Dutch legend Johan Cruyff feels that Spain simply play better football than Holland and expects Vicente del Bosque's side to win tonight's World Cup final.
Cruyff, 63, was part of the Dutch side that reached the final in 1974 – they lost 2-1 to West Germany – but had retired from international football by the time Holland fell at the final hurdle four years later, losing 3-1, again to the hosts, Argentina.
A legend at Barcelona having graced the club as both a player and a coach, Cruyff is well-placed to judge both sides and sees Spain coming out on top tonight, if they are allowed to play their natural game. "Spain have always had good footballers and never a team, but now they have one," Cruyff said.
"They have worked very well in the last few years and if they get into their rhythm, they should win. Normally Spain play better [than Holland], but that doesn't mean they will win."
Cruyff was less enthusiastic about Holland, but believes Bert van Marwijk's side are an efficient outfit with two or three players who are at the top of their game.
"Holland is a very balanced team, they know their strengths and their weaknesses, and up until now [at this World Cup] they have always been able to make their strengths shine through," he said.
"They have two or three players playing at an exceptional level at the World Cup, and the team's level has risen enormously."
Meanwhile, another footballing great, Michel Platini, is said to be fighting fit again after his health scare on Friday night. The Fifa president Sepp Blatter revealed yesterday he had spoken with Platini's parents, who told him that the Frenchman had a history of fainting, but insisted that there was nothing to worry about.
Blatter revealed: "I spoke with him. He will not be at the match [last night's third-place play-off between Germany and Uruguay in Port Elizabeth], but he had already planned that because he's affected by flu. And then yesterday he fainted but it's not the first time. His parents, with whom I had contact this morning, said it happened from time to time to him. But now it's time – he's 55 years old– to make a good check.
"It's nothing to do with his heart, it's all OK, and I'm very happy and everybody is happy, football is happy, Europe is happy, and he will be in the final [tonight]."
Franz Beckenbauer, who won the World Cup with West Germany as a player and a coach, added that Platini was well, but admitted he was shocked when he first heard the news.
"He's well, this was not serious," Beckenbauer said. "But when at first you get the information, I got the information on Friday night, and of course you get a shock, but now it's all fine."Reuse content