The World Cup Final Is Set: Spain Vs. Netherlands
ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:
MIKE PESCA: Hi.
SIEGEL: And what was the key to Spain's win today?
PESCA: What happened in this game that really hurt Germany was Thomas Mueller, one of their best players, was not allowed to play, and it was due to a bad referee call the game before - a handball - that he shouldn't been yellow carded for. So it's less easy to point to that exactly and say that was the exact reason, but it really had a big impact and hurt the German counterattack.
SIEGEL: Well, the Spanish will face the Dutch on Sunday and tell us what the Dutch bring to that match, apart from those great orange uniforms?
PESCA: So although the cognizant, you know, are maybe saying the Dutch aren't gelling quite like the Spanish, they have won every single game. They've only trailed by about 40 minutes the entire World Cup. They went behind Brazil early. But the fact that they came back to beat Brazil, which was the number one team in the FIFA rankings, bodes well for their chances. The number two team in the FIFA rankings was Spain.
SIEGEL: One thing we know is that there will be a first-time World Cup champion because neither Spain nor the Netherlands has won before.
PESCA: And it's also the first time since 1978 when Argentina played the Netherlands that we have two teams playing each other, neither one of which have won a World Cup. The Dutch are known as the best soccer nation never to have won a World Cup. And Spain right now pretty much look like just the best soccer nation.
SIEGEL: And it's the first time that there will be a European champion in a World Cup not played in Europe. I researched that.
PESCA: Yeah. They normally have the home continent advantage, yes.
SIEGEL: Here's your big opportunity. Want to make a prediction in the final game?
PESCA: Well, I know I looked - that Ladbrokes, the English broker, says Spain should win by about two to one. That sounds about right with me. Unless - and I'm going to throw this out there - if LeBron James tomorrow in his announcement, announces he will be playing for the Netherlands, I think that could put them over the top.
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
SIEGEL: Okay, Mike, thank you very much.
PESCA: You're welcome.
SIEGEL: That's NPR's Mike Pesca in New York.
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