Eleven against eleven penpix of finalists

Eleven against eleven  penpix of finalists

Dirk Kuyt (left) of the Netherlands  and Spain’s Xavi. THE NETHERLANDS (likely team)

1Maarten Stekelenburg (Ajax Amsterdam). Goalkeeper.
Born Sept. 22 1982. Caps 33. Goals 0.
First-choice goalkeeper since Edwin van der Sar quit after the Euro 2008 finals. Deaf in one ear, Stekelenburg has shown his best form during this World Cup campaign with two clean sheets and made a crucial save from Kaka in the quarter-final against Brazil.

2Gregory van der Wiel (Ajax Amsterdam). Defender.
Born Feb 3 1988. Caps 14. Goals 0.
Offensive fullback, Van Der Wiel is the youngest player of the Dutch squad and has featured in four of the six matches. Was rested for the match against Cameroon and missed the semi-final through suspension but should be back for the final.

3John Heitinga (Everton). Defender.
Born Nov. 15 1983. Caps 60.
 Goals 6.
Heitinga has proved a merciless central defender who has not missed a minute so far of the tournament. He has formed a solid pairing with Mathijsen.

4Joris Mathijsen (Hamburg SV).
Defender. Born April 5 1980.
Caps 61. Goals 3.
Was criticised by the Dutch media before the tournament but has replied with some solid defensive work to appease fears about the defence. Missed only the quarter-final against Brazil when he pulled out with a knee injury during the warming up but returned for the semi-final.

5Giovanni van Bronckhorst (Feyenoord), Defender.
Born Feb. 5 1975. Caps 105. Goals 6.
Experienced first choice left back who started his career as playmaker in the Feyenoord youth side. He became the fourth Dutch player to reach 100 caps in the opening win over Denmark. Scored arguably the goal of the tournament when he blasted home a 35 meter drive to open the scoring against Uruguay in the semi-final. The final will be his last outing as player.

7Dirk Kuyt (Liverpool). Winger/Striker.
Born July 22 1980. Caps 69. Goals 16.
Kuyt started his career as central striker but now mainly plays from the right flank. Has played in all six matches in South Africa and has been praised for his labour and spirit.

6Mark van Bommel (Bayern Munich). Midfielder.
Born April 22 1977. Caps 62. Goals 10.
Came back from international retirement under coach Bert van Marwijk, who is his father-in-law. Has played every minute in South Africa and has been a rock in midfield, providing defensive cover.


8Nigel de Jong (Manchester City).
Midfielder. Born Nov 30 1984. Caps 47. Goals 1.
Together with Mark van Bommel, De Jong has been responsible for the defensive balance in the Dutch team. The tough-tackling midfielder missed only the semi-final match against Uruguay but is sure to return for the final.


10Wesley Sneijder (Inter Milan). Midfielder.
Born June 9 1984. Caps 67. Goals 19.
Attacking, free-scoring midfielder who could become the first player to win a domestic league and cup double, Champions League and World Cup in the same season. Sneijder is also on track to become player of the tournament having already won four man-of-the-match awards after scoring five goals in six matches to make him joint top scorer.

11Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich). Winger.
Born Jan. 23 1984. Caps 51. Goals 15.
The flying winger was in sensational form for his club Bayern Munich but missed the first two group stage matches after picking up a hamstring injury a week before the start of the tournament. Made his first appearance against Cameroon and has started every match of the knockout stages and scored twice.


9Robin van Persie (Arsenal). Forward.
Born Aug. 6 1983. Caps 50. Goals 19.
The Arsenal striker missed five months of the season after surgery on an injured ankle returning to score four goals in three warm-up matches but has not fulfilled the towering expectations in South Africa, scoring only once.  He was upset with coach Bert van Marwijk in the early part of the tournament after he was substituted but the row was quickly brushed aside by the team.


Spain (likely team)

1Iker Casillas (Real Madrid).
Goalkeeper. Born May 20 1981.
Caps 110. Goals 0.
The undisputed first choice, captain Casillas is considered one of the world's best goalkeepers. A brilliant shot stopper, but occasionally suspect under high balls, he had some uncharacteristic lapses at club level last season but saved a penalty in the quarter-final win over Paraguay.

15Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid).
Defender. Born March 30 1986.
Caps 66. Goals 5.
An athletic and tough-tackling right back who can also play in central defence, Ramos loves to get forward but can be tactically suspect. Helped keep club team mate Cristiano Ronaldo quiet in the second-round win over Portugal and is a potent goal-scoring threat from set pieces.

5Carles Puyol (Barcelona). Defender.
Born April 13 1978. Caps 89. Goals 3.
The shaggy-haired Barca defender has been at the heart of Spain's defence for a decade and scored a superb header against Germany to put Spain through to the final. He is constantly shouting out instructions but has a tendency to dive in and gives himself little margin for error.

3Gerard Pique (Barcelona). Defender.
Born Feb. 2 1987. Caps 22. Goals 4.
A commanding presence in central defence, he is never happier than when joining the attack as an auxiliary striker chasing late goals, has great timing in the tackle and is an astute passer. Has formed a solid partnership with club team mate Puyol in South Africa.

11Joan Capdevila (Villarreal). Defender.
Born Feb. 3 1978.
Caps 51. Goals 4.
An experienced and reliable left back, he was Vicente del Bosque's choice for the position during qualifying and has rewarded the coach's faith with a spotless performance at the World Cup. Likes to get forward and is an effective crosser.

16Sergio Busquets (Barcelona). Midfielder.
Born July. 16 1988.
Caps 19. Goals 0.
Busquets has similar passing ability to Xavi, Iniesta and Fabregas and is a tenacious ball-winner. He has started in every game for Spain in South Africa and Del Bosque has said the 23-year-old is the player he'd most like to be compared to. A weakness for playacting got him into trouble at times last season.

8Xavi (Barcelona). Midfielder.
Born Jan. 25 1980. Caps 93. Goals 8.
Midfield orchestrator Xavi has set new standards for a central playmaker over the past three seasons, leading Spain to victory at Euro 2008 and Barca to an unprecedented six trophies in 2009. Man of the match in the semi-final against Germany.

14Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid).
Midfielder. Born Nov. 25 1981.
Caps 75. Goals 9.
The hard-tackling Alonso had a decent first season at Real following his move from Liverpool without really stamping his authority on the side. A highly-respected member of the Spain squad, he gives Xavi the space to perform and likes shooting from distance. Missed a penalty in the quarter-final win over Paraguay.

6Andres Iniesta (Barcelona).
Midfielder. Born May 11 1984.
Caps 48. Goals 7.
A hugely-gifted ballplayer, Iniesta epitomises Barca's swift, counter-attacking style. Had a relatively quiet season, suffering several niggling injuries and scoring only one goal for his club, but has come good again in South Africa.

7David Villa (Barcelona). Forward.
Born Dec. 3 1981. Caps 64. Goals 43.
Villa's goal-scoring record for Spain speaks for itself and his spectacular performances in South Africa has added further shine to his reputation. The speedy Asturian is lethal with both feet and in the air and has scored five goals in six matches in South Africa to make him joint top scorer.

18Pedro (Barcelona). Forward.
Born July 28 1987. Caps 7.
Goals 1.
Pressure for Del Bosque to call up the versatile Pedro increased after he netted a number of vital goals for Barca against top-class opposition. Preferred to Torres in the semi-final and his impressive performance could earn him a starting place in the final. 

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