Football / Preview / World Cup Sunday 11Th June

World Cup: Sunday 11th June

A new World Cup winner will be crowned on Sunday evening as Spain and the Netherlands attempt to become just the eighth nation to lift the coveted trophy.

Iker Casillas

 

Netherlands (Bettorlogic rank1) v Spain (2) (Sun, 19:30)

The World Cup is guaranteed a new winner on Sunday evening as the Netherlands advanced to a third world final before European Champions Spain edged out Germany to reach their first. Incredibly these two nations have never previously met in a finals match.

The last nine World Cup and Euro finals between two neutral teams have all finished with fewer than three goals and given Spain’s insistence on trying to walk the ball into the net it looks likely that this will be another low-scoring affair unless someone can recreate the type of wonder goal Geo van Bronckhorst struck in the semis. Of these nine matches, three have had either one or no goals and six were level at half-time, with five goalless at the interval. Since 1970 there have been eight World Cup and European finals between two neutral sides separated by fewer than four ranking positions and the spoils were evenly split with three wins each for the higher and the lower ranked side and two draws. However, five of the eight were level at half-time.

The Dutch have played six matches against teams ranked within two positions of themselves since 1990 and five of those games have been goalless at half-time. Further, they have won all of their opening six games in this World Cup, Brazil in 2002 are the only team to have previously managed such a feat en route to their 2-0 win over Germany. Incidentally, that final was also goalless at the break. The Netherlands have a fantastic World Cup record against top-five ranked teams with 12 wins and just four defeats from 21 matches stretching back to 1974, which included their defeat of Brazil in the quarters here. Bucking the under goals trend is the stat that 15 (71%) of the games have settled the +2.5 goals market. Moreover, they have scored in all of their 10 such knockout fixtures, netting more than once on seven occasions, but they have kept just one clean sheet.

Impressively, Spain have now kept six consecutive clean sheets in knockout matches since their Last 16 exit courtesy of France in the 2006 World Cup. Vicente del Bosque’s side looked comfortable at the back in their semi, despite facing the most potent attacking force of the tournament so far in Germany. It should not be skipped over lightly that Spain kept a clean sheet against the team that had previously put four goals past Argentina and three past England in the knockout stage. Although it may look as if they rely on stopping their opponents scoring these days, Spain have won eight of their 13 finals matches when they have conceded and Iker Casillas has been in goal. Historically, Spain have a poor record against top-five ranked sides with just three wins from 14 games. 10 of the matches were tied at the interval while nine settled the -2.5 goals market, however this Spain side is much stronger than previous incarnations. Of their three games against top-five teams since they were knocked out in the quarter-finals of Euro 2000 by Spain, they have recorded two 1-0 victories (both over Germany) and a scoreless draw with Italy in Euro 2008.

Those who may favour the Dutch should be encouraged by the fact that since 1970, all but one of the winners had the higher points per game during the tournament just as the Dutch have on this occasion. Furthermore, there have been nine finalists who have scored less than 10 goals in the tournament (Spain have scored seven) and the two that prevailed both faced opponents that had also failed to score more than nine. Spain also have to overcome the fact that the last team to lift the trophy having lost a finals match was Argentina in 1978 and since then five of the last seven finals have featured such teams. Ordinarily that might be enough to persuade us that the Dutch are worth backing at 2.62 to lift the trophy but Spain have already defied some strong trends during this tournament and that makes us wary.

The first goal is sure to be vitally important on Sunday evening as in the previous 20 World Cup or Euro finals since 1970 just one team has scored first and lost – the Netherlands in 1974 – with 13 teams winning and five finishing level. Finally, we can expect a winner here as just six of the 20 such finals have been tied at 90 minutes – three of the drawn games were settled in extra-time and three on penalties.

Recommendation: Half-time Draw at 2.1, Bet365
 

 
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