Sunday, July 11, 2010

Boring, Physical Final of the Vuvuzela World Cup

In the end, in extra time, Spain got the job done and defeated the Netherlands 1-.0 to be crowned the new King of Soccer. But it was a boring, physical game in which the Dutch players committed blatant fouls that deserved a red card or two. Spain was the better team, more poised and patient, and although Netherlands had its chances, the result was poetic justice for a nation that had broken the hearts of its fans for too long. Separatist unrest has already started in Catalonia, but for a few days at least, Spain deserves to bask in the glow of its sweet victory. Perhaps winning the 2010 World Cup will unify the country more than any political party can.

Watching this frustratingly ugly game made one thing clear: When Europeans play one another in the final, expect to be bored. We see exciting soccer when a European team is matched against a South American team. The Germany-Uruguay match for third and fourth place was far more entertaining than Spain-Netherlands. Contrasting styles make the beauty shine through in the beautiful game. Too bad both Brazil and Argentina lost and left early.

Some final thoughts:

The record for most goals in the World Cup will be held by Brazil's Ronaldo (15) at least through 2118. Miroslav Klose came close at 14 in his third World Cup but he will not be playing in 2114. Given that Lionel Messi hasn't scored a single goal in South Africa, there is no way he can catch Ronaldo even if he dominates the next two World Cups.

The most dominating team performance: Germany over Argentina 4-0. This was also the most thrilling match of the tournament. Viewers got their money's worth. Runner-up: Brazil over Chile 3-0.

Best player: Uruguay's Diego Forlan. His performance was consistently spectacular. He seemed to have a mystical understanding of the temperamental flight of the Jabulani ("to celebrate" in Zulu) World Cup soccer ball and bend it his way.

Most overrated: England's Wayne Rooney. The English team as a whole never measured up. The English are clearly masters of marketing. When it comes to delivering, they are the biggest dud in the world. To rate Rooney as a great player is to insult players who are truly great.
Runner up: Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo.


Young player to watch: Germany's Mesut Ozil. A gifted playmaker, his best days on the pitch are yet to come.

Best sideshow: Diego Maradona. He had the guts to speak his mind and bring passion to a game that badly needs it. His stars failed him.

Most intriguing character: Paul the Octopus, oracle of Germany's Oberhausen aquarium. Perfect prediction for all matches, including Germany's loss to Spain in the semifinal. Please release Paul to his natural habitat after his stellar performance.

South Africa as host: Wonderful!

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