So, it was Spain that won it in the end. Here’s the final thoughts.
- Germany vs. Uruguay – This was a fun match to watch and you wish more matches were like this. Lots of goals, nice free-flowing football, and a treat for the fans. Germany were deserved winners in spite of playing more young players — where do they come from?
Spain vs. Holland
- I wrote in my preview that a Dutch goal in the first half would’ve been good for the game. Alas that didn’t happen. So, we were treated to a fairly uneventful game even if there were a few chances at both ends. The Dutch, for all their pre-match talk, didn’t attack the Spanish and we saw a game with loads of fouls and in general, not free-flowing football. Nobody would begrudge Spain being the winners but it wasn’t a World Cup final that was I’ll remember fondly.
- I also wrote about how the Dutch needed to play one great game but they didn’t. In fact, though I supported the Dutch I think they have been an underwhelming team throughout this tournament. Not like the Dutch teams of the past who at least were fun to watch – this team ground out results and never really took off, so they can’t have many complaints.
- Robben will be kicking himself for missing two golden opportunities — a one on one with the goalkeeper which the latter saved and then a through ball where he should’ve gone down under an arm tackle but stayed up (probably the only time all match).
- As an Arsenal fan, I know the kind of link up play that Robin Van Persie is capable of but this Dutch team did not use him in that way at all. In fact, the service to him wasn’t good and he rarely got into the game. The 4-2-3-1 formation with RvP up top didn’t work well for me. Also, I think the presence of Sneijder who likes to shoot hampered the service to RvP. A shame really, when you consider how well he’s done for Arsenal (when he wasn’t injured). It was sad to watch RvP in the end knowing that he was so close.
- Spain might’ve complained about Holland’s strong arm tactics but they were no angels. Their players seemed to go down at the slightest of touches at some points — “light on their feet” as they say. They crowded the ref asking for cards when fouls were given. They were also adept at breaking up the rare counter attacks with fouls when needed.
- Spain’s passing game didn’t bring the kind of goals that you’d expect and while experts were falling over themselves comparing them to Barcelona, I think the latter team’s football — as much as I dislike the people who run the club — is much more attractive to watch and produces more goals. Spain won all its elimination matches 1-0. Not exactly setting the world alight with goals. They had lots of possession and the passing was neat but rarely the kind of incisive stuff that you see from Barca.
- One thing that you have to give Spain credit for is the work they put in when they don’t have the ball. It’s amazing how quickly they close people down and make it difficult for teams and disrupt their rhythm. Doing that requires a lot of discipline and a great deal of stamina and it’s something that they never stopped doing.
- Arsenal’s captain Cesc Fabregas came on late in the 2nd half and could’ve won it for Spain. He did make a big difference though and provided the assist for Iniesta’s game-winning goal. I had mixed feelings watching him celebrate–on the one hand I did feel happy for him but watching him celebrate with Barcelona players who’ve been trying to pry him away from Arsenal was hard to watch. Still, Cesc is a brilliant player who deserves a World Cup medal. Whether he will remain an Arsenal player and lead them to trophies is another matter.
- Did I mention that I think some of the people running Barcelona are scum? Yes, I know I’m being petty.
- The Awards – I was happy to read today that Diego Forlan won the Golden Ball for being the best player in the tournament. He was a deserving winner and he was the one player who made a huge difference to his team. I don’t think Uruguay would’ve reached the semi-finals without him. Great to also see Thomas Mueller win the Golden Boot for the most number of goals and the best young player (or emerging player whatever it’s called). Another fantastic player and hopefully we’ll see a lot more of him in the future. His interplay with teammates, runs without the ball and wonderful finishes were great to watch.
- Team of the tournament – The team that I enjoyed watching the most was Germany. They played with such enthusiasm to attack, their counter-attacks were dazzling, and they gave us some memorable moments to remember. Funny how this isn’t the team that won the tournament but there you go.
Till the next big tournament. Adios amigos.