JOHANNESBURG, July 11 – Striker David Villa says Spain will need to stifle the Netherlands' attack if the Spanish are going to lift the World Cup on Sunday after reaching their first final.
With five goals to his name, Villa has a chance of winning the Golden Boot if he can score in Sunday’s final at Soccer City, but Barcelona’s latest signing says Spain must first stop the Dutch getting the ball.
Having starved Germany of possession to dominate Wednesday’s semi-final and secure a 1-0 win in Durban, Villa says Spain will need to be just as good technically against Bert van Marwijk’s Holland.
"In the semi-final, Germany wanted to have the ball and play with their own weapons, but we took possession and forced them into defence," said Villa.
"We forced them to go backwards. We expect the Dutch to want to have the ball, they like to play and they will want to attack.
"We want to make it hard for them to get the ball. If we do what we managed to do against Germany, it will go a long way to victory."
Midfielder Xavi agreed that while football fans are eager to see whether Holland’s Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder can match Spain’s attack in a potential goal bonanza, possession could well decide the winners.
"I don’t think the war will be fought in midfield," said the Barcelona playmaker.
"Whoever has the most possession will probably win the match. We have to make sure we get as much of the ball as we can. But the Dutch are very good at holding possession and we have to contend with that."
Having failed to win by more than a single goal in any of their World Cup matches to date, Xavi admits the final would be the ideal time for Spain to find their scoring touch.
"It is clear we have not scored many goals," said the 30-year-old.
"We are feeling very comfortable with the way we are playing, and we are creating plenty of opportunities. Usually when you do that, you tend to get goals.
"But we are not converting the chances to our normal percentage. Let’s see if we can lift that because it will be particularly important tomorrow."
Liverpool’s Fernando Torres was axed for the semi-final and his replacement, Barcelona’s 22-year-old Pedro Rodriguez, did well enough in Durban to give Vicente Del Bosque a selection headache.
The Spanish coach will need to decide who will partner Villa up front, but the Barca new boy has no preference.
"It would be a great honour to play with either of them," said Villa.
"They are both spectacular players who would help me to do my work around the pitch. But the beauty of our squad is that we have so many people like that. It is a pleasure to play with them all, so I will just leave it for the coach to decide."