Amid all the playmakers, the creative geniuses, the goalscorers and - let's not forget - the hard men, there's one person who could have a strong influence on Sunday's game by sheer dint of his running. Dirk Kuyt isn't the connoisseur's idea of a star but his running and never-say-die spirit - allied to wingplay and passing - could be the difference between two evenly matched teams.
The Dutch have had more eye-catching performers in this tournament but it's Kuyt who best exemplifies the team's ethic. His praises, sung by a range of people including the coach Bert van Marwijk and Johan Cruyff, are only the final endorsement of the proof offered by the statistics. And on Sunday, when the game is likely to be squeezed tight in the middle, it will be Kuyt's tireless patrolling of the flanks - nominally the left but switching at will with Arjen Robben - that will give the Dutch the route to hit Spain, who avoid playing on the wings, at one of their few vulnerable points.
But Kuyt is much more than a winger. His one goal (against Denmark) tells part of the story; his three assists, the most by any Dutch player, tell a little more. Throw in the fact that he's effected more clearances than any other non-defender in the team, two of which were crucial interventions in the last, frenetic minutes of that semi-final against Uruguay. Add to that his fitness - his six games on the trot here follow a season where he's played 53 times for Liverpool in the physically demanding Premier League.
No wonder van Marwijk called him a "team player par excellence" after that Uruguay game, one in which his more acclaimed contribution was the ball in for Robben's goal. No wonder Cruyff said he was "worth his weight in gold", pointing to how he'd played in three different positions through the tournament. Cruyff should know - Kuyt's habit of slotting in as cover for a missing teammate comes close to fulfilling the principle of Total Football, where players would fill the spaces vacated by teammates either advancing or defending.
On Sunday his main job would be two-fold: frustrate the surging runs of Sergio Ramos, who will be Spain's outlet moving forward up the right flank, and working on the Dutch moves, feeding the balls in for Robin van Persie or, as he did in the semi-finals, Robben. His speed and ease in the role will be important given that Spain are likely to focus, as usual, on attacking through the centre of the pitch, where they will come up against the formidable wall of Mark van Bommel and Nigel de Jong.
Watching him in action is tough; he is not as naturally thrilling as Robben; he doesn't have Sneijder's ability to influence the game, nor van Persie's ability to turn it on its head in a flash with one swivel and turn. He doesn't even have van Bommel's headline-grabbing hard tackling. If he is playing on the far side you could probably miss him for an entire half; he runs the channels quietly, yet displaying that priceless penchant of being in the right place at the right time, whether popping up with a killer pass or with a crucial tackle.
Even his own fans - whether of Holland or Liverpool - tend to be dismissive. One English journalist, a Liverpool fan whom I will not name, said all he did for the club the whole season was run and run. They should consider themselves lucky that he has publicly said he wants to stay on at the Anfield club. Of course he's also said that his "insider" knowledge of the Spanish team could help the Dutch, but it's a bit of a dodgy claim because Fernando Torres may not play the final, Pepe Reina almost certainly won't and Xabi Alonso is no longer a clubmate.
Or maybe Kuyt really does know something more than we credit him for. On current form, and in his current role, one wouldn't bet against it.
Why the Dutch will win
Going out on a limb doesn't come naturally to me but, having backed the Netherlands before the World Cup began, I am obliged to do so again before a game that most have called in Spain's favour. This isn't, though, a perfunctory defence; I believe that Spain, for all their artistry and their brilliance on and with the ball, can be beaten - they have already lost one game in this World Cup - and a team on a ten-match winning streak, as the Dutch are, have the tools to extend it to 11 on the trot.
I'm no expert on tactics, nor had I seen much of this Dutch team before the tournament began, but I have seen them several times in the past month, and that's largely what I have based my thoughts on. Here are five reasons why I think the Netherlands can win on Sunday.
• Confidence and clarity. There is an air about this Dutch team that, while stopping short of hubris, suggests they are now about to let this one go. They haven't talked themselves up, nor have they played mind games with the Spanish side, but have stated fairly unambiguously what their intention is. They will play to win, and that attitude alone is a large part of the mental battle won. It could be ugly, it could be dirty, it could be what no one wants to see but it will be their plan if it gets them the World Cup.
• Hindsight. They will have seen the semi-final Germany game and learnt from the mistakes made by that young side. They have the confidence that the Germans seemed to lack; they will have learnt that it doesn't pay to stand back and allow Spain to dictate the play. And you can't beat Spain playing an attacking game. To quote Ottmar Hitzfeld, who coached the last team to beat Spain, "If you want to play an attacking game against Spain you will lose by a big margin." They have the time and they have the tacticians to work out the perfect gameplan.
• Speed. Spain's speed is in the mind, the quick thinking that allows them to see the next three moves before their opponents. Speed on the ground is not their strongest suit, whether in attack or while defending. The Dutch have two players who use speed in different ways. Robben's raids down the wing are Route A, difficult to deal with because of his speed and the length of his strides. Van Persie uses his speed in a shorter burst, to break away from his markers and get behind the defence. And neither Puyol nor Pique are exceptionally quick. The Dutch could repeat what they pulled off against Slovakia in the second round - a ball from Sneijder that went over the defence and chased down by Robben for the first goal.
• Recent experience. Sneijder is the form player and Sunday's will be his second major final. He scored several key goals for Inter on their march to Champions League success but, perhaps more significantly, he was the lynchpin of the team that dismantled Barcelona in the semi-finals, including a 3-1 win at the San Siro after going a goal behind. Inter's style is not dissimilar to how the Dutch currently play, though you would not expect van Marwijk to play two men up front, as Jose Mourinho did against the Catalans, and the Italian side won despite enjoying less than 40 per cent possession over the two legs. More recently, the Netherlands have twice dealt successfully with tricky situations and have not lost their head; against Brazil they won after being a goal down and almost played off the park, and against Uruguay they held their nerve in injury time after conceding that late goal to Maxi Pereira.
• Form. Yes, I know Spain have been in blistering form in the past two games and have peaked at the right time. But all that possession and all the pretty passing against an inexperienced Germany couldn't secure them a goal until Carles Puyol popped up for the header. David Villa has scored five of their seven goals; Fernando Torres has scored none. Only once, against Honduras, have they exceeded a 1-0 scoreline. So while they have been passing superbly, they've been living a bit on the edge as far as the wins are concerned. The Dutch have been less flamboyant and arguably less dominant in their games but their wins have been more emphatic. Their dozen goals are spread across six players and come from all situations - and none from penalties.
None of this could matter on Sunday; the Netherlands could freeze, as they did 36 years ago, or come under the Spanish spell, as did the Germans last week. Somehow, though, I don't think that will happen. The Dutch won't lose their touch.