JOHANNESBURG - Spain have taken a leaf out of the Dutch textbook of "total football" in reaching Sunday's World Cup final at Soccer City, according to Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk on Friday.
Van Marwijk said Spain's style of play was mainly based on the successful tactics of Barcelona which had been created over the decades through the influence of such great Dutch coaches as Rinus Michels, Johan Cruyff and Louis van Gaal.
"Spain is largely influenced by Barcelona, with six or seven players, and Barcelona still has a big Dutch stamp with coaches like Cruyff and Michels," Van Marwijk told reporters.
"So that is a big compliment for Dutch football."
Van Marwijk said European champions Spain had adopted a very similar "total football" style to the Netherlands - but possibly did it better.
"Everyone looks how Spain play when they possess the ball, but if you see how the whole team, including the offensive line, puts pressure on their opponent when they lose the ball, it is clear that that is one of their strongest points," he added.
"But that is also something we try to do."
So far the Dutch have won all six matches this campaign, while their opponents made a false start as they suffered a 1-0 defeat against Switzerland in their Group H opener.
But after that Spain got back on track and registered five straight wins to clinch their spot in the final.
Van Marwijk, who said he disregarded talk that Spain were favourites, added that Vicente del Bosque's team had shown more consistency than his side so far in the tournament despite the Swiss reverse.
"We won six straight, had some phases of playing good football but also were sloppy in finishing some well executed attacks to finish matches, while Spain have been less sloppy in that aspect," he added.
"Over the last few years I have really enjoyed watching them and we will respect them but we do not fear them.
"We will play our own game."
The term "total football" was first coined in the early 1970s to describe the way the then Dutch side defended and attacked as an entire team, with each player with the exception of the keeper able to switch roles at any time.comments