Sunday’s World Cup was a hard fought brawl that saw the Spanish make history.
World Cup 2010 was a wonderful experience and lets look at some of the key elements that make it so incredible.
The Spanish just playing in the final was there first venture this far into the World Cup and Andres Iniesta pulled off the historic victory. A match that witnessed a record number of yellow cards still shone brightly as the Spanish did what they’ve been doing all WC. The lowest total number of goals scored by a World Cup winner was accomplished because the Spanish captain was utterly INCREDIBLE in net. Iker Casillas pulled off 4 straight shut-outs (all 1-0 victories by Spain) and etched his image into World Cup history.
For all the “main” stars that failed – Rooney, Messi, Ronaldo and FRANCE, there was all the new names to fall in love. Andres Iniesta gained the world’s eyes with his incredible Champions League form two years ago and his control for Barcelona has become legendary. But now Andres can add World Cup HERO to his reasons for being the best player of the 21st century (at least over the last 7 years or so).
Diego Forlan of Uruguay fought through injury to showcase just how bad ass he really is and he was properly awarded for it. Meet your GOLDEN BALL WINNER FOR BEST PLAYER IN THE WORLD CUP.
The Germans fought through everything to pull off victory over Diego and the hard-working Uruguay team. Bastian Schweinsteiger proved how good of a leader he really is – without Lahm, Klose and Podolski the young #7 led Germany to a third place medal. BUT the Germans had to many players show up for the WC. 20 year old Thomas Mueller may have been the most impressive as he took home the GOLDEN BOOT (highest scorer in WC – he tied a large group with 5 goals – but had 3 assists more then the other 5 goal club).
The German “old-man” etched his own historic run as he finished one goal shy of tying Ronaldo’s all-time goal mark of 15. Miroslav Klose didn’t get to finish things out due to injury, but his 3 world cups have been incredible.
Ozil should also get a lot of respect for the way he sparked the Germans – Werder Breman have a huge star on there team.
So looking back at my predictions going into the World Cup I think I had some things right (the DUTCH) and most things wrong (USA/ENGLAND – AFRICAN Countries). Like most of you all this World Cup did a lot to show that its never a predictable event – its always full of surprises (the Asian countries, South American Dominance in group stages and the Spanish winning it all with great defense and goalkeeping!!). There are a ton of great goals (Diego Forlan has 4 gems, Giovanni B of Holland had the rocket heard around the world, South Africa opening goal of the tourney is going to be a classic image from 2010, and also for us Americans Landon Donovan’s goal against Slovenia was AMAZING). The ESPN piece on the traveling Dutch fans, Paraguay’s top player surviving a brutal gun shot, The brotherly battle of the Boatengs, Magical Maradona with rosary beads and watches, and the crazy lack of instant replay will be the main story lines. Though the Spanish should be respected for taking over the world over the last 5 years. The Moustache reigns supreme.
I thought I’d go through each stage and pick one moment that stood out.
A. The play of Uruguay – especially Luis Suarez and Diego Forlan scoring goals at will. The Mexican youngsters Dos Santos, Guardado, and Hernandez was a delight. The South Africans competing in two of the three games (Uruguay was to strong for them), but the win over France was one of the best moments of the entire WC. F-rance implosion was rightly deserved for their lack of respect to the game and their constant bitching was a sad note to the WC.
B. Argentina and South Korea shined brightly as the Nigerian’s mighty Super Eagles couldn’t live up to the hype. South Korea’s coach’s bold predictions mixed in perfectly with Brash Maradona. By far the most entertaining manager was the “great lil one”. His two watches were a trip to see. Sadly the brilliance of Lionel Messi was only shown in glimpses, but unlike Ronaldo, Rooney and the French – Messi at least helped his teammates succeed. Higuan has further etched himself as a lethal goal-scorer.
C. What a harder group than I expected, but the top two did end up moving on. USA winning there group was a great step-up and the way Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey showed up was impressive. England showcased (along with Italy and France) that giving your youngsters a chance pays off then trusting old legs to fight through the pain.
D. Germany and Ghana battling on with out there captains (Ballack for Germany and Essien for Ghana – both Chelsea guys!!). The Boateng issue was fascinating and though that game didn’t live up to the hype both teams advancing was deserved. Thomas Mueller, Gyan, Ozil, and Kevin Prince Boateng showed that youth can rule.
Kevin Prince-Boateng (Ghana – Portsmouth) - Jerome Boateng (Germany – Manchester City)
E. The Dutch doing what they do was the only thing normal about this group. The Cameroon failure was sad and shocking. The Danish looked good, but reverted back to there defensive mindsets and allowed the Blue Samurai’s to steal the show. The Japanese advancing was pure gold in terms of shock value. Great group that had some wonderful games.
F. ITALY’s utter failure was the second biggest shocker next to the French. Seeing the defending champs do absolutely nothing really proved the age question right – YOUNGER IS BETTER. Also since I’m a Antonio Cassano fan I have to be happy that in four years he’ll be a starter (since he should have been one this freaking year). The Magician should have been on this team. Paraguay had the saddest story with Cabanas being out – though his amazing recovery was so awesome to see. New Zealand’s performances were incredible since they were so outmatched – a draw with Italy has to be there biggest game EVER!!
G. Drogba’s injury really haulted all the GROUP of DEATH talk. However, Brazil did look good (poor Kaka doesn’t fit in this system). Ronaldo’s lackluster showing and the image of him spitting at a camera man may have killed his chances of gaining fan support. A group looked at more for its crybaby and injured African star and not the brilliance of Brazil is the real sad shocker. North Korea’s incredible performance against the Brazilians is the best example of shocker maybe EVER. Group of Death rarely lives up to its drastic name and this year was one of the worst.
I googled North Korea Goal and this was on page 2 – so um yeah.
H. The Swiss defense miracle against the Spanish had many calling the eventual champs as the chokers (their normal place at the World Cup). The way Chile’s showed up completing a South American dominated group stage really summed things up nicely.
ROUND OF 16 – A tale of two halves.
The first two days of the Round of 16 was pure excitement. Uruguay had to fight out a victory against the game South Koreans. Ghana and the USA left it all on the field after a 110 minute plus brawl that witnessed Gyan become a national hero (later the scapegoat). Germany and Argentina demolishing of England and Mexico was purely BRILLIANT. Mueller became a full fledged star with his brace. Both games had two of the bigger ref mess up and so to the USA game. Minus the crazy calls and disallowed Frank Lampard goal these two days were utterly explosive.
Its only Instant Replay Sepp.
The next two days were a bore as Brazil and the Dutch handled up (Slovakia did score against Holland but never threatened). The final day saw two of the most boring defensive stalemates of the entire tourney. Japan and Paraguay was 120 minutes of pick your penalty kick order. And the Spain kept possession for an eternity against Cristiano and the Portuguese. After the goal that game was WORTHLESS.
Quarters – The exact opposite of the Round of 16.
The early games were the poor play variety and the wild ending to Uruguay saved this from being a bore fest. The Dutch and Brazilians both looked desperate and lost throughout their epic battle. Wesley’s performance was the only highlight as he kept Holland’s hopes alive and then won the game with the most unusual header. Uruguay and Ghana by far had the most WTF moment with Luis Suarez’ hand ball. BUT the people who booed Luis Suarez during the 3rd place game (he missed the Semi’s because of the red) are complete idiots and don’t realize the Africans LOST the game because they can’t convert a penalty.
The Second day saw the biggest beating and it was shockingly Maradona’s Men on the receiving end. What Germany did against Argentina completed the demise of the South Americans (Though Uruguay would keep on chugging). The Spanish and Paraguay players gave pure gold. Penalty saves, heroic runs, incredible pace and wonderful soccer in a game that only saw one goal = Amazing. Both teams showcased how their Round of 16 performances were the fluke – though Spain would be the one moving on.
Semi’s – Cards effect things drastically.
The Dutch took advantage of a depleted Uruguay squad (Luis Suarez out because of Red and injuries to Lugano and others really set the tone). Though Diego Forlan once again dazzled and gave the highlight reel another wonder. The goal of the tourney by old man Giovanni was a rocket from WAY TO FAR OUT!
The Spanish controlling nature really forced the exhausted Germans (without Mueller do to yellow accumulation) kept this from being exciting. The Germans looked beaten from the beginning and that was a shame.
The 3rd place game was a marvel as Diego fought through pain to dazzle more. Mueller’s return and a group of fresh players allowed the Germans to outlast Uruguay (though Forlan was inches from making this go into extra time). Boateng’s cross to Jansen was utter luck for Muslera for missing the ball completely. All those darn complaints about the ball – go back and watch every Forlan free kick (he freaking figure things out !!!).
The final aka the Blood Red Oranje lived up to the theory that both teams would battle it out. Karate Kid wasn’t the first thing to come to mind before the game but Nigel De Jong changed that really early on.
I Mean, Really… (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
But the golden trophy.
would end up in the Spanish hands thanks to Andres Iniesta heroics.
Respect for the amazing gesture to fallen teammate Dani Jarque.
In the end the World Cup 2010 in beautiful South Africa will have one lasting image. Spain’s first ever World Cup.