DELIGHT AND DESPAIR AS FANS WATCH WORLD CUP FINAL AT HOME
As the Netherlands and Spain clashed in the final for the ultimate World Cup glory, football fans in the respective capital cities celebrated in their own unique way, writes Christian Fraser in Amsterdam and Sarah Rainsford in Madrid.
In Amsterdam, the flashpoint for World Cup enthusiasm was Museum Square, where one of the biggest screens in Europe was erected for the fans.
In Madrid, an estimated 300,000 people formed a sea of red and yellow as they surged along Paseo de Recoletos boulevard to watch the final on giant screens.
The celebrations at the final whistle were easily the biggest ever held in living memory in Spain. ATMOSPHERE
They were living the tangerine dream in Amsterdam.
The city was dressed for a party – in flags, hats, shirts – and armed of course with the indispensable vuvuzela.
Dutch fans packed into a square behind the Rijksmuseum for the game
Only one team remains undefeated in this World Cup and the Dutch fans were praying that their winning streak could carry them through to the ultimate prize.
“We are the bridesmaids never the bride,” says Jon Bosman, a member of the Dutch squad that won the '88 European Championship – their last major success.
Football fever has swept the country: more than 12 million people watched their semi final with Uruguay – this in a country with a population of just 16 million.
Before the kick-off , they are in confident mood. Flags prematurely declaring the Netherlands as World Champions 2010, were selling like hot clogs.
The crowd started gathering in front of the giant screens on Castellana at least eight hours before kick-off; it was baking hot, close to 40C, but only a few sensible souls huddled in the shade.
Fans thronged Madrid's squares
Even before the match started this was a historic moment for Spain.
The national side had never made it to a World Cup final before, so tens of thousands of Spaniards wanted to be here to savour the moment.
The broad, tree-lined avenue was packed full of fans stretching far into the distance. Urged on by a compere on stage, they sang and danced all afternoon up to kick-off. TYPICAL FAN
Dressed in orange, head to toe, Dutch fan Chucks Okafur reflected the expectations of a nation.
“I am a bit nervous,” he says. “But confident.”
“The Spanish are good, but the Dutch really have a team and finally we have a coach, a really good coach, who understands the players. They have bonded really well.
Orange was everywhere in Amsterdam – and not only on the Dutch
“Better than the English!” he laughs.
It is not just the Dutch wearing the orange shirts. This is the city of the stag parties. And fans from all over Europe – with the exception of the Spaniards – are snapping up the orange shirts.
“We are on a stag party here in Holland,” said Neil from Liverpool. “This weekend we are one of them. I am an Everton fan at home so I am rooting for Johnny Heitinga. I want to see him lift the trophy.”
“This was such a nervous match,” said Javier Briales, 25, a student. “We'd never played extra time before, so I was really worried we would lose.
Javier Briales: Spain played perfect football
“Then Iniesta scored, and it was like nothing on this earth. I was jumping and screaming and hugging all my friends. This is the best day in my life, like nothing I have ever felt before.
“The Dutch played a really hard game, very aggressive. It was the only way they could hope to beat us. But it didn't work. I think Spain just played perfect football.
“Everyone will be out on the streets celebrating all night, but I have an exam tomorrow at 0800. It's terrible. I think they will still be partying when I get there.” KEY LOOK
There's a booming business in milkmaid outfits.
It was orange all the way in Amsterdam
In Rembrandt Square, they have some medieval stocks painted in the colours of the Spanish flag. One unfortunate looking figure, dressed as a Dutch cow, has just been plastered with eggs.
Elsewhere in the city it was orange all the way. The streets were decked out in orange bunting.
If you were not wearing orange in Amsterdam on Sunday, you were the odd one out. And, yes, they were selling vuvuzelas – orange vuvuzelas.
Madrid: Red and yellow was much in evidence
The colours of the Spanish flag featured prominently of course; faces were painted red and yellow, there were plenty of silly hats and wigs to match.
I saw several men in full matador outfits; some had managed to find octopus hats, in honour of psychic Paul, who predicted Spain's victory and made himself a national hero.
As the day wore one, and the sun beat down, more and more clothes came off – and by the time Spain scored, there were thousands of sweaty men clad in little more than the national flag. DRAMATIC MOMENT
Amsterdam: Arjen Robben almost put one away
The Dutch fans will point to the goal and the decisive sending off.
But surely the most dramatic moment of this game from Holland's point of view was Arjen Robben's one-on-one with the Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas three-quarters of the way through the game.
It should have been all over, but instead the shot was deflected agonisingly wide. How they will rue that miss!
Madrid: Andres Iniesta gave the Spanish what they wanted
There were a few in the first half, like that grim, full-foot flying tackle on Xabi Alonso. That was when the crowd roared in fury, and chanted some very choice words at the British referee for failing to send off the Dutchman.
There were some worrying moments for the fans, when they started to keel over in the intense heat.
But for the football, the highlight has to be the only goal of the match – by Andres Iniesta. The crowd, so tense and so nervous for so long, exploded; tens of thousands of Spaniards in Madrid jumped and yelled for joy.
Bright red flares erupted in the crowd. There were fireworks somewhere in the distance and the whole crowd went crazy. Their dream had just become reality. FINAL WHISTLE
It's always painful losing at the World Cup, but to lose in the final and in extra time is agony.
Museum Square was a sad place to be tonight – they stood in silence, as the Spaniards rejoiced and pictures were beamed in to Amsterdam from Madrid.
Third time unlucky for the Dutch
And then the choker – the trophy that they've now been denied
The square has now been deserted, with orange streamers and beer cans left behind, detritus from a party which went horribly wrong.
But come the morning, the Dutch should congratulate themselves. This is a team which overcame the odds to beat Brazil and reach the final.
it may not have been “total football”, at times it was more pragmatic than electric, but they performed where other Dutch teams have imploded.
So on Monday they return to Amsterdam as heroes – albeit without the trophy.
Very few people will be sleeping quietly in Madrid tonight; this city has just begun the party of a lifetime.
No time for sleeping in Madrid after the Spanish victory
There are jubilant fans dancing on dustbins; they're hanging off lamp-posts. They are parading up and down Alcala and Gran Via with their flags held high, singing, hooting their horns and banging bass drums.
There are groups singing odes to octopus Paul; and others chanting the name of Iniesta.
“No-one in Spain will go to work tomorrow,” one fan, Xema predicted. “This is such a big moment we need to celebrate all night long.”