Monday, July 12, 2010



As two hours of a physically as well as mentally exhausting game were coming to an end and the players were getting tired, it took one defensive error in the Dutch penalty area that was scooped up by Spain... and Iniesta, with the composure of a surgeon, turned that moment into one that will be etched in Spain's history and ensured that his name will be counted amongst the legends of Spanish football.

My heart goes out to the Dutch. Netherlands were by far the most enterprising team through the tournament... and had a 100% record right from the qualifying stages to the World Cup Finals. They just did not have the energy in the end to land their foot across the finish line.

The game itself, was a curious mix of unconverted opportunities and a lot of yellow cards (as well as a red at the end). The referee used his yellow card 14 times in 2 hours, once along with a red. Both the sides, surprisingly, were rather unconvincing in their opponent's penalty area. The referee too did not have an easy match... and at the end of it all, the Dutch fans let their frustration be known by booing the Englishman Howard Webb when he went on stage to collect his medallion.

Not only the Dutch crowd, but even the Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk and their midfielder Arjen Robben lashed out. Both were specifically upset that Webb has failed to book Carlos Puyol for the second time when he had his arm around Arjen Robben as he looked to get one-on-one with the Spanish keeper Iker Casillas. Van Marwijk was simple in his assessment: "I don't think the referee controlled the match well." And Robben was not too discreet when he said: "When you play in a World Cup final, you also need a world-class referee."

But, there was no doubt at the end (the Dutch coach agreed as much) that the better and the more deserving team was crowned the World Champion. The top goal-scorer David Villa, the finals goal-scorer and man-of-the-match Andres Iniesta and the ever-reliable workhorse Xavi set the foundation on which Spain built its success. Carlos Puyol, Gerard Pique and Iker Casillas were fantastic at the back. And Sergio Ramos was brilliant at the back as well as wide on the right while attacking.

This year is turning out to be even more beautiful than 2008 for the Spanish sports fans. In 2008, Rafael Nadal won the French Open, the Wimbledon and the gold in Beijing Olympics, Spain were ranked 14th in that Olympics with 5 Golds, 10 Silver and 3 Bronze, they won the Davis Cup and of course, the football team won the European Championships... their first major international football title.

In 2010, Nadal has managed to duplicate his 2008 feat (minus the Olympic medal, of course) and Spain has already been crowned the Champions of the World in football... a glory that they have never seen before.

The World Cup has drawn to a close now... and South Africa must be congratulated on hosting a brilliant event. Just 12 months backs, there were fears that it might not be a success, there were security issues just a few months back and there must have been myriad other obstacles, but just as the Rainbow Nation's history suggests, they overcame everything. CONGRATULATIONS TO SPAIN AND CONGRATULATIONS TO SOUTH AFRICA!


Barry said...

If Dutch were perhaps a bit more attacking they could have won the final. Leaving Robben I can hardly remember anyone troubling Spain's defence.

Unknown said...

I agree GB! The only saves that I remember Casillas making were from Robben's left foot. But both the teams had prepared well.

Spain controlled Sneijder very well... and Netherlands did not let Xavi express himself.

sunny said...

Just when I thought the game would be going down to penalties, Spain scored! I'm not a football expert, but it looked as if the Dutch were trying to play a more defensive rather than attacking game. Felt bad for them though.