Friday, 9 July 2010

WORLD CUP: Spain fan? Bet on Holland

OK the cephalopod ain't bad, but has it checked the stats?

Sometimes it's the simplest strategies that work the best.  I'll be rooting for Spain on Sunday night purely because they play the kind of football the gods of the game created it for.  And that's precisely why I just put twenty smackers on Holland to win. 

See, I have a gnawing fear.  Spain lead 1-0 right up to the 90th minute, when Robben weaves his way into the box: Sergio Ramos sticks out his right leg, the Dutchman executes a perfect triple salko to hit the deck and - 


Having equalized the Dutch grind their way through extra time and in the penalty shoot out our plucky Spanish boys wilt under pressure, leaving those big Dutch bruisers clutching the trophy.  

Refuse to entertain the thought?  Consider that well-known stat: no team has ever lost their first match in the group stage and gone on to lift the World Cup.  Why should that be?  No one knows for sure, could be pure coincidence... but let me hazard a guess. 

It stands to reason that to win the ultimate trophy a team needs two things aside from great teamwork and sheer footballing skill: total consistency of performance, and the ability to handle extreme pressure.  

In the very first game at the World Cup finals, players are at their most vulnerable: many will never have experienced that level of scrutiny and intensity before.  They'll be absolutely pumping with nerves and adrenaline, something they may not experience again until they reach the final.  If they have the coolness and self-belief to win that first game convincingly - then keep on winning - they've shown the mental strength to become world champions.

In their first game, the Netherlands displayed killer instinct to beat Denmark 2-0.  In Spain's first game, they were were smothered, out-defended and beaten 1-0 by... the sons of the cuckoo clock.

Charging through the Spanish defences

So if the Swiss can do it, I'm willing to bet the Dutch can do it too.  I got 13/8 with Corals. 

And if Spain happen to give a silky smooth display to outclass Holland and win beautifully with a ton in hand, there'll be no one more happy than me.  

£20 insurance against disappointment?  Friends, that's great value.  Enjoy!