Monday, July 12, 2010

Spain Wins First World Cup

Amazingly, English referee Howard Webb did the impossible. By constantly puffing on his whistle throughout Sunday's World Cup final, he managed to create a more shrill sound than the omnipresent vuvuzelas.

Sadly however, Webb's timing, well, sucks.

Yes the Dutch were dirty, just ask Johan Cruyff, but Webb's need to interject himself over and over did as much to take away from the spectacle of Spain's 1-0 extra-time win over the Netherlands. Spain were no saints either. Portugal's Iberian cousins apparently have been paying attention to the master baby-daddy Cristiano Ronaldo, the diver extraordinaire. The drama was in overdrive Sunday night in Jo-berg and the result was a lousy final.

But really, this isn't a surprise. After all, aren't most major tournament finals terrible? They're chippy, dirty and yes, extra-time affairs that rarely live up to the hype. Thank God sex isn't like soccer, otherwise, we'd all be orgasming in the early stages of the event and the big finish we hope for ends up being a limp biscuit.

Spain won its first World Cup, and justly so. Spain was the better team. It was the best team in the tournament, though Germany has an argument there. It's appalling that the Dutch went into the game convinced they could not contend with Spain's patience and precision. They approached the rectangular pitch like an MMA octagon. Nigel de Jong, in fact, took that a bit literally. He should have been red-carded immediately, as should have Arjen Robben late in the extra time.

Look, we're a few hundred words into this post and we haven't talked about the pretty football that was practiced on Sunday. Because between the whistles, magic spray breaks, and embellished pains in the knees and ankles, we tend to forget how every single time Robben touched the ball he did something positive. How many corners did he create? How many breathtaking runs through the impenetrable Spanish defense? And the breakaway that should have been a goal. Good think Ilker Casillas didn't trim the nail on his big toe, eh?

How about Carles Puyol's play in the semis and the final? And what about Sergio Ramos turning the Dutch defense silly on more than one occasion, never mind his header that should have settled things long before Andres Iniesta's goal late in extra time.

And the wonderful Iniesta. Long a favorite here, it was so fitting he scored the legendary winner. How perfect that he played so perfectly the whole match. He and Xavi are the best midfield pairing I've ever seen, and I believe the best teams always win, and the best players always win.

And speaking of winning, Spain is the first World Cup title holder to also hold the European championship. More remarkably, Spain did so winning both championships on foreign soil. The greatest team of our time won the world championship. Like Iniesta, perfectly fitting.

Subscribe to Starting Eleven

No comments: