This one has a chance to be memorable

The Associated Press ~ staff The News
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A new champion will be crowned at the World Cup on Sunday, when Spain meets the Netherlands in a final which has the potential to be a classic.

Well-organized and experienced but blessed with finesse and flair, Spain has the roster to outplay any team in the world.

A truck driver decorates this truck with a Spanish flag in Madrid Friday prior to the World Cup final Sunday when Spain will play the Netherlands. Photo by The Associated Press

JOHANNESBURG -

A new champion will be crowned at the World Cup on Sunday, when Spain meets the Netherlands in a final which has the potential to be a classic.

Well-organized and experienced but blessed with finesse and flair, Spain has the roster to outplay any team in the world.

The Dutch have forwards, wingers and midfielders capable of slicing through any defence.

The first World Cup final to be staged in Africa should be a memorable one if both teams bring their best game to Soccer City on Sunday (CBC, 3:45 p.m. NT).

Although some of its stars looked short of fitness and form in the early stages, Spain produced its best performance in Wednesday's 1-0 semifinal victory over Germany. It looked more like the squad that brushed teams aside to win the European Championship two years ago.

"We've shown that in the big moments we can grow even more," said striker David Villa, who is level with Dutchman Wesley Sneijder as leading scorer with five goals. "We should have scored more goals, but one from (Carles) Puyol has put us in the final.

"This is one of the greatest moments for Spain, for us to be in the final of the World Cup, it's history. And we want to make more history in the final."

The European champion faces a Dutch side which at times oozes class but has a habit of falling short when it really matters.

Although the Netherlands too has won a European title, that was back in 1988 and this is its first World Cup final since '78 - when it lost to Argentina in Buenos Aires.

"It's quite something to have achieved this after 32 years," coach Bert van Marwijk said. "That only really sank in right at the end of the match when I was sitting there on the bench. But we can't stop here. We have one more match to go."

Van Marwijk is striving to brush aside the tendency to choke in the late stages. The team lost finals in 1974 and '78 when it had probably its best ever team and has since wilted in semifinals of both the World Cup and European Championship.

Longtime Associated Press sports writer Robert Millward died Thursday in South Africa. This was the last story he filed before his death.

Organizations: CBC, Associated Press

Geographic location: Spain, Netherlands, JOHANNESBURG Africa Soccer Germany Argentina Buenos Aires South Africa

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