By Ryan Berenz
The World Cup is down to its final match, and I am a little sad to see the tournament coming to an end. This is the most fun I’ve ever had watching soccer (which doesn’t say much, because I almost never watch it otherwise), and I want to especially thank Univision for streaming all the games for free (without the pesky ESPN3.com requirements). The Univision announcers have an infectious enthusiasm for the game, and even though I only understand about every fifth word they say, “Gooooooolaaaaaaaaaasssssooooooo!” needs no translation.
ABC will air the final match between the Netherlands and Spain on Sunday, July 11, beginning at 1:30pm ET (match starts at 2:30pm ET). Before the tournament started, I picked Netherlands over Portugal in the final match. Since Portugal is essentially Spain, I’m saying I was correct in picking the finals.
You can see ESPN analysts’ predictions for the final match after the jump.
ESPN Analyst Predictions for the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final
ESPN’s 2010 FIFA World Cup analysts – many of whom are former national team players who have competed in the World Cup themselves – offer their predictions for Sunday’s Netherlands vs. Spain final match:
ESPN match analysts:
Efan Ekoku (Nigeria 1994 National Team player)
Spain 2–1. “The more adventurous style of the Spaniards and their greater belief in themselves, having won the European Championship in 2008, is likely to overcome the Dutch cautiousness in the final.” (On the eve of the tournament, Ekoku predicted Spain would beat Netherlands in the Final.)
John Harkes (USA 1990, 94)
Spain 2-1. “Spain will win because of the quality of the individual players and the way they come together as a team. They have gone from strength to strength and overall, player for player, Spain has too much quality for the Netherlands to cope with.”
Spain 3-1. “Spain always had the best squad, quality and experience with the most entertaining style of play. When Fabregas can’t get in the starting lineup you know this team is special.”
Spain 2-1. “We haven’t seen the best of Spain yet. Spain needs their strikers to start scoring but if they continue to miss opportunities like they have in previous games, I can see this going as far as penalty kicks.”
ESPN studio analysts:
Shaun Bartlett (South Africa 1998)
Spain 2-1. “Spain are peaking at the right time. Holland, in my opinion, have already played to their full potential. Spain will have more quality players to draw on to come out on top.”
Ruud Gullit (Netherlands 1990)
Netherlands 1-1. “I think the Dutch will win in overtime.”
Alexi Lalas (USA 1994, 98)
Netherlands 3-2. “The Netherlands finds a way to capitalize on the weaknesses out wide and whether it’s Dirk Kuyt or higher up, finding ways to go by Capdevilla or Sergio Ramos, then putting balls in the box that they capitalize on.” (On the eve of the tournament Lalas predicted The Netherlands would beat Spain.)
Spain 3-1. “Both teams are trying to play the same way but Spain are better at what they are trying to do and they are more mature”
Steve McManaman (England 1998)
Spain 3-0. “They were my favourites coming into the tournament, they are the bookmakers’ favourites and they’re playing the best football.”
Photo: Credit: Edwin Van Zandvoort/Pics United/Icon SMI/Newscom