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

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

Goals stood little chance against flooded midfield

Anyone who thought last night's match was going to be an end-to-end thriller has not been paying attention this past month. Caution has been the underlying theme of this World Cup. In that sense, the finals got the final it deserved, if not the excellent and joyous hosts. There have been some rivetting matches, but they have usually occurred when one team has been chasing a goal, either because they needed to win the match, or because their opponents had scored early.

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.

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.

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

Favourites fail to strike back in first major upset of finals

Spain 0 Switzerland 1
Career Services

Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Grandvalira Skiing, Andorra
Vietnam & Cambodia
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples
India & Nepal
All Inclusive Lanzarote
Five-star Sharm El Shiekh Holiday
Prices correct as of 31 October 2014
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines
Will Smith's children have made waves with a gloriously over-the-top interview, but will their music match their musings?

What are Jaden and Willow on about?

Will Smith's children have made waves with a gloriously over-the-top interview, but will their music match their musings?
Fridge gate: How George Osborne keeping his fridge padlocked shows a frosty side to shared spaces

Cold war

How George Osborne keeping his fridge padlocked shows a frosty side to shared spaces
Stocking fillers: 10 best loo books

Stocking fillers: 10 best loo books

From dogs in cars to online etiquette, while away a few minutes in peace with one of these humorous, original and occasionally educational tomes
Malky Mackay appointed Wigan manager: Three texts keep Scot’s rehabilitation on a knife-edge

Three texts keep Mackay’s rehabilitation on a knife-edge

New Wigan manager said all the right things - but until the FA’s verdict is delivered he is still on probation, says Ian Herbert
Louis van Gaal: the liberal, the enemy and... err, the poet

Louis van Gaal: the liberal, the enemy and... err, the poet

‘O, Louis’ is the plaintive title of a biography about the Dutchman. Ian Herbert looks at what it tells us about the Manchester United manager
Isis in Iraq: Baghdad hails the retaking of the Baiji oil refinery as the start of the long fightback against the Islamist militants

Isis takes a big step back

Baghdad hails the retaking of the Baiji oil refinery as the start of the long fightback against the Islamist militants
Bill Cosby: America’s beloved TV ‘dad’ or serial rapist?

Bill Cosby: America’s beloved TV ‘dad’ or serial rapist?

Ukip silk bow ties, Green Party T-shirts, and 'Iron Baby' romper suits: How to shop politically

How to shop politically

Ukip silk bow ties, Green Party T-shirts, and 'Iron Baby' romper suits
The science of sex: What happens when science meets erotica

Sex on the brain

Fetishes, dominatrixes, kinks and erotica. They are subjects that should get the crowds flocking to a new exhibition at the Wellcome Collection