Here's the headline we'll see Monday morning all across America describing the World Cup final:
"Spain reigns as the Dutch chase in vain."
First of all, it's more than a little difficult to believe that neither of these countries, with their rich football histories and strong domestic leagues, has ever won the championship. Uruguay has won twice, for heavens sakes.
I have a soft spot in my heart for the Netherlands team. Their fans parade around in outlandish orange outfits (my Alma mater is Syracuse University) and their players confidently race downfield, expecting to score on every possession.
As an English Premier League fan, I enjoy watching the exploits of Hollanders Dirk Kuyt (Liverpool) and Robin Van Persie (Arsenal) -- though I always wonder why the back of his jersey merely reads, "V. Persie." Wasn't there room for the "a" and the "n.?"
I actually saw Arjen Robben play in person for Real Madrid at Bernabeu stadium, one of Robben's stops on his tour of the major clubs of Europe (Chelsea and currently Bayern Munich).
And Wesley Sneijder, who led Inter Milan to the Champions League crown, is now the subject of a crosstown bidding war between Manchester United and Man City (I'm betting Sir Alex gets his man).
The Netherlands side has great energy and great talent. But they don't have a chance against Spain.
The Spaniards dominated Germany in their 1-0 semifinal victory. The Germans were criticized for not being more aggressive in disrupting long continuous spells of Spanish possession, for not attacking more. If Germany had sent more men forward, the final tally would have been much more lopsided. This will happen on Sunday.
The Dutch are playing at warp speed these days. They want the ball, they want it now and they want to rush a bunch of people forward. This makes for highly entertaining viewing but is not the soundest strategy at this level. Obviously, their tactics have worked well enough to get them to the championship game, but they were very fortunate not to get blown out early by Brazil (only a sensational save by Marten Stekelenburg on Kaka's rocket prevented a fatal 2-0 deficit) and they conceded twice against Uruguay, which didn't even score against dysfunctional France.
Spain, with all of its talent, has huffed and puffed to get here, losing in an opening match to Switzerland and surviving a 2-1 battle with Chile to advance from group play before tossing three consecutive 1-0 shutouts against Portugal, Paraguay and Germany in the knockout rounds.
This will be Spain's coming out party. Their unparalleled passing game will dominate possession on Sunday, the Dutch will become impatient and the Spaniards will have a feast.
David Villa, who has already scored five goals could ring up multiple tallies, aided by his all-star colleagues Ramos, Iniesta, X-squared (Xabi and Xavi), Puyol and Navas. I would also enjoy seeing contributions from EPL stars Fabregas and Torres who have clearly not played up to their standards as they recover from injury.
Here's the headline they'll see in Madrid and Barcelona on Monday:
"La Roja! Reyes del Mundo!"
Prediction: Spain 4, Netherlands 1.
Before arriving in Wisconsin, Mark was a TV sports director at stations in Greensboro, the Quad Cities and Fort Smith, Arkansas. He got his first job at the ABC affiliate in Syracuse during his junior year at Syracuse University where he majored in TV and Radio at the Newhouse School.
Mark is an avid fan of all sports. He covered the Packers at Super Bowl XXXI in New Orleans and has also reported on the Final Four, the Daytona 500, the Rose Bowl, the NLCS and the PGA and U.S. Open golf championships. He covered the GMO for 20 years. Mark played soccer in high school and is a passionate supporter of "The Beautiful Game." One of his greatest experiences was attending a UEFA Champions League game hosted by Real Madrid at Bernabeu Stadium.
Mark was born in Philadelphia but has happily made the transition from cheese steaks to cheese heads and is thrilled to now call Wisconsin home. He is currently president of Concannon Communications LLC and working on projects involving, writing, producing, voice-overs and public relations.