Tag Archives: World Cup final

Spain wins World Cup

11 Jul

It wasn’t pretty, but Spain finally became world champions, thanks to a late goal in extra time from Andres Iniesta.

Iniesta’s 116th minute goal snapped the 0-0 draw and gave Spain its first ever World Cup title.  Spain also becomes the third nation to hold the European and World Cup titles at the same time.

Five thoughts on Spain’s win:

1. That game was ugly.  Granted, it wasn’t nearly as boring as I thought it would be, but it was way too chippy and dirty.  The teams amassed 14 yellow cards, setting a new World Cup final record.  It wasn’t until extra time, but John Heitinga of Holland earned his second yellow and the Dutch were forced to finish the game with 10 men.  Referee Howard Webb lost control of the game early on and got really card happy.  (It’s not always a yellow card when a player hits the ground, Howard.)  The Dutch committed some atrocious fouls that they were lucky to get away with (karate kick to the chest, anyone?) and Spain did some atrocious diving.  Ugh, not a pretty game to end the World Cup. (The third place match was better.)

2. Spain shut down Wesley Sneijder and that made a huge difference.  The Dutch playmaker was quiet throughout today’s game and never really had a chance to exert his influence on the game.  Give credit to the Spanish midfield for that one.

3. Iker Casillas came up huge.  He got lucky on a couple saves, but they were the difference makers.  Arjen Robben had two breakaway chances, but Casillas was able to make the save on both of them.  If Robben had been able to finish either of those excellent chances, it would have broken the game wide open.  Casillas was great when he needed to be in this tournament and rightly earned the Golden Glove as the tournament’s best keeper.

4. It appeared that the Dutch decided that instead of trying to play their game to try and stop Spain, they would just get physical.  Well, they got way too physical.  I don’t understand why you wouldn’t at least TRY to play your own game.  The Dutch players lost their cool way too easily and looked stressed throughout the game, including screaming in the ref’s face.  For the most part, the Spanish players kept their heads and again, that made a huge difference in the game.

5. The Spanish super-subs were influential in the outcome.  The game opened up as soon as Cesc Fabregas came on the field.  Fernando Torres came on for David Villa in extra time and he was the one that started the move that led to Iniesta’s game winner (Fabregas had the assist).  Jesus Navas had a few dangerous plays as well.  It must be nice to have players like that to bring off the bench.

And a sixth thought…Paul the Octopus is a genius!  He got all eight games he predicted correct. 

Thus ends the 2010 World Cup.  It’s rather bittersweet and I don’t want to wait four more years for the next one.

What were your thoughts on the game?

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Spain-Netherlands prediction

10 Jul

The 65th and last game (sigh) of the 2010 World Cup will be played tomorrow between two first time finalists, Spain and Holland.

I have a sinking feeling that this game tomorrow could be an absolute snoozefest and I really, really hope that I am wrong on that count.  Don’t get me wrong, both teams are incredibly talented, but they don’t exactly play scintillating football.  However, it’s the last World Cup game for four years, so I plan on enjoying it to the fullest extent.

I’m pegging Spain to win their first ever title for five reasons.

1. If they continue to control the ball like they have throughout the tournament, it’s going to be difficult for the Dutch to get their offense going.

2. The Spanish midfield will be able to neutralize Wesley Sneijder’s influence on the game. (Again, ball control being key.)

3. Iker Casillas > Maarten Stekelenburg

4. Sergio Ramos and Joan Capdevilla push forward a lot.  Their contributions to the attack could prove decisive.

5. Players like Fernando Torres and Cesc Fabregas can come OFF THE BENCH. Talk about stacked.

Final prediction: Spain 2, Netherlands 1

P.S. Sorry for the short post, but I’ve been up since 4:30 a.m. and am absolutely exhausted.

Three reasons Netherlands will win

9 Jul

I posted about Spain earlier and now it’s the Netherlands turn.  The Dutch are the only team to win all their games in the World Cup thus far.  Here’s three reasons the Netherlands will hoist the trophy Sunday.  I’ll be making my prediction Saturday.

1. Resilience. The Dutch have shown that they have the ability to play any type of football necessary.  They’ve shown that they can maintain a lead, they’ve shown that they can come back from a goal down (notably against Brazil).  That “upset” win over Brazil gave the team loads of confidence and truly showed that they could compete with any team out there.  In the semifinal against Uruguay, they gave up a goal right before halftime and that could have been disheartening, but they came out in the second half and scored two quick goals.  They won’t be intimidated if Spain does snatch a nearly lead because they have the faith in themselves to get back in the game.

2. Wesley Sneijder. Sneijder is to the Netherlands what Xavi is to Spain.  Sneijder’s play is one of the main reasons the Netherlands are in this position and why he’s been nominated for the Golden Ball.  Not only has he scored five goals (tied for tournament lead), but he’s been instrumental in getting other players involved in the attack as well.  The team has scored 12 goals, one behind World Cup leader Germany.  He won the Champions League with Inter Milan earlier this year and once again he will be going up against many of the same Barcelona players he helped defeat in the semifinal.  His familiarity with how they play will only be a benefit.

3. History.  The Dutch have made the World Cup final twice (1974 and 1978), but lost both times.  They will be aching to avoid another letdown on the world’s biggest stage.  They’ll be wanting to shred the moniker of best team  to never win the trophy. As long as the team doesn’t let the pressure of the event get to them (too much anyways), they will be in a prime position to raise the trophy.

And lo and behold, another psychic animal picked the Dutch to win Sunday. Mani the Parakeet chose the Oranje over la Furia Roja.  So, who is the most psychic animal of them all?  Guess that question will be answered Sunday too.

Three reasons Spain will win

9 Jul

Spain and the Netherlands play Sunday in the World Cup final.  One of the two will be lucky enough to become the eighth country ever to hoist the trophy.  Here’s three reasons Spain will win.  (Netherlands post coming later.)

1. Possession.  No team in the tournament can play the possession game like Spain.  They’ve won the possession battle in all six games they’ve played so far, averaging 58.5%, which is rather awesome.  Because of the fact that they pass so well (81% pass completion rate in the tournament), they force teams to play Spain’s way.  That’s what happened with Germany; Spain played such a controlled passing game that Germany never had a chance to launch counterattacks.  If they can do the same thing to the Dutch and make them play Spain’s brand of football, it bodes well for the European champions.

2. Xavi. This man has been spectacular for Spain and a huge reason why they are in the final at all.  He is one of Spain’s three nominees for the Golden Ball.  Xavi is the lynchpin of the Spanish midfield and much of the organized, calm play runs through him.  He has completed the most passes of any player in South Africa and how he plays on Sunday will be a huge factor in the outcome.  The team’s midfield as a whole has been excellent and Xavi, along with Xabi Alonso and Sergio Busquets lead the passing charts (Spain holds six of the top ten spots. Check it out for yourself.).  Coincidence?  I think not.

3. Defense. Spain has only given up two goals in the tournament thus far.  One in the opening loss to Switzerland and one in a 2-1 win over Chile in the final group game.  Goalie Iker Casillas and the defense have posted four shutouts, including three straight.  Casillas has come up big several times, including a penalty save against Paraguay and a breakaway save against Germany.  As a whole, the defense plays smart and doesn’t commit a lot of stupid fouls.  Of course, it also helps that Spain’s defenders are also talented at going forward too.  After all, it was a defender that got them into the final.

Oh, and let’s not forget that Paul the Psychic Octopus picked them to win the final.  Paul was six for six on picking Germany’s results, so clearly he’s right.

Spain defeats Germany to make first ever final

7 Jul

Well, Paul the Octopus was right once again, correctly predicting a Spain win over Germany.  Carlos Puyol scored the lone goal of the game on a header off a corner kick in the 73rd minute.

Five thoughts on Spain’s win:

  • Spain controlled the game and played their way.  They never allowed Germany to get comfortable and kept them from executing their dangerous counterattacks.  Spain is not playing pretty soccer, but they are playing effective soccer.
  • Spain’s win guarantees that we will get a new World Cup champion, which is an exciting thought.  Now one can just hope that we actually get an exciting final.
  • Germany missed Thomas Muller.  He was out on suspension and Germany did not have a dangerous replacement.  Piotr Trochowski started in his place and never really made an impression.
  • The Spanish midfielders had an excellent game.  Not only did they shut down Bastian Schweinsteiger, who had been having a stellar tournament, but they also kept Germany from utilizing the space in the midfield like they had so effectively earlier in the tournament.
  • Spain dominated from early in the game and you could tell it was only a matter of time before they found the back of the net.  In fact, they probably could have scored a couple more times.  Once again, patience was key for the European champions.