VIVA ESPANA! Spain defeat Netherlands in World Cup Final
La Rojas - Spain - Espana - whatever you call them, they are the new FIFA World Cup Champions!
This was no classic, that we can all agree on, and unfortunately, it may be remembered for all the wrong reasons.
Like Zidanes headbutt 4 years ago, De Jongs challenge on Xabi Alonso may be the talking point of this World Cup Final more than the football match itself!
The Spanish dominated this match from start to finish but failed time after time to finish the match off. The Netherlands had their chances and could have won it but the European champions deserved to win as they outplayed their Dutch counterparts.
La Rojas played the Dutch style of 'Total Football' while the Dutch played a rough workmanlike style of football that involved heavy challenges and long balls. This was not what we had come to expect from the Dutch but it may have been that Spain were just too good for them and that was all they could manage.
The game was littered with late challenges and yellow cards. The Dutch seemed to be intent of showing the Spanish the heavy side to their game as they kicked and pushed every Spanish player in sight. From the kick off, it was apparent, they intended to harass Xavi, Iniesta & Alonso and make their presence felt. It may have been intentional and meant as a warning and scare tactic but it didn't work as the Spanish midfield dominated the play with the superb one touch play that they are capable of.
Iniesta was outstanding with his velcro like feet and created chance after chance hoping to release David Villa through the middle or unleash overlapping Sergio Ramos.
Xavi, who was conducting his own orchestra, still sought to maintain his usual percussive rhythm, took his possession game to Holland but those expecting a masterclass of attacking football were being disappointed.
Mark van Bommel, never shy in a challenge, clattered Iniesta, Capdevilla, Xavi and Puyol before he was cautioned. For all his challenges previously in the championship, he had only been booked once, for kicking the ball away!
The worst offence of the match can best be described in two ways, Eric Cantona karate style kick at fan or Gerard Butler 'THIS IS SPARTA' style kick in the movie '300'. Dutchman De Jong decided to bury his boot into the chest of Alonso in a terrible challenge and unbelievably escaped with yellow when it should have been red.
On occasion, football prevailed with Xavi twisting and turning himself into the box before hitting the side netting before Robben, on his favourite left foot, fired in a shot but a scrambling save from Casillas kept the ball out.
In the 2nd half Spaniard, Cadevilla miscued badly to miss but Holland woke up with Robben again letting fly, again bringing a save from Casillas.
Van Bronckhorst, who was playing his last ever match, kept ensuring Ramos did not get past him, legally or not and his fellow defender Heitinga was brought to book for following through on Villa for a yellow card.
Once again, Spain were rescued by Captain Courageous, Casillas. Sneijder slid a ball through to Robben who went through on goal, one on one with Casilla, but the keeper managed to stretch out a leg and divert Robbens left footed shot to safety. Should have been a goal for the Oranje.
Jesus Navas, who had replaced Pedro, was making a difference, stretching the Holland defence with his runs down the wing and still the chances fell Spain’s way. Xavi hoisted in a corner but the unmarked Ramos headed wastefully over. Iniesta almost found a path to goal but was brilliantly dispossessed by Sneijder.
Holland could have had a penalty when Robben broke free through the middle before Puyol wrapped an arm around the flying Dutchman but Robben stayed on his feet to escape the Barac star but could not round Casillas, who dived at his feet and again saved Spain.
Extra-time was upon us and opportunities came and went but neither team seemed prepared to score.
Matijsen headed over. Jesus Navas’ shot deflected just wide off Navas. Iniesta nutmegged Robben. Fabregas poked a shot wide. The list of misses went on and on, too many to mention.
Then, Heitinga, who had already been yellow carded, pulled back Iniesta and received his second yellow which as you all know, equals a red.
But, when everyone was expecting the match to go into penalties after the 120 minutes was finished, up popped Iniesta, who pounced on some good work by Torres and Fabregas and with 4 minutes left to play, hammered the ball past the Dutch keeper to give his team the victory and the World Cup Trophy.
The rest, they say is history, as Spain manage to pick up the golden trophy for the first time and become the 8th team to win the coveted prize.