"So what are you wearing?" asks Rob Pobre, in a less-than-promising start. "I don't mean it like that." Oh. "Did you put your England kit away and start wearing the German jersey?" Believe it or not I'm wearing a Waukesha YMCA Flag Football shirt, in neutral red -- I hear Spain are playing in blue, before you start.
"I predict: simmering in-fighting and a slightly off-key Sneijder/Robben/Persie," says Matthew Harris, caressing his crystal ball. "Arjen Robben's all-too-predictable nudging of the ball towards the middle at a half-trot will call for more creative weirdness to avoid being stymied by Pique/Puyols. Can Eljero Elia come off the bench and meld with the older guys? Can Van Bommel and Matheijsen rise to the occasion and play smart? Van Bommel is an unsung hero in the Bundesliga, truly important to Bayern München, deserves to win, though I am a bit wary of the cockiness of some big stars compared to a generally team-centered, star-studded Spanish side."
"Paul the Octopus will be history and nothing would be finer than Paul to be eaten by the diners," foresees Harm van der Veen, who -- and it's just a hunch! -- is probably Dutch. "The orange will have a feast, with Paul cooked to perfection. Eet smakelyk! Holland will win!"
I'm not one for overstatement, but IT'S NEARLY TIME FOR THE WORLD CUP FINAL! Spain are unchanged from the 11 that won the semifinal, the Dutch welcome back Gregory van der Wiel and Nigel de Jong to line up 1-11. Maravilloso! Prachtig!
Netherlands: Maarten Stekelenburg, Gregory van der Wiel, John Heitinga, Joris Mathijsen, Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Arjen Robben, Mark van Bommel, Wesley Sneijder, Nigel de Jong, Dirk Kuyt, Robin van Persie.
Spain: Iker Casillas; Sergio Ramos, Carlos Puyol, Gerard Piqué, Joan Capdevila; Sergio Busquets, Xabi Alonso; Andres Iniesta, Xavi, Pedro; David Villa.
Pre-match ceremonial gubbins and whatnot: The World Cup trophy is on the pitch, attracting a maniac from the crowd, who is rugby-tackled to the ground before he can get his grubby mitts on it. Sepp Blatter and Jacob Zuma do the meet and greet looking like they've had an excellent dinner from hospitality. Blatter's still licking his lips.
The anthems: Either there are no vuvuzelas in the ground, or the Dutch contingent is strong, because I can actually hear the music and some singing. Fair chance Mark van Bommel is tone deaf. Oh no, the vuvuzelas are back for Spain's tune. Joan Capdevila looks down the camera like Humphrey Bogart giving Ingrid Bergman the eye.
Kickoff: The Oranje get the 2010 World Cup final underway. Hold onto your hats!
Van Persie takes a dislike to the back of Busquets' knee, and sticks a boot into it. Good start.
Spain slightly more authoritative so far, but an offside flag ruins Villa's first run. "It seems almost everybody (including Paul the Octopus) is picking Spain to win," notices Mark Schmidt. "Nevertheless, I'm pulling for Holland. Admittedly, I only came over in full since the U.S. and England went out, but they've rewarded me with steady progress and some good goals. Maybe they can pull off another." For the record, I'm not pulling for Spain, or anyone [nods sagely, rubbing journalism certificates]. I just think they're the better team on paper.
So close! Xavi's free kick swings onto Ramos's head, and Stekelenburg can only parry ... Pique ends up at the far post with the ball at his feet but Stekelenburg gets across to make the save. Vital for Holland not to concede this early.
"Netherlands 2, Spain 0," forecasts Buckminster Fuller. "Now please use your powers of wit and analysis to answer the truly pressing questions: do you think his better-coiffed teammates leave high-end hair care products in the locker of Puyol?" More to the point, do you think Ramos ever looks in the mirror, then across at Puyol, and thinks: 'In 10 years' time...'
Busquets miscontrols a pass from Alonso (unheard of!) to allow Kuyt a free shot at goal, but he's a good few yards outside the area and the ball bobbles tamely into Casillas's arms.
Sneijder finds himself dispossessed by the Alonso-Busquets pickpocketing ring, but the ball by Xavi over the top for Villa is too strong.
Another "Oooh!" moment! Busquets finds Xavi, who works the ball across to Ramos, who tricks his way into the area and see his shot poked over the bar by Heitinga. Then Villa hits the side-netting from the corner!
"I'm picking the Dutch 3-2," announces Jimmy Perez. "They've gotten 12 goals from six different players. Spain's seven have come from only three players, with five of those coming from Villa. I just think the Dutch have a more balanced side, and they've been better at finishing, which doesn't hurt." Fair enough. But they'll need to improve on the opening 10 minutes or so.
Yellow Card - Van Persie
Robin van Persie gets booked for his second loose challenge. Thought Capdevila had made something of a meal of it, but he's convinced the physio he needs some magic spray, anyway.
Yellow Card - Puyol
"The whole of England is gripped, anticipating a virtuoso display of World Class officiating," chuckles Sam Burroughs. Well, Mr Webb's just bought a delightful yelping-tumble (from a limited edition of 650,000) from Robben, and Puyol goes in the book.
Sneijder whips the free-kick in straight at goal, but Casillas makes a reasonable comfortable take. Holland just starting to find their feet a little. That was a foul from Puyol, incidentally. Just not quite as lethal as Robben made out.
Robben scuttles past Alonso and looks to shimmy around Capdevila before Alonso gets back to stick the ball out for a corner, which Spain deal with no bother.
Yellow Card - Van Bommel
Van Bommel's attempts to sweet talk referees pre-games hasn't worked on Ingerland's Howard Webb: he goes straight into the book for a thumping tackle from behind on Iniesta.
Yellow Card - Ramos
And now Ramos has been booked for a tackle on Kuyt. The Liverpool winger would rather have had the advantage -- especially after watching Sneijder's free-kick go straight into Casillas's hands. This has been an enjoyable, if not break-neck opening quarter of the game, by my reckoning.
"I have a feeling Spain will score more goals in this final than their trend over the last few games," reckons Fidencio Aguilar. There's no rhythm to this game yet, however. A slightly tetchy battle in the middle third at the moment.
Yellow Card - De Jong
Nigel de Jong gets booked for a nasty tackle on Alonso, I'm really not sure how he's stayed on the pitch there. He sticks his foot up and out with absolutely no chance of getting the ball, but every chance of planting it straight into Alonso's chest. Lucky boy, Nigel.
Spain have kept the ball a while, but there's a lot of sideways passing as the Dutch charge down anything that looks like space to run into. Eventually Villa looks to get the ball forward to Pedro, but it's cut out and hoiked away. If this game was a drum solo, it would sound like Animal rather than Keith Moon. No rhythm whatsoever.
Casillas misjudges a back pass, which bounces over his outstretched hand and just wide of goal! Sportingly, van Persie plays the resulting corner straight back to the keeper. Ah, brings a tear to your eye, this World Cup camaraderie. When they're not kicking lumps out of each other, of course.
A chorus of Hup Holland Hup works its away around the stands... possibly the first time I've heard actual chanting for a while. It urges the men in orange forward and Robben wins a corner ...
... but eventually the chance to shoot falls to Mathijsen, and he gives the air behind the ball a good kick.
Pedro races forwards from the centre circle, working the ball onto his left and unleashes an early shot, but it's pulled well wide.
So, in "previously on Desperate Housewives" style: the Dutch have succeeded in disrupting the usual flow of Spain's play, but haven't succeeded in producing much soccer themselves.
Wonderful moment of skill from Pedro as Spain look to break, but his ball across to (I think) Ramos -- someone scampering down inside right channel, anyway -- is cut out and Spain have to defend again. Your half-time challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to write the team-talks of van Marwijk and del Bosque.
Hang about, what's this?! The Dutch apply some decent pressure to the Spanish goal, Puyol forced to head clear before Casillas gets down to his near post to deny Robben.
So, 15 minutes for oranges and a cup of tea. Get scribbling.
Weak effort on the emails, chaps, but fortunately I have van Marwijk's team-talk right here.
Spain kickoff another 45 minutes of premier cage-fighting. I can hear a bell in the crowd. Is that bloke from Portsmouth here?
Webb lectures van Persie and Ramos about their manners before a corner, in full-on local policeman mode. Puyol nods Xavi's corner to Capdevila, but only the bottom of his studs touch the ball.
"Put ice skates on Puyol, he would look like a hockey player," says Rob Pobre. "What a fantastic mullet. The Blackhawks seem to be giving away players since they won the Stanley Cup last month. Puyol would be a welcome addition."
Kuyt and Robben flirt with the idea of attacking Casillas's goal for a while before Robben builds up the courage to make the first move. Casillas makes a pretty comfortable save. Second half much like the first so far: frequent changeover of possession, mistakes aplenty.
No kung fu moves yet, mind you.
Xavi tries to tease a free-kick around the wall and into the top corner, but can only find the stanchion. Always said he was rubbish. Heh heh.
Yellow Card - Heitinga
Webb gives Heitinga a yellow card for saying his pate was shiniest. Taking out Villa's standing leg didn't help his cause, however.
This game has got the temper of the queue outside a nightclub in northern England now. There will be hair-pulling before you know it. Heitinga heads the ball just wide from a free-kick, but he was offside anyway.
Out: Pedro , In: Jesus Navas
Pedro is replaced by Jesus Navas. Disappointingly, the camera fails to pan to Torres's face. He can't be a happy bunny.
How is it not 1-0 to the Dutch?! Sneijder's ball carves right through Pique and Capdevila, Robben runs onto it and has only Casillas to beat, but the keeper gets his little toe to it and diverts it wide!
That is the kind of moment of which nightmares are made. If Robben doesn't head home as a World Cup winner, that'll have him waking up in cold sweats for the rest of his life.
Yellow Card - Capdevila
"This had a chance to showcase soccer at its most beautiful," says Brian O'Connor, shaking his head sorrowfully. "Instead, the propensity of Spain and the Netherlands to fake injuries will turn the world off. Is this some sort of tribute to the missing academy award winners from Italy?" Is there a headbutt coming? Capdevila is booked for clipping van Persie's ankle as he looked to break. Van Persie opts against a Gwyneth.
Tight offside call against Villa as Pique strides forward attempting to rouse this rabble. Then the ball is sneaked through to Villa in the six-yard box from Navas and Heitinga throws himself in front of the shot to keep things even! Extra-time was my big fear for this match, and not just because the battery's running low on my laptop.
Out: Kuyt , In: Eljero Elia
Kuyt off, Elia on...
The game has become noticeably faster in the last few minutes, cranking the tension up to 11.
Heitinga gifts Spain a free-kick just outside the area, in the kind of territory from which you generally should be able to tempt the ball up and down again. But Villa fires it well over, perhaps focusing on the Golden Shoe a little too much.
"It's 4:50 a.m. in Japan," yawns Michelle Marquardt. "Going to be a little tired for work on Monday. Predicting Spain will win 1‐0." They're definitely pressing harder now.
Del Bosque must have money on the Netherlands to win this: Ramos has just put a free header from four yards out over the bar!
Here's the Zidane moment: Iniesta reacts to a foul from van Bommel (that goes unnoticed by Webb) by sticking a shoulder into the Dutchman. Webb dishes out a good talking to, along the lines of "If you're going to do it, at least stick your neck out".
Alonso turns neatly away from two Dutch defenders, and feeds Iniesta, who dances into the penalty area but dallies before shooting and runs onto a tackle from Sneijder. Spain could do with something else here. Torres?
Yellow Card - Robben
Casillas has just made the save of his life. Robben steamed down the centre of the pitch, waiting, like the rest of us, for a foul from Puyol that never really came. Instead, he waits until he's in the area to fall over Casillas, who hoovers up the ball. Ref books him for diving, hell appears to break loose in Robben's head.
Out: Alonso , In: Cesc Fabregas
Xabi Alonso departs to make way for Cesc Fabregas.
Spain are dominating possession again, but there is so little time left. One more chance? Ooh, might be the Dutch! Nope. Not that either -- Robben broke at helterskelter pace, but Puyol tracks back to halt him.
Three minutes added on, and it's all Spain at the moment. Gulp.
The Dutch look very tired, but since Spain have the ball, they also look like they'd take extra-time now. Almost everyone back defending.
Sneijder's take on the late counter-attack reads thus: get over halfway line and shoot. Casillas watches it wide, and we're now into extra-time.
Xavi and Villa get us off to another 30 minutes of this.
Spain are appealing for penalty, Fabregas for a foul on him, which probably wasn't, Xavi for having his foot taken while he was shooting, which could have been but would've been harsh -- he scuffs the ground more than anything.
"I thought wrapping your arm around someone's waist and trying to pull them down was a foul," says Matt Langner, regarding Puyol's attempt on Robben. "Instead of immediately falling down and crying like any Spanish player, Robben kept his feet. Who gets punished? Robben of course." What tosh. Robben stayed on his feet because he wasn't yet in the area. The moment he did get in, he tried to stick his leg into Casillas and win a penalty. That's why he was booked.
Iniesta is distinctly lacking in killer instinct in front of goal this evening, dwelling on the ball for so long that he is dispossessed before he can shoot or pass to Villa. Van der Vaart has come on for de Jong, which is a promising move from van Marwijk.
I think Navas's shot must've gone through the net and out the other side! It looked for all the world to be going in but is deflected by van Bronckhorst into the side netting. Spain have now had 15 shots at goal!
Fabregas runs straight at goal down the middle of the pitch, keeping the ball away from several defenders before getting a shot off, but it skims across the turf and a yard or so wide.
Out: Van Bronckhorst , In: Edson Braafeid
Out: Villa , In: Fernando Torres
Second half of extra time.
Villa is replaced by Fernando Torres. Now only Sneijder can take the Golden Boot off Thomas Mueller, I think.
Elia got everyone's heart rate up having swerved past Ramos, but he can't keep the ball from straying over the goalline for a Casillas kick.
Red Card - Heitinga
Heitinga gets his marching orders for a second yellow card after tugging Iniesta's shoulder as he turned smartly onto an up and over ball from Xavi just outside the area. Drama here ...
Xavi puts the free-kick straight over the bar, Stekelenburg doesn't even pretend to look worried about it.
Xavi puts another free-kick into the area, but Stekelenburg's fist gets to it before Ramos's hair. Navas tries to smash the rebound goalwards from distance, but it's a wild lash.
Arjen Robben is incredibly lucky not to get a second yellow for kicking the ball away. If this goes to penalties, Holland will feel very lucky to have him on the pitch. Unless he skies it, of course.
"Please, not another final decided on penalties," cries Brian O'Connor, and the rest of us. "Wimbledon doesn't allow tie breakers in the 5th set. Why can't the World Cup final go until a golden goal?" We'd be here all night. Sneijder's freekick came off at least two Spain players and the ref gives a goalkick!
Goal - Iniesta
Iniesta has lashed in for Spain to leave Stekelenburg on his backside.
Mathijsen has been booked for stopping just short of physically assualting the referee and his linesman. Fabregas fed the ball from the D to Iniesta on the right with a beautifully weighted ball, with Iniesta lurking in plenty of space onside. He planted it bang in the far bottom corner. Booked for taking his shirt off, but I don't think he'll mind that.
Two minutes more for Robben to try frantically to avert a lifetime of night terrors.
Yellow Card - Xavi
Displaying fine English consistency, Webb books Xavi for kicking the ball away having let Robben off the hook.
Chasing a long ball, Torres has pulled up and dropped to the floor. The Dutch play on, but it looks like Torres could well miss the beginning of next season.
The final whistle has blown and Spain have won the World Cup for the first time!
The Dutch look very sorry for themselves, and Sneijder is raging at an official for some slight no one else is quite sure about. But only one team has really played soccer tonight; Spain were certainly shaken from their usual cool, but the Netherlands' dirty play failed to do no more. Van Bommel and de Jong were both lucky to make it to half time. Spain came into this as favorite and no one can really say they don't deserve this; Germany might have been more electric, but even they looked humbled to be on the pitch with Spain earlier this week.
It's not over yet folks, we're sticking around for the trophy presentation, if you can spare me your time for a while longer.
Waiting to go up to pick up the trophy, Spain have put on new shirts with a star above the badge. Good job they won, eh? Wasteful expenditure in these difficult times, etc and so on.
Howard Webb and his team do a spot of hand-shaking and pick up their medals to a chorus of whistles from the largely Dutch crowd.
Now the Dutch collect their medals, looking a broken bunch, to be honest. Van Bronckhorst sniffs deeply, wondering what if.
To shrieks, cheers and of course vuvuzelas, the Spanish team climbs the stairs. A few of them kiss the trophy with great passion, then look up and see Sepp Blatter grinning at them. That'll kill their ardour.
Torres hopped skipped and jumped up the stairs, by all accounts, so Liverpool/Chelsea/Man City fans can breathe easy.
Casillas lifts the trophy in the air, there's ticker tape everywhere, and Spain dance about on the podium in tears.
"Campeones!" they sing, grabbing the trophy from one another every few seconds, trying not to look greedy about it. I love these moments. Juding by the look on his face, Sneijder... not so much.
Blatter just dived headlong into the crowd along the steps in rockstar fashion. The moment's gone to his head.
A Dutch guard of honor greets Spain back onto the pitch, some players doing it with more grace than others. Must be hard when all you want to do is climb into the bath and stay there for a few hours.
So, the time has come to bid this World Cup adieu. Thank you for all your emails, it has been an honor and a privilege to bring you the tournament.
The online journalist's Netherlands vs. Spain World Cup final checklist:
1) Have you mentioned that this match will add a new name to the list of World Cup winners?
Whatever the outcome of this final, history is going to be made, and the World Cup's trusty engraver will have to break in a new stencil.
2) Have you mentioned that the Netherlands failed to win the World Cup during the decade in which it had unarguably the greatest soccer team in the world? Bonus points for using the words "Cruyff" and "Total football." Guaranteed entry to journo heaven if you can crowbar in Arie Haan's semifinal goal versus Italy in 1978.
Holland is looking to make it third time lucky, with Johan Cruyff and co. having been denied by the host nation in two consecutive finals. No Total Football this time around, but the trophy would be nice, nonetheless. If short shorts and flat caps are your thing, check out these classy videos of the 1974 final versus West Germany, and the 1978 final against Argentina. And if you've got time, it could be worse spent than watching a humdinger of a strike from Arie Haan, the goal that got the Dutch to the 1978 final in the first place.
3) Have you mentioned that Spain has never reached a World Cup final before? Have you pointed out that there would be something historically resonant about the Dutch winning this match, not only avenging their 1970s defeats but also forcing another nation to endure being the best and still going home empty handed?
Erm, yeah. That.
Join me from 2 p.m. ET on Sunday for live instant analysis of the 2010 World Cup final between the Netherlands and Spain, right on this very page. And if you want to send me your thoughts on the match, the tournament or memories of previous finals, my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.