Archive for 12/07/2010


(Note: It was supposed to come out this morning, but due to reasons out of my control, it’s coming out now. Enjoy!)

Iniesta scoring the winner

It’s the moment everyone waits for. It’s the most anticipated and important game that takes place in the global sport. It’s the World Cup final, and the two teams participating in the game, Spain and Netherlands, were battling for their first World Cup.

In Soccer City Stadium, Johannesburg, the final didn’t live up to expectations as both teams on paper are composed of the top players that play in the top European leagues, mainly the Spanish, English and German league. The game was a very physical and dirty one, as there were 14 yellow cards, a World Cup final record, whistled in the game, 8 for the Oranje side, including a kung fu kick in the first half on Xabi Alonso by Nigel de Jong, where the latter was lucky to remain in the game.

Despite the harsh play by both sides, there were some chances for scoring in regular time, starting with Sergio Ramos missing a header in the first half after a beautiful cross by Xavi. In the second half came a crucial miss by Arjen Robben in the second half as he went one-on-one with Spanish goalie Iker Casillas  after a pass by Wesley Sneijder and shot the ball to the left as Casillas jumped opposite, only to be saved miraculously by Casillas’ feet.  As it would be seen later, this wouldn’t be the only opportunity had in this game. It seemed from there that the Dutch’s luck wasn’t on their side tonight as it normally never is when it comes down to the title match. Sergio Ramos would once again get spectacular opportunity as he had another header off a corner kick towards the end of the second half and would miss again.

After extra time began, Robben managed to sprint past defender Carles Puyol and get control of the ball, yet after a grab by Puyol from behind, Robben was unable to balance himself, hence Casillas once again stepping up and saving the ball, although Robben insisted later that Puyol should’ve been sent off. Cesc Fabregas came in as a sub for Spain and managed to create several opportunities in extra time, including missing a shot himself after it was deflected by the goalie and passing it to Xavi, who was tripped in the penalty box and should’ve been rewarded with a  penalty.

With all the yellow cards being given in the match, it was only a matter of time before a red card was shown, and Hettinga of the Netherlands was shown one in the second extra time after clearly tripping Andres Iniesta outside the box, depriving him from a clear goal and receiving his second yellow card, leaving the Dutch to 10 men.

Yet here comes in the controversy of the game. After a free kick by the Dutch had clearly changed path after hitting the Spanish defense and the Casillas,  the Dutch weren’t rewarded with a corner kick; instead, El Matadore  were given the goal kick, and Cesc  Fabregas took advantage of the extra man and past the ball to Andres Iniesta, who once again stepped up as a clutch player and shot to the opposite left of him past the Dutch goalkeeper with four minutes left, awarding the Spanish their first World Cup ever, with Iniesta and the Spanish captain Casillas the men of the match. The Dutch were left to only think of the “What-ifs” about Arjen Robben unluckily missing those shots.

Spain celebrating their well deserved World Cup

Notes:

  • Arjen Robben received a yellow card for complaining about missing his second shot, and should’ve received another yellow card for scoring after the referee had whistled an offside.
  • This is the third time Netherlands has been defeated in the final, the first since 1978, leading to winning no World Cups in 3 tries; while Spain reached its first final and is now one for one.
  • Spain is the first nation to lose its first match and still win the World Cup.
  • Thomas Muller received Best Young Player of the tournament, as well as the Top Scorer with 5 goals, coming over David Villa (Spain), Wesley Sneijder (Netherlands) and Diego Forlan (Uruguay), who all had 5 goals but Muller had more assists.
  • Iker Casillas received the Best Goalkeeper award in the tournament.
  • The talk of the World Cup, Paul the Octupus, went 8 for 8 in its predictions as it predicted all 7 seven winners in Germany’s games, and the winner of the final.
  • Germany has lost to the eventual World Champion for the third consecutive World Cup.
  • European countries have 10 World Cups to 9 for the South Americans, and have broken the pattern of 1 to 1.
  • European countries have ranked the top 3 in the World Cup for the past 2.
  • FC Barcelona had the 15 players in the World Cup, the most, with 8 in the world champions Spain, including Andres Iniesta who capped the win with his goal.

España

As I type this post up, the whole world now knows that Spain have been crowned as World Champions, over the Netherlands, at the 19th edition of the FIFA World Cup, held in South Africa.
The whole world now knows that for a moment there, it really didn’t feel as though this was the very-much hyped final between two possible first-time winners.

Robben, one of the many recipients of a yellow card

As a matter of fact, the game was a race to see who would collect the most yellow-cards, a feat accomplished by the Dutch in the 120-minute game.
And after the whole world had accepted the fact that yet another World Cup would determined by penalty-shootouts, Andres Iniesta, the little Barcelona midfielder, worked his magic thanks to a pass from Cesc Fabregas, and ensured that the Spaniards would lift that glorious cup that evening.
But everyone knows that, and if you don’t, I suggest you read a sum-up right here You know, just in case it comes up in a conversation sometime this week.
And it will.
As many have established by now, no one gets caught up in World Cup fever the way the Lebanese do. All the buzz surrounding Paul the Octopus’ predictions pale in comparison to what’s been going on here.
The streets of Beirut have been decked out in other nations’ flags for around three months now.

One of many flag-sellers on the Lebanese streets


Wild enthusiasts have taken over Facebook and other social networking websites to show unyielding support for their team of choice. Fireworks have been blasted in the sky whenever a team won, or even lost, and celebration parties have gone on all night long. That’s not mentioning the most incredible ability that emerged this year: instantly organizing conveys that trekked most, if not all, the Lebanese roads.
And here’s something else.
The Lebanese are so passionate about football, that they have gone out of their way to create a non-existing rivalry between Brazil and Germany, and even raise their children upon that. In fact, if one of these teams loses, which happened to both this year, fans would rather support the team the entire world considers to be complete opposites, than cheer on the other of the two.
To everyone elsewhere in the world, the final was Netherlands versus Spain, but right here, it was the classic (Really?) Germany versus Brazil, decked in different kits.
Which brings me to my point.
Football is exciting. Rooting for a team and witnessing their triumphs is gratifying. Which is why I can understand this sort of behavior, to a certain extent, of course.
But this over-hyping fad just needs to go away, now, and the English are the greatest testament to its consequences.
I’m no expert on soccer, but last time I checked, Lebanon doesn’t even have its own national team that can compete along with the Brazilians and the Germans.
If we did, would we really stand behind them as we do for the others? I’m going to go out on a limb here and say, no. No, because being patriotic is an awfully hard thing to do for us and we’d rather support anyone that doesn’t evoke memories of our own country.
I only wish that we receive some form of gratitude for all the support we pour in to those countries, like facilitating visa procedures, though that is a long shot.
The World Cup is over now, and won’t be back for another four years. During that time, only a quarter of those who tuned in for the “Mondial” will watch club matches, while the greater majority will remain in oblivion. It’s a sad, sad fact, but at least in the meanwhile, we can assume that nothing of what went on this past month has ever happened.