world cup 2010 – final: viva espana!



200px-Flag_of_Spain.svgAfter a month of intense football, World Cup 2010 finally reached its pinnacle in South Africa. With South Africa 2010 has already been regarded as a success, it would also be a stage where a new team would become the 8th team to ever lay their hands on football’s holy grail. Spain had always faltered when it mattered most in the biggest stage, while the Netherlands were the losing finalists in ‘74 and ‘78. This would also be the first time a European team wins the World Cup in another continent.

In a final where both teams were chasing their sole world title, perennial under-achievers Spain finally celebrated their first by beating the Netherlands by a solitary Andres Iniesta’s strike in the Soccer City Stadium, Johannesburg last night. In a match which typified a final where nobody were going to commit to their cause (remember USA ‘94?), it was an anti-climax for a tournament which never failed to thrill fans. Instead of the fluid attacking mindsets that we expect from the La Furia Roja and the Oranje, famous for their Total Football approach, the fans (us!) were instead served with a scrappy, foul-littered match worth played in my school backyard! Tongue

Mark-van-Bommel-006 The match will be best remembered for the number of fouls which went into the book of the referee, Howard Webb. 14 yellow cards were shown, 9 to the Dutch, 5 to Spain. Chances were few and far between the teams. The Dutch were so determined to stop the Spaniards from playing their brand of football, by applying brute force method across the field. One obvious example was when Xabi Alonso felt the full force of Nigel De Jong’s studs, courtesy of the latter’s x-rated flying kick. Only the recent movie Karate Kid provided better martial arts lesson than his. John Heitinga was sent-off in the 109th minute for a second yellow card.

iniesta_584 But when the chances did come, only the heroics of the goalkeepers kept their team in the game. Iker Casillas twice blocked from Arjen Robben, while at the other end, Maarten Stekelenberg proved equal when he saved from David Villa. The score remained goalless after 90 minutes, and the extra-time looked like it could end the same, but 4 minutes before the dreaded penalty shoot-out, Iniesta provided his magic, collecting a Cesc Fabregas pass, before shooting across Stekelenberg’s goal, sending Spain into the footballing heavens Applause, and the Netherlands into the footballing mire, losing the finals for the third time.

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