The FIFA World Cup. The Olympics of Soccer. The most anticipated sporting event around the world. It only comes once every four years, but when extended time ends Sunday night in Johannesburg, South Africa, the 2010 World Cup will have come to an end.
While this has been an amazing ride and past month, we still have a great game on our hands when the Spaniards take on the Dutch for the Title of World Champions. Both have taken very different routes towards the finals. The Dutch have won every game they have played. They swept their grouping, defeated a weaker nation in Slovakia, trounced a international powerhouse and #1 Ranked Brazil, and had the privelidge of knocking off the 'cinderellas' of the Cup Tournament in the Semifinals. Spain had a road with more humps in it in order to get to the Finals. They were shocked in their first game against Switzerland, but fought back, beating Honduras and Chile to win the group. The Spanairds then went on to beat country neighbor Portugal in the quarters, and Paraguay in the finals. Neither games were really impressive though, with the Spaniards winning them both 1-0. The toughest game of the tournament for Spain was in the semifinals against the fluent Germans. But, once again, the Spaniards fended off their opponents by winning by a goal.
Both countries have never won a World Cup. Though both have been historically known as two of the world's top nations. This match is going to be a dandy. Robin Van Persie, Dirk Kuyt, Wesley Sneidjer, and Arjen Robben will try to slice through Spain's tough defense, led by Sergio Ramos, Carles Puyol, Joan Capdevila, and the best goalkeeper in the World, Iker Casillas. "Defense wins championships" goes for Spain, but "Best defense is a good offense" goes for Holland. It should be a heck of a match.
Every Cup has its moments to remember and carry on to future generations. Yes, England, USA, and Portugal didn't make it out of the knockout stage, and international powerhouses (or so we thought) Italy and France didn't even make it out of their group. Heck, even South Africa, the host of the World Cup, didn't even make it out of their own group. But when one steps down, another steps forward. Uruguay, a team I had finishing last in Group A, ended up making it to the semifinals. Ghana, the "Black Stars" with their Flash-like uniforms were very fast and entertaining to watch going into the quarterfinals. Even Paraguay made it interesting against Spain. Sure, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, and Fernando Torres combined for one goal. Uruguay's Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez were arguably the best tandem in the Cup. David Villa scored all but two goals thus far in the Cup for Spain, and is in the front running for the Golden Boot. America's own Landon Donovan through his name into the international mix after he scored 3 goals for USA. This year's World Cup will go down as the year of the underdog.........and the Year of the terrible referees.
But regardless, and sad to say it, another World Cup is coming to an end this Sunday. But the good news is, it's not over yet. So go on Spain and Netherlands, make your mark on history. Send it into extra time and PK's. Make it dramatic. We don't care. The entire world has they're eyes on you. No pressure.