World Cup Final Review: Football 1 – Thuggery 0

Posted on July 22, 2010 by

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So Spain carry on their consistent domination of World football, while Holland stumble back home wondering if they could do it all again, what would they do differently.

Play football perhaps? I wonder if Sneijders tears after the game where for the lost opportunity to win the greatest sporting event in the world, or because deep down he had a moment of clarity when he was standing beside Van Bommel & De Jong and quickly realised, he was one of the bad guys.
The best team won the game, im not quite sure if i’m comfortable saying the best team won the tournament because I found it hard to look past Brazil’s spectacular balance of stubborn defending and pacey counter attacking over Spains conservative, technical football , but the best team won the game.
Spain came out and dominated from the beginning, they finished the match on just under 63% of the possession and with Wesley Sneijder only managing to complete 21 forward passes compared to Xavi’s 57 & Iniesta’s 35. It was clear to see that Spain had managed to find their comfort in midfield. They did what they always do, flaunting the ball in front of the opposition, teasing them with their ability to make every pass perfect and at the same time, and as usual, show no necessity to bombard forward and cheaply. It frustrated a Holland side that thrived off the mistakes of the opposition. It became apparent to the Dutch that the game plan of ”wait for mistake>give it to Sneijder>Sneijder pass it to Robben> Robben score” wasn’t going to work, and that’s when it began to fall apart.
Mark Van Bommel who seemed at utter peace with making enemies, played his usual game of dirty defensive mid/average passer of the ball and Nigel De Jong took up old habits unacceptably later in the first half but escaped with a yellow card after landing his studs in the chest of Xabi Alonso. Proving that the Dutch where here for one thing and that was to sit in deep, and try to chop down Spain’s fluent midfield.
The second half was no better, and with Villa struggling to make any impact, the game turned into a Spanish midfield passing the ball around with nowhere to go, and a violent and angry Dutch Defensive formation trying to chase them down. As the game got on, holes began to show. Uncharacteristically, the Spanish paring of Pique and Puyol got caught out twice from the pace of Robben taking a more direct root at goal, via Sneijder passes showing glimpses of his claim to player of the tournament. Only for Casillas to redeem himself from previous games and responded perfectly to put Robben off scoring a late winner.
Other chances where few and far between, with Fabregas also struggling to finish of a spectacular pass from Iniesta and Sergio Ramos missing glorious chance after chance.Spain had moved into the ascendancy as the match wore on, with Xavi increasingly influential.Heitinger became the fifth man to be sent off in a World Cup final when he pulled back Iniesta on the edge of the area, giving Webb little choice but to hand him a second caution. which seemed to spur Spain on for a final effort, and on the 117min, Iniesta volleyed a pass from inside the box past Stekelenburg to final put an end to the struggle. Giving Spain their 5th 1-0 victory of the tournament.
Hollands reluctance to play football was sickeningly apparent, with only 3 of the starting eleven able to walk off the pitch without a cautioning.Van Bronckhorst, the captain, seemed to sum his team up when needing taken off in the fear that he’d get his marching orders.

Spain won the game playing football, not passionate exciting football, but football. I can applaud them for that atleast, and compared to
the Dutch approach, I felt the best way to summarize the game was simply with; Football 1, thuggery 0.


by Stefan Bienkowski.

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Posted in: Global