Nothing will be withheld, and everything will be on the table. For Spain, patience is not only the key to victory but their greatest asset. For Netherlands, pushing that patient offense of the Spaniards into a mistake will be the key to victory. If there is any slight mental advantage for either team, Netherlands knows that Spain can be beaten, the Swiss did it. Will that be enough of a mental edge to overcome patience and precision of Spain?

As great as both these teams are, it is truly too close to call. We will have to watch Sunday at 2:30 PM EST on ABC to find out.

images via yahoo