- Associated Press - Saturday, July 10, 2010

Capsule for Sunday’s championship match at the World Cup (FIFA rankings in parentheses):


Netherlands (4) vs. Spain (2), 2:30 p.m.


The Netherlands has scored 12 goals, second only to Germany, and got three against Uruguay in the semifinals, a 3-2 victory. The Uruguayans had allowed only two in the entire tournament. Spain, after an opening loss to Switzerland, has won every match, beating the Germans in the semifinals 1-0, but dominating possession.

Netherlands: The Dutch are on a 25-game unbeaten streak and have won 10 in a row, including all six games here, the only nation with an unblemished record in South Africa. Midfielder Wesley Sneijder has been playmaker and scorer, tied for the World Cup lead with five goals. Arjen Robben, recovered from a hamstring injury, has been dynamic up front, and the previously suspect defense has been steady enough.

Spain: The European champion has gotten steadily better, particularly when it gets the ball on the feet of striker David Villa, who also has five goals. Midfielders Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Xabi Alonso have controlled the ball with precise passes and solid positioning. The defense has been strong and also has contributed to the offense, with Carles Puyol’s header off Xavi’s corner kick the only score against Germany.

Notable Fact: Neither team has won the World Cup and Spain never has been in the final. The Netherlands lost to host West Germany in 1974’s title match, and then to host Argentina in the 1978 final.

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