Playing stylishly might not be more important than winning. But teams that play stylishly make the game worth watching, and thus assume an importance that can’t be reflected by wins and losses. During the era of Cruyff and total football, the Dutch played as stylishly as anyone in the world. Over the last few seasons, that mantle belongs not to Holland but to Spain. Spain’s tiki-taka soccer—inexorable passing, patient build-up play, constant pressing on defense—isn’t much like total football, though it can also be traced back to Cruyff, who spent eight years as the manager of Barcelona. Nevertheless, Spain’s style is a similarly coherent, and similarly beautiful, approach to the game. And that’s why I hope Spain will win the World Cup on Sunday. It’s not because I don’t like Holland; it’s because I like the history of Holland so much.
– Brian Phillips, in Slate, on why we should all be rooting for Spain in today’s World Cup final. The essay examines the history and legacy of the Dutch’s total football style and their most famous player, Johan Cruyff. And that’s all well and good, but I’m still siding with the Oranje today.