World Cup Final: A Fight Instead of a Football Match
I'm writing this as a dejected, angry fan of football.
The game was supposed to be the showpiece game of them all. A game we were meant to be talking about for years to come. A game between two European superpowers that had played brilliantly (at times) to get to the World Cup Final, and a game that wouldn't—unlike so many World Cup Finals before—let us down.
Instead, a fight broke out when a game was taking place.
The Netherlands, who had played so brilliantly in beating Brazil and Uruguay, decided that to counteract Spain's beautiful football, they would simply foul anything in a blue shirt. And foul they did.
Nigel De Jong was lucky to be on the pitch in the first half after doing his best impression of "De Karate Kid," while Mark Van Bommel was equally awful, fouling and abusing referee Howard Webb with every instinct.
Howard Webb did almost everything right—except award a corner to the Dutch in extra-time instead of a goal kick when a free-kick deflected off the blue wall. But he didn't.
Arjen Robben had a chance to win it for Holland, steaming through the Spanish defence, but Iker Casillas's leg stopped the ball from going in the net. Quite frankly, we'd have expected Robben to have lifted it over Casillas, but he'll consider himself unlucky. Or was it bad finishing? Or in the end, does it really matter?
Elijero Eliah broke up the wing and fell in front of a Spanish player. Webb waved on. Spain broke. Around 30 seconds later, Andres Iniesta crashed the ball into the net. The Dutch were furious. Spain had won it all.
And what about Spain, World Champions for the first time in their history?
Well, they weren't exactly victims in the foul-a-thon, either.
Defender and Brian May lookalike Carles Puyol dived in for a challenge to get himself booked, and then fouled Robben, which—had the Dutch version of "Mini-Me" done something as truly evil and cynical as his orange-clad teammates had all game and actually gone down—would probably have earned the Barcelona captain a deserved red card.
He didn't, and Spanish pride survived.
Cesc Fabregas, in the end, was the best of a bad bunch for his wonderful cameo for Spain. He looked absolutely fantastic—and you wonder: could Spain have scored more than their total of eight (for the whole of the campaign) if he were playing full-time? He was a revelation, and his setting up of Iniesta's goal was wonderful—even if some of his shooting wasn't!
But in the end, it was beautiful football (well, at least the bits we could see amongst the haze of yellow cards, fouls, moaning at the referee, and generally bad sportsmanship) that won the game.
We don't want to applaud Spain too much for their World Cup victory, but after their cynical and horrible performance—and frankly, we'd like to blame manager Bert Van Marwijk for his deplorable tactics—Holland didn't deserve it either.
We can only hope for better in Brazil in 2014.
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