Our experts' final predictions


James Lawton, Chief Sports Writer


Most of football is in love with Spain – and for impeccable reasons.

They glorify the game with their willingness to work so hard to achieve such beauty. But they do have one shortcoming. They do not score enough goals. In the hard, finishing quality of Wesley Sneijder, Arjen Robben and, maybe, Robin van Persie, the Dutch have the means to inflict the punishment. Holland, 2-1.

Sam Wallace, Football Correspondent

Spain are just about the only team you would back not to lose their heads in a crisis. Xavi and Andres Iniesta just keep on passing, keep on probing. Still, the Dutch will make it hard for them. They might even nick the first goal but my prediction would be for Spain to come from behind and win.

Lee Dixon, Independent Columnist

Spain to win 2-1. They have the best midfield in the world and are running into form at exactly the right moment. They were much the better side against Germany and I cannot see the Dutch, who are suspect right across their backline, having enough to cope with Spain's array of attacking options.

Neil Warnock, Independent Columnist

Spain can withstand the strengths of Holland and I expect them to win, maybe 2-1. They can keep the ball and they have the armoury to put them away. Spain started badly but their timing is right. Besides, I tipped them at the start and have to stick with them.

Glenn Moore, Football Editor

It will be absorbing, rather than enthralling, until Spain score. The Dutch are too cautious to push forward unless they must. When the game opens up Spain will impose themselves and win by a goal.

Steve Tongue, Football Correspondent, Independent on Sunday

Most important thing is that the game lives up to its potential, which is likely. That will require Spain's passing to be as effective as in the semi-final, preferably with more clinical finishing against a fallible Dutch defence. Spain to win 2-1.

Tim Rich, Football Writer

Spain to win. The clash between midfields should be intense and memorable. But in attack while Robin van Persie has promised, David Villa has delivered. In defence; Spain have not conceded in the World Cup's knockout phase, the Dutch have not kept a clean sheet.

Paul the Octopus, Psychic pundit

Not one of our expert correspondents but unlike some of the above the celebrated octopus has a 100 per cent record of correct predictions at this World Cup. After much deliberation, Paul, based at the Oberhausen zoo, has plumped for Spain to win as he seeks to make a clean sweep of South Africa 2010.

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