Final Thoughts

Iain SwanContributor IIJuly 12, 2010
A poor World Cup final showcased a desperately poor tournament, but at the least  the result was correct.
The best team in the world won the cup, even though they only showed fleeting glimpses of their real quality, most notably in the second half of the semi final against Germany. 
Too many teams erred on the side of caution, preferring overly physical , sterile, defensive  performances to trying to win games and God forbid , entertain.
As the worst example of that side of football ,Holland, reached the final more teams will be encouraged to play that way.
 Thankfully, there were a few examples , Spain, Germany, Uruguay and most gloriously Argentina! but they were the exception rather than the rule.
 At last Spain  join football's aristocracy  by adding the World Cup to the European Championship  victory of 2008.
It is remarkable that one of the giants of European football has taken so long to dine at the top table, especially given the number of great club sides the country has produced . 
One of the theories for the repeated  failure of Spain  to make their mark at international level was that the ethnic tensions between the various groups  in the squad, Basques , Galicians  Andalucians, Catalans and Castillians prevented them from pulling together for the greater good of Spain.
 The biggest source of tension was said to be  between the players of Catalunya's Barcelona and Castille-Leon's Real Madrid, the two giants of Spanish football.
Although  Catalan's want autonomy from Madrid, their club has provided Spain with the backbone of the team that finally elevated La Furio Roja to the higher echelons of international football. Spain played the Barcelona way, despite fierce resistance from the Dutch and it eventually paid dividends, although it was the man from La Mancha (by way of the Barcelona youth team team) Andries Iniesta who sealed the victory and a man from old Castille, Iker Casillas who saved them time and again. This squad gelled as a team and it is that ethos that has brought them the success that had hitherto eluded the nation, along with  a belief in playing the game properly. 
But it was a close run thing. For now until the end of his days, during the long watches of the night, Arjen Robben will be tormented by what might have been. He had not one , but two clear cut chances to win it for the Dutch. 
But, not for the first time, Spain emerge from the new world with treasure and in doing so defied history: a European team has now won the cup outwith its own continent and a team losing it opening game has ultimately emerged victorious.
While Spain rejoices a thought should be spared for one Raul Gonzalez Blanco, their record goalscorer, former captain  and the man on whom ,at one one time, so much depended. He carried the hopes of a nation on his shoulders for so long and when those hopes were dashed , was branded the scapegoat, condemned for having too much influence and denigrated for being overrated, he is only the record goalscorer in the Champions League! How pleasing it was to  see Spain play good football and win, how sad it is to see him on the sidelines watching.
Bert van Marwijk what have you done? you created a monster. What made you trade your heroes for gold? your artists for artisans? You may recant your belief in total football , but total football is a chimera , the only time the Dutch played that way was when Cruijff was in the team, because it was a system designed specifically for him. That didn't stop the 1988 side winning  the European Championship playing delightful football in a 4-4-2 formation. You have sold your nation's football soul in a tawdry transaction for gold and thank God you failed 
So scarred have Holland been by their disappointments on the international stage, that they have completely lost faith in their ideas and traditions. It is a travesty, for the team they took to South Africa was good enough to win the competition playing the traditional Dutch way. Sneijder, Robben, van der Vaart, Elija and van Persie should have been allowed to play their natural game, instead he turned them into hard running defensive automatons and even "The Kray Twins" van Bommel and De Jong can play football when they are not trying to decapitate their opponents.
Holland set out to play the role of bull to Spain's matador in the final and gored some of the midfield toreros, knocking them off their stride, especially in the first half , but thankfully the footballing Gods saw fit to punish them even if the referee did not.