Even before the whistle blows, this much is known, the name of the country appearing on the 2010 world cup trophy will be a new one, and that country will be European.
Spain advanced after beating Germany 1-0 in what was perhaps a boring game with an exciting result. When I say boring, I am referring to the strategy of play by the German team. That being said, that style of play served them well until they met their match in Spain. The second team, Netherlands, beat Uruguay 3-2 and a very determined Diego Forlan to advance to the finals.
Having two new teams play in the finals shows how diverse the international talent is and that in any given year, any team has a chance to make it to the finals making the sport more appealing internationally. As cliched as that sounds, that is not always the case for other sports.
In women's international hockey, it is the same two or three countries making it to the finals. The same might be said for international baseball and basketball. As a consequence, the popularity of the sport is not as high due to the lack of suitable competition and the drama at times to be anti-climactic.
It is exciting to see the continued growth of soccer in North America and in some of the African teams. The United States performed well on the international stage this time around. While they still have a bit more building to do, they are making great strides and hopefully will continue to advance and grow their international game. Ghana, who went from not qualifying for the world cup from 1962 to 2002, qualified and made it to the round of 16 in 2006 to bettering that result with a quarter final appearance in 2010.
Some of the prima donna nations such as Italy, England, Brazil and France now need to look over their shoulder and realize that success is not as easily guaranteed. Perhaps their dismal result at this year's competition can allow for team reflection, renewed dedication, and respect to the sport. These teams cannot coast on traditional tactics and traditional theatrics any longer.
Hopefully, today's finals will be interesting, and well played. As for you readers, what teams surprised you this year? What teams do you think will be a force to be reckoned with in the next few years?