Monday, 12 July 2010

Viva Espana!

Last night the sun set (and other assorted clichés) on the 2010 World Cup that has emanated from the Rainbow nation of South Africa.

The final between Holland, sorry, The Netherlands & Spain was quite an apt end to the tournament really as the game itself encapsulated pretty much what this World Cup has been all about.

At times we saw brilliance and were thrilled, invigorated and excited, at times we were bored to tears, disappointed and under whelmed and at times we were confused, bemused and puzzled by some seriously strange goings on.

Some have already staked their claim that this is one of the worst World Cups of all time but I believe the complete opposite, for this is without a doubt the World Cup I have enjoyed the most in my lifetime.

I’m not quite sure what it is that has made me enjoy this year’s World Cup so much, I’d like to think it’s because I’m now more media savvy and appreciative of how huge events like this are but if we’re being honest, when have I ever been media savvy!? Just take a look at this blog…

Whatever the reason, I have thoroughly enjoyed the last month and actually feel quite sad that the World Cup is now over; but while the tournament itself may be over the legacy that the 2010 World Cup will leave behind will last well into the future.

So many stars have been born during the course of the tournament and their legends will last forever: the Vuvuzela, Paul the Octopus, James Corden…

…Of course I’m just kidding…

…James Corden is a cunt.

Last night’s game though was the game that each World Cup is always remembered most for and although the score line suggests it wasn’t the greatest, and in all honesty: it wasn’t, it was still one hell of a spectacle.

Holland who had been pretty impressive up until last night seemingly abandoned everything that had endeared them to people and decided to adopt the Chile tactic of just kicking Spain off the park.

The fact that 14 players were booked from both sides gives you an idea of how nasty last night’s game was but it was the Dutch that set that tone for the game with their chief thug Mark Van Bommel directing traffic.

It was kind of ironic that a nation renowned for clogs came out and practically tap-danced all over Spain, the FIFA HD replays catching each vicious foul in all its bloody glory.

Nigel De Jong’s brutal stud-first kick to Xabi Alonso’s chest had to be the pick of the bunch – more resembling a Jet Li film on your Blu Ray player than the World Cup Final. How the Manchester City midfielder remained on the pitch after that horrendous challenge is beyond me.

The Dutch could, realistically, have been down to nine by half-time but thanks to Howard Webb’s lenient officiating they were spared that hindrance. England’s Webb had a thankless task but I think he, for the most part, did a good job, which makes the fact he was booed by the Dutch at full-time and is being accused of favouring Spain by some idiots (I’m looking at you Dirk Kuyt) all the more ridiculous.

As chance after chance was spurned extra-time and the dreaded penalties loomed on the horizon, ninety, increasingly nasty and petty, minutes couldn’t part the two teams so to extra time we went.

The game had by now descended into stroppy footballers spitting their dummies out when things didn’t go their way – Arjen Robben being the biggest culprit. For a man with a wealth of talent he sure does paint himself a terribly loathsome character.

This petulance was painfully evident when Spain finally broke the deadlock through the magical Iniesta with minutes left on the clock. Swarming round the linesman, ranting, raving and throwing the ball away in a hissy fit, it was like the Dutch didn’t actually watch the rest of the match in which they had spent 115 minutes kicking the Spanish up and down Soccer City.

In the end justice prevailed, and just like the Chile game, in which Spain’s opponents had adopted similar tactics, football overcame cynical thuggery; for a country that once preached about Total Football this was a sad fall from grace.

The best team won on the night and the best team probably won the tournament. The Spanish never deviated from what makes them so special to watch – passing their opponents into submission.

With Iniesta and Xavi pulling the strings in the midfield and the breathtaking Villa up front they really are a nation that deserve the term ‘Golden Generation’ throwing at them.

Spain, long considered Football’s perennial underachievers have now cemented themselves as the best team in the World and quashed any lingering thoughts that the South American countries are more dominant in World Football than the Europeans.

Although Holland lost their 100% record as a result of last night’s game, one perfect World Cup record remained in tact and another World Cup legend was cemented; because Paul the Octopus had picked Spain to win last night.

If seeing that Octopus remain a cult hero wasn’t reason enough to cheer on Spain last night then I don’t know what was. That said though, judging from the following extract from a report today about Paul’s impending retirement the fame has already gone to his head:

“Paul made one final appearance on Monday when aquarium employees presented the octopus with a golden cup. Although the cup was garnished with mussels, Paul ignored it as it was lowered into his tank.”

There’s just no pleasing these celebrities is there!?

So as Iker Casillas proudly held aloft the World Cup and drew the tournament to a close many a tear was shed – some in joy, some in pain and some in pure sadness that it was all over for another 4 years.

But if you are suffering from a post-World Cup depression, just try and focus on the positives: you’ll soon be seeing half of the tournament’s best players underperforming in the Premiership on a weekly basis and more importantly the end of the World Cup also means the end of James Corden’s World Cup Live – see I knew that’d put a smile back on your face…


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