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