This is part one of a three-part series leading up to Sunday’s World Cup Final.

If you’re like me, you are probably wondering which side to support in Sunday’s World Cup Final.  USA is long gone, as are most of our families’ homelands.  There is no Cinderella and Ghana, the last African hope, lost in the quarterfinals in the most devastating way possible.  After one month and 63 matches we are left with Spain and the Netherlands, FIFA’s second and fourth ranked nations, respectively.

What both sides have going for them:

Neither has won a World Cup before. This marks the first time since 1934 that both finalists are making their Final debut.

This will mark the first time a European nation will win the World Cup away from Europe. All nine of Europe’s previous championships have been won on the continent.

Both play offensive-minded, attacking football. Some teams, like Greece and Paraguay are just boring to watch.  They pack men behind the ball… and offensive runs are few and far between.  Luckily this isn’t the case for either side in the Final.  Expect chances to come early and often for both teams in what should be an exciting match.

Both have a player in contention for the Golden Boot. Spanish striker David Villa and Dutch midfielder Wesley Sneijder sit atop the goals scored leaderboard with five apiece.

Both are highly developed, stable EU nations. No tyrannical dictators or major human rights violations to report in either country.

The all-time series between the two is split. Spain and the Netherlands have played nine previous times.  Each was victorious four times with one draw.

What the sides have going against them:

Spanish fans are racist. This is made apparent in a 2008 article by David Hills of the UK Observer:

La Liga’s top laid-back moments from the past few years: Real Madrid fined £6,000 for Nazi banners; Getafe and Atlético fined £435 each for monkey chants; Deportivo, Albacete and Malaga fined £411 for ‘sustained racist abuse’; Getafe fined for physical assault on ‘black shit’ Paulo Wanchope; La Liga react to criticism from the Coalition Against Racism by canceling their grants; Samuel Eto’o says: ‘If a black referee came to Spain they’d kill him’; Getafe launch PR plan to ‘prove we’re no racists’ by blacking up their players’ faces with boot polish for a photo shoot; and La Liga boss Angel María Villar calls Luis Aragonés’ attack on ‘black shit’ Thierry Henry ‘humor’.

The Dutch don’t know what they want to be called. The nation’s official name is Kingdom of the Netherlands and seems split on being called the Netherlands and Holland.  Technically speaking, Holland refers to the western portion of the country comprised of the provinces of North Holland and South Holland, the two most populated provinces that contain the three largest cities.  Some Dutch complain when foreigners use Holland to refer to the entire country, yet others use the term in the same manner.  The government isn’t helping the situation either.  It runs Holland.com as the official travel site for the entire nation. So which one is it Dutch? I’m tired of these mixed signals.

Read Part 2: Why you should support Spain
Read Part 3: Why you should support the Netherlands

Tyler