POTCHEFSTROOM - Spain owe a large debt of gratitude to their World Cup final opponents Netherlands because of the strong Dutch influence at Barcelona down the years, according to midfielder Sergio Busquets.
Seven Barca players started the semi-final against Germany, including Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Busquets, all of whom have inherited something of the legacy handed down from Dutch coaches Johan Cruyff through Louis van Gaal to Frank Rijkaard.
The emphasis on attack, the dominance of possession and the rapid passing moves that can rip open the best-organised defences are all characteristics that trace their roots to Cruyff's Barca 'Dream Team' of the early 1990s.
"I can talk to you about Van Gaal and Cruyff, who brought important players through from the youth system," Busquets told a packed news conference at Spain's training base on Friday.
"Rijkaard also pushed the 4-3-3 philosophy which is important for Barca and has also helped the national team," the 21-year-old added.
The Barca-Dutch connection does not end there. Netherlands assistant coaches Frank de Boer and Phillip Cocu both played for Barcelona, as did Netherlands captain Giovanni van Bronckhorst and midfield stalwart Mark van Bommel.
Spain defender Carlos Marchena told the news conference that having so many players from Barca, which he said was currently "the best team in the world", was a guarantee of success.
"The (Barcelona) players know each other to perfection and it's a pleasure being at their side," he added.
Busquets, widely praised for his performances in South Africa as one of two holding midfielders, said Dutch playmaker Wesley Sneijder was clearly the dangerman in Sunday's final.
"He's a great player and has proved that at all the clubs he has played for, especially at Inter (Milan) this season," Busquets said of the midfielder who helped win a unique treble for an Italian club of Serie A, domestic and European Cup.
"We'll try to stop him as we would any other player, working together and trying to deny him the time to think," he added.
"We have had to try to stop other really great players at this tournament and, hopefully, Sunday's game will be the same and we'll have the same positive result."
Marchena said the Dutch had a "very complete" side.
"They defend very well, they have a great goalkeeper (Maarten Stekelenburg) and players in the middle who are very organised.
"Up front, they have some lethal goalscorers and a lot of pace, especially on the counter attack," he said.
Spain face Netherlands at Soccer City in Johannesburg on Sunday with both sides bidding for a first World Cup triumph.