By Talha Zaheer

Paul the octopus chooses a mussel from a box marked with Spain's flag. - AP Photo

Despite a plethora of death threats beginning with the Argentines and then the Germans looking to feast on poor Paul, the psychic octopus has predicted that Spain will lift the Jules Rimet Trophy. Apparently the world’s pundits are taking a hiatus as Paul helps them do their job. As for those looking to turn him from soothsayer to calamari – they believe he is responsible for their teams’ demise since he has some sort of supernatural ability that makes his predictions come true. While Paul enjoys a 100 per cent record in predictions involving Germany for this World Cup, I’m not convinced. Paul’s only blemish so far has been the Euro 2008 final for which he picked Germany yet Spain emerged triumphant. As far as I’m concerned, his odds for predicting the final are 0 to 1. Therefore I shall stick with the Netherlands to take the cup. I’m no psychic octopus, but my pre-tournament prediction was a Spain-Netherlands final. Besides, Paul is a German octopus and couldn’t possibly side with the Dutch.

As if that weren’t enough, Dutch legend Johann Cruyff has also put his money on Spain – he claims they are a closer incarnation of the brand of Total Football that he enshrined both on the Dutch National side and at Barcelona FC. Seeing as the Catalan Club provides seven of Spain’s starting 11, it’s easy to understand how the Spanish have a tendency to overplay. With so many questions lingering over the makeup of the Spanish side: will Fernando Torres play? What about Cesc Fabregas? And with FIFA releasing their World Cup team that includes Wesley Sneijder and David Villa, and even Andres Iniesta asserting that Spain must stop Sneijder, it seems as if no one has noticed the man that will truly tip the scales in favour of one side or the other come Sunday evening.

I’m sure everyone’s favorite, Mark Van Bommel, would have enjoyed relative anonymity ahead of the biggest game of his career were it not for his father-in-law and Dutch head coach, Bert Van Marwijck. Daddy-in-law had to come out and assert that the father to his grandchildren was indeed not a cheat. Truth be told, given the level of technique and comfort the Spanish midfield exude, it will take a resolute display from the returning Nigel De Jong and Van Bommel to disrupt play and give the Dutch chances on the counter attack. An early yellow card to the Bayern Munich stalwart could be catastrophic for the Oranje.

It’s also a proud moment for the world’s favorite bash-toys. Yes, I speak of none other than England who have finally made the World Cup final. I kid you not. No, you are not dreaming. England’s Howard Webb will be officiating what is set to be the last World Cup game without some sort of goal line assistance – whether via technology or extra linesmen. Given the amount of genius on display at FIFA, I’m sure they will opt for alien assistance to ensure partiality and once it becomes evident that no alien would be stupid enough to accept this job offer, they’ll encourage Paul the Psychic Octopus to decide these matters. That would make sense wouldn’t it? So there you have it – with all these legends having made their predictions, now it’s your turn. Can you answer the big question? We already know that Spain will hog the ball and try to pass it into the net. We also know that the Dutch will try to disrupt play and out pace Spain at the back. So the question is: Will Nelson Mandela grace the final with his presence or not? Got you, didn’t I?

My sentiments have always been with the men in Oranje and while I concede Spain is arguably stronger man for man, I just have a feeling that the Dutch unbeaten streak will continue, especially as Sneijder and Arjen Robben have something to prove to the Spaniards following their ignominious exits from Real Madrid last summer. Who is your pick for the World title?

Talha Zaheer writes about professional football for He has covered the 2009-10 MLS season and was lucky enough to cover Real Madrid on their North American tour of 2009. Zaheer likes to deliver fresh milk in his spare time.

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.