Congrats Spain for winning the World Cup for the first time!
Thank you for reminding us that the ingredients for a successful soccer team consists of excellent goalkeeping, teamwork in moving the ball, and solid defense. Thank you for reminding us that it doesn't matter how many goals a team scored in a previous game. More importantly, thank you for giving us a new World Cup Champion!
Prior to the World Cup, I picked Holland to beat Argentina. I believed Holland was the best team few talked about and that they had all the tools to win their first World Cup. As for Argentina, I believed that Maradona would lead his talented team far because the media would focus more on him and less on his team.
To be honest, I predicted Spain would not leave the first round. I was fully aware of the talent on their squad. Despite having Iniesta, Torres, Xavi, Casillas, Puyol, and Villa on their team, I didn't think they were capable of winning the World Cup.
I'm also aware that they won the 2008 Euro and still, I believed they would be eliminated early.
Why? Why? Why?
Historically, Spain has underachieved in the World Cup. With that track record, I expected them to choke again like the 1986 Boston Red Sox.
How sure was I that they wouldn't get past the first round? I had Honduras upsetting them 1-0 because I believed Switzerland would either pull an upset or tie Spain. As a result, the team wouldn't mentally recover and would play a poor game against Los Catrachos.
After their 1-0 loss to Switzerland, I wasn't surprised and was praying for Honduras to upset Spain. For the record, I'm half-Honduran so I went with my heart. Needless to say, David Villa's two goals were evidence enough that Spain had recovered nicely.
Even after that rebound, I expected Spain to lose against Chile. A 2-1 win proved me wrong and had them advancing to the Round of 16.
Ironically, in their match against Portugal, I wanted Spain to win because I felt Portugal was an overrated team because their superstar, Cristiano Ronaldo, tended to disappear in critical games. Spain won that match 1-0 thanks to David Villa's goal.
Despite that impressive win, I expected them to choke against Paraguay.
The match against Paraguay changed my opinion of Spain. Paraguay is a team that often gets overlooked by the rest of the world, but they play excellent defense and compete ably against Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay in the CONMEBOL Conference.
I believed that Paraguay's defense would neutralize Spain. In a game where both teams missed penalty kicks and played excellent defense, it appeared I was right until David Villa's game-winning goal ended Los Albirojas' fantastic run and propelled Spain to face counter-attacking juggernaut, Germany.
Facing a team that had outscored England and Argentina 8-1, I wasn't sure who would win this power struggle. And at this point, I still figured that the winner of this match would lose to Holland.
Puyol scored the game winner and the 21st century version of "Total Football" was going to face the country where it was originated from, Holland. The only things both teams had in common were that neither had ever won a World Cup and Johan Cruyff.
In a championship match where yellow cards were given like high school diplomas, Spain was clearly the better and more honorable team against my favorite pick, Holland. Like they've done all tournament, they scored late off Iniesta's game winner in the 115th minute. After that, Spain was declared new champions.
When it's said and done, I was wrong for doubting Spain.
Since life is about moving forward and not backwards, I'll be sure not to make the same mistake in 2014 in Brazil. Congrats Furia Roja, and thank you for making me a believer.