Sport Andres Iniesta trains with the Spain squad

The playmaker came through the ranks at Barcelona while van Gaal was manager at the Camp Nou and reserved praise of the highest order for the Dutch coach

Andy Cole: Centre-forwards are dying out – Sneijder is a new breed of goalscorer

If the quality of the football at this World Cup has been called into question, there can be no argument about the fact we have seen some scintillating performances from attacking players and some stunning goals. For obvious reasons, I have been studying my fellow strikers closer than any other players in South Africa and the race for the Golden Boot has been thrilling.

Spanish celebrations: 'They've done more for us than all our politicians'

Fiesta. Fiesta in the packed, smoky pubs. Fiesta with family in the homes. Fiesta on the sweltering streets.

James Lawton: Defeat of Dutch spoiling tactics is a victory for all who dared hope for more

The Dutch battle plan was, unlike that of Spain, to spoil and harass and then strike out for any possibilities that might come their way. It might just have come off

The man who taught Spain to play

Pass masters Xavi and Iniesta are just two talents to emerge from the Barcelona academy which Van Gaal built

Errors & Omissions: Friends, Romans and fans of classical allusions...

Cross that bridge: James Lawton last Saturday wrote of "Andy Murray's latest failure to cross the Rubicon of great achievement". It was an attempt to raise an indifferent game of tennis (itself an indifferent game, but we won't go into that) to the level of the heroic. But if you are going to make classical allusions, it is better to get them right.

Robben happy to win ugly with Holland

Arjen Robben would be delighted to win ugly in the World Cup final on Sunday.

Pedro to crown remarkable rise by keeping out Torres

There were eight minutes remaining in Durban on Wednesday when two Spaniards sprang through the threadbare German defence. Fernando Torres sent Pedro Rodriguez clear and ran on in eager support waiting for the return ball that would offer him the simplest of chances to spark his World Cup into belated life. It never came.

Pedro gives Del Bosque extra edge

Knowing precisely how Spain are going to play, endlessly pushing the ball around between their technically gifted midfielders, does not necessarily make them any easier to defend against. Germany knew exactly what to expect, and for a long time were able to restrict them to mainly long-range shooting form Xabi Alonso – always a sign that the attacking side are failing to find a way through.

Spain head to final thanks to Puyol's sledgehammer

Germany 0 Spain 1

Low focusing on midfield battle

Germany coach Joachim Low believes that neutralising Andres Iniesta and Xavi will be the key to his side's hopes of upsetting Spain in tomorrow's World Cup semi-final in Durban.

James Lawton: Del Bosque has steep climb to scale heights of Latin America

It was time for a European response to the idea that South America are taking hold of this World Cup – and if Spain couldn't make a convincing one, who could?

Villa up and running but Torres off the pace

Spain 2 Honduras 0

Reina says Spain cannot live in the past

Spain goalkeeper Jose Reina last night warned his team of European champions could not afford to "live off the past" as they prepare for a make-or-break World Cup match against Honduras.

Favourites fail to strike back in first major upset of finals

Spain 0 Switzerland 1

James Lawton: What have we learnt so far? That there is no invincible team to fear

It is too soon to condemn this World Cup but concern is unavoidable. There has been no limit to the hype: now it is delivery time
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