- Associated Press - Sunday, July 11, 2010

THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS (AP) - In Rev. Paul Vlaar’s rural church, the candles, the piano, even the pastor’s robes are orange for a day.

Vlaar started his sermon to about 300 orange-clad worshippers by praying for a Dutch victory in the World Cup final against Spain in Johannesburg. During the service, Vlaar kicked a soccer ball down the aisle and “You’ll Never Walk Alone” was played on the orange piano.

Vlaar’s orange-colored corner of the Netherlands was one small snapshot from a nation gripped by a soccer frenzy triggered by the country’s first title game since losing finals in 1974 and ‘78.

The fervor was just as strong in Spain, where newspaper ABC featured the country’s flag and just one word on its front page: “Spain!”

By noon Madrid was beginning to fill with people wearing the Spanish team’s colors and jerseys. Sightseers were milling around the area where a large screen had been erected to watch the match live.

Eugenia Ribera, 16, who was sporting a Fernando Torres jersey said she felt proud and anxious.

“This is a day to remember, our team has made us so very proud. The whole country has woken up full of expectation,” she said.

“Holland frightens me, but I was even more frightened of Germany and look what happened,” said Jose Herrero, 18, who was riding a bicycle while wearing a red and yellow Spain jersey. “We are going to win the World Cup, how amazing; it’s the greatest thing that has happened in my lifetime.”

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