There are many reasons the Dutch team is in this World Cup final after decades of failing to live up to the lofty expectations that saddle the elite soccer nation.
They have a great coach, Bert van Marwijk, who has managed to keep the top-notch players on the Oranje from squabbling as they have in World Cups past.
"I think the spirit in the camp has been extremely important," said team captain Giovanni van Bronckhorst, whose solid leadership is another reason the Netherlands has done well. "We have seen in this World Cup that when teams have problems off the pitch, somehow it causes problems on the pitch. We have made sure we have created a positive atmosphere that allows us to perform and we hope we will be rewarded for that [in the championship match]."
They also have an excellent playmaker and goal scorer in Arjen Robben; a lethal striker in Robin van Persie; a midfield destroyer in Mark van Bommel, who promises to “break” Spain’s Tiki-Taka passing machine; and a tireless midfield distributor in Dirk Kuyt.
But most of all, they have Wesley Sneijder.
The 5 ft. 7 in. midfielder is their leading scorer and top playmaker. He wears the coveted No. 10 jersey for a reason. In American football parlance, he’s their quarterback. He’s got the competitive fire of Brett Favre, the poise of Tom Brady, and the athleticism of Michael Vick.
And he’s a leading contender to be the most valuable player in this World Cup.
If the Netherlands wins today, it’s hard to imagine the Golden Ball (MVP) trophy going to anyone else.
Sure, Bastian Schweinsteiger had a strong tournament as the engine of Germany’s impressive team. Spain wouldn’t be in the final with the Netherlands if it weren’t for the goal scoring of shark-like striker David Villa. And where would Uruguay be without the jaw-dropping, highlight-worthy goals of striker Diego Forlan?
But Sneijder ran his team from the midfield arguably as well or better than Schweinsteiger while scoring as many goals going into today’s match as Villa and Forlan.
Speaking of Sneijder’s goals, if he scores today, he could also win the Golden Boot. That’s FIFA’s award for the player who scores the most goals.
But who says the Dutchman can’t have it all?
I don’t see any good reasons why not. Perhaps Spain’s David Villa does, though. If he scores during a Spanish victory, he’d take home all the golden hardware.
We shall soon see.