>> Monday, July 12, 2010
The 2010 World Cup is over, and Spain are champions. The final wasn't the best game of the tournament though. In fact, far from it. It wasn't the Beautiful Game on display on Sunday. Neither team wanted to play much in the midfield. It was an up and down the field battle, each team rushing at the other like madmen. And yet there were so few real scoring chances too. It was sloppy, it was uncontrolled, it was tentative.
It was also dirty. Lots of flopping and diving. Lots of pushing and shoving and pulling. A finals-record 14 yellow cards, more than doubling the previous record from 1986, and ranking the third highest total ever in any World Cup match. TWo of those 14 yellow cards went to the Netherlands' John Heitinga, sending him off and leaving the Dutch with only 10 men for the last few minutes of play--just long enough, in fact, for Spain's Andres Iniesta to put one in the Dutch net and win the thing outright before the game went to the dreaded penalty kick stage. I was at least glad to see a new team added to the list of World Cup winners, and though the Dutch have been to the finals now three times without winning, Spain were the most successful World Cup team never to take home the cup. So congrats to Spain.
For all the disappointment of the final game, there were brilliant moments and brilliant players along the way. A new generation of household World Cup names emerged, including Spain's David Villa, Germany's Mesut Ozil and Thomas Mueller, Mexico's Giovani Dos Santos, Ghana's Andre Ayew and keeper Richard Kingson, who isn't young, exactly, but staked a name for himself on the international stage. But no player made the World Cup his own more than Diego Forlan (pictured above), the strikingly good-looking striker for Uruguay, who took home the Golden Ball as FIFA's pick for best player of the tournament. (And as bad as the final game was, how good was that third-place game between Germany and Uruguay? Game of the tournament, perhaps?)
I enjoyed every minute of this World Cup--okay, well, not EVERY minute, as there are some particular minutes in the USA's matches I would very much like to forget--but overall I loved watching all the countries compete. And I'm already thinking ahead to World Cup 2014 in Brazil, and wondering if that might not be the year to finally plan to be there to watch the games live...