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HOLLAND D v SPAIN.

Byline: Steve Bates

Soccer City, Jo'burg, KO 7.30. TV: BBC, ITV

Maarten Stekelenburg

FOLLOWING Edwin van der Sar was never going to be an easy job, but the Ajax No.1 is having a go. A clean sheet on the way to lifting the World Cup would eclipse anything the Manchester United stopper ever did for the Orange nation. Blundered for Diego Forlan's long-ranger in the high-pressure Cape Town semi-final against Uruguay and will need to stay cool and calm with the stakes even higher here. 7/10

Johnny Heitinga

THE versatile Everton star will need all the experience of his first season in the Premier league to cope with Spain's attacking threat. Strong and full of energy, Heitinga has been a reliable fixture for Holland but will have to time his crunching tackles to perfection against the fleet-footed Spaniards. 7/10

Giovanni van Bronckhorst

THE 35-year-old Feyenoord veteran wants to go out on a high as a World Cup winning captain in his last game for Holland. All the former Arsenal and Barcelona star's vast experience will be needed but he has a spectacular goal in his locker as Uruguay discovered. 8/10

Gregory van der Wiel

JUST 22 but already a first team fixture at Ajax. Has been impressively solid during the run to the final but will be asked to step up to a new level to contain the threat of David Villa and Pedro down the Spain left. May be targeted by Spain tactically but coach Bert van Marwijk is a fan. 7/10

Joris Mathijsen

THE 30-year-old Hamburg defender has been Holland's Mr Dependable in recent times and no one played more minutes in the qualifiers than the experienced star. Will need all his influence to marshall the Dutch defence and try to keep Holland inthe game as long as possible. 7/10

Mark van Bommel

THE Bayern Munich star has proved himself a tackling machine in South Africa - but not often fairly. Branded a dirty destroyer who won't hesitate to foul, the 33-year-old son-in-law of coach Bert van Marwijk will need all his ball-winning prowess to disrupt that famous Spanish midfield. 7/10

Nigel de Jong

ANOTHER ruthless enforcer who will get stuck into Xavi and Iniesta and try to smash their rhythm. Brought up on touch street soccer in Amsterdam, the Manchester City star is fit, fast and combative. He takes no prisoners and will be charged with stopping Spain playing. 7/10

Arjen Robben

THE winger has had a brilliant season and would love to sign off with a World Cup win. Can conjure a dash of magic in an instant from his deadly left foot. Floats dangerously across the line coming in from the right flank with lethal effect but can lose focus when fouled. 9/10

Bert van Marwijk

LESS high profile than past Dutch bosses but has instilled harmony and spirit in his squad putting an end to the squad unrest that's undermined past tournaments. Tactically cute and has got the best from Sneijder and Robben. Recalling Mark van Bommel was a key move and has stuck with Robin van Persie even though the Arsenal star isn't fully firing.

Dirk Kuyt

THE Liverpool star is Holland's marathon man with a monster work-rate. Typifies the Dutch approach and will need every ounce of his energy to try and snuff out a Spain team who like to keep the ball. Has shown he can be a goal provider too and will need to support van Persie. 8/10

Robin van Persie

A club season blighted by an ankle injury could end in triumph on the world stage for the Arsenal star. Not been the threat we all imagined so far and hasn't caught fire - but always capable of an inspirational match-winning moment. Holland need him to deliver a big performance. 7/10

Batesey's Star Man: Wesley Sneijder

HOLDS the key for Holland. The dangerous schemer is at his physical peak with sky high confidence after a great World Cup that's triggered a big bid from Manchester United. Is Holland's natural play-maker who is looking for a fourth trophy after winning the treble with Inter Milan. 9/10

Iker Casillas

THE Real Madrid star and Spain skipper has been well protected at this World Cup by his defenders. But he's had a couple of worrying moments that might give Holland encourgement to test him out if they can get close. 8/10

Gerard Pique

SIR ALEX FERGUSON must be doing his nut at all the ex-Old Trafford stars who have done well at this World Cup and none have done much better than the 23-year-old defender. Not the quickest but positionally sound, a strong tackler and great passer. 8/10

Joan Capdevila

THE 32-year-old Villareal star is an unsung hero who has made left back his own. A solid all-rounder, he's nothing flash, is steady and likes to attack when he can. Good crosser of the ball and has a decent long range shot. Will have to work hard against Dirk Kuyt . 7/10

Sergio Ramos

A fierce and powerful competitor who takes no prisoners. Loves a battle and time spent as a midfielder means he likes to burst forward down the right to link up with Spain's attackers. A big danger at set-pieces but may be pinned back by Robben. 8/10

Carles Puyol

THE agile mop-haired 32-year-old has a sheer will to win that's tough to beat in the world game. A great organiser, he defends tigerishly and is quick to spot danger. Leaps well and can score - as Germany discovered in the semis. 8/10

Xabi Alonso

WHY Rafa Benitez fancied Gareth Barry more than Alonso is one of football's big mysteries. The ex-Kop midfielder is a class act behind the midfield magicians of Iniesta and Xavi. Breaks up play and can spray a pass.

Good on free kicks. 8/10

Sergio Busquets

ONLY 22, this Barcelona youngster is blessed with great vision, composure and ability on the ball. Protects his defence tenaciously, but also combines tidy distribution with an eye for goal. A gifted ball winner who will try, and snuff out Dutch danger. 8/10

David Villa

THE big danger for Holland's defence, Villa can conjure a goal from nothing and can shoot with either foot. Likes coming off the left flank, but likely to play as a lone striker against Holland down the middle. Wherever he plays, though, it spells trouble for the Dutch. 9/10

Pedro

STILL in his football infancy, the 22-year-old Barcelona star is fastbecoming a revelation in this Spain side. Not big but quick and sharp in possession, Pedro has two great feet and an ability to attack the opposing defence on either wing. Has good pace, an eye for goal and a real team ethic. 7/10

Xavi

PLAYER of the tournament at Euro 2008 and in the running again, Xavi is a vital cog in the Spain machine. Leads by example and keeps possession like he owns the ball. One of the best midfield conducters in the world, likes to dictate the tempo and give opponents the run around. 8/10

Batesey's Star Man: Andres Iniesta

THE creative brain directing this Spain team, 26-year-old Iniesta is a midfield genius who is always probing the space behind Spain's strikers. Combination of vision, quick feet, speed and an eye for a killer pass marks him out as a true great who can also fire in the odd goal. 9/10

Vicente Del Bosque

THE glum-faced Spaniard has shown he's calm and doesn't panic - even after Spain lost their opening game to Switzerland and needed to win their final match against Chile. Kept faith with his stars and even played out of sorts Fernando Torres until the semi-final. Not afraid to change tactics - or sub players who aren't doing the business. 9/10
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Jul 11, 2010
Words:1311
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