Goodbye Old Friend

By , July 12, 2010 1:12 pm

Spain Win The World Cup

The World Cup is an extraordinary 64 games in a four-week span. So much football in what seems like a massive span of time. Yet the competition went in a flash and suddenly a new winner is crowned and the glorious world tournament is over for another four years. There is a feeling of slight depression when saying goodbye to this old friend, that stops by but once every four years. They leave you in a state of awe, sadness, surprise, joy, and most of all, hungry for more. It’s a cruel, cruel way to come and go, but alas, this is what we love about the beautiful game’s most prestigious tournament.

You could say many things about this World Cup, but in the end, it was a tournament of firsts. South Africa became the first African nation to host a World Cup, and they put on a brilliant show. People all over the world were opened up to a new culture and vibrant people who were as enthusiastic about football as any other great footballing nation around. The crowds were full of energy, and supported their home countries, as well as the other African nations all the way to the bitter end when Ghana were overcome by Uruguay.

It was also the first time the host nation went out of the tournament at the group stage. It wasn’t for lack of trying, South Africa had a splendid start against Mexico and earned a well-deserved 1-1 draw, but they capitulated to a very strong Uruguay side. Their win against France was a nice way to go out, but may have been overlooked due to France’s ultimate display of atrociousness.

Spain, the victors, proudly walked away with the World Cup trophy for the first time in its nation’s history. Not only did they win the final, but they made it to the semifinals for the first time as well. And not only that, but they also were the first European team to win the cup outside of Europe. To go on such a run as they did, and beat Germany in the semifinal, you had to think this was their tournament to lose. That being said, if the Dutch had overcome this resilient Spanish side, they would have also been declared winners for the first time in their history as well.

Wesley Sneijder Dejected After Holland Lose The Final

The World Cup 2010 was not just a time for firsts, but also for surprises. Massive footballing nations bowed out of the competition at much earlier stages than anyone had anticipated. And it’s not even to say they were beaten by far better teams. One of the major stories at this year’s World Cup has to be the way many teams performed well below par. You could name a handful of countries including favorites Brazil and Argentina, as well as England, France, Italy, Ivory Coast, and Portugal that crashed out. The stars on these teams all have a lot to answer for as many of them left the tournament embarrassed and disgraced.

It wasn’t all roses, though. France deserves some kind of medal for being the most deplorable side in attendance. Raymond Domenech should be ashamed of himself and his team for putting on such a ridiculous World Cup campaign. You could argue they had no right to be there after Henry’s “Hand of God,” but to play their games with such a poor spirit and lack of respect was a shame. Many other countries would have been happy to take France’s place.

Only A Yellow? Poor Refereeing Calls Made The Headlines In South Africa

There’s no way to talk about this World Cup without mentioning the officiating. The refereeing has got to be one of the most abysmal displays at a World Cup to date. What started off strong in the first few group games slowly turned into a nightmare for the tournament’s referees and FIFA. Too many red cards and important, game-changing plays missed by the officials cost teams dearly when the stakes were incredibly high. Lampard’s well over-the-line goal and Tevez’s clear offside have to be two of the biggest mistakes. And of course, who could forget the perfectly good goal-that-never-was for the USA against Slovenia to win the game 3-2. The USA still topped their group, but it made their last game a must-win in the end. The sad thing is, despite these easily correctable offenses, Sepp Blatter and his gang of misfits don’t seem intent on fixing things anytime soon. Knowing them, we’ll be watching the ball cross the line and waved off at the next World Cup in 3-D, but still with no goal-line technology.

I suppose football wouldn’t be football but for all the ups and downs. When all is said and done, it was an engrossing tournament. Full of shocks, headlines, referring decisions, star names (new and old), and in the end, it exploded with footballing wonder as only the World Cup can produce. It’s a shame we have to wait so long to meet again, but as they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder. Goodbye old friend, until we meet again in Brazil.

Why Holland Could (Should) Go On To Win Their First World Cup

By , July 2, 2010 1:23 pm

Dirk Kuyt and Mark van Bommel Celebrate Their Win

Holland beat Brazil in the World Cup quarterfinals. A masterful display, some might say. Not many people had picked Holland to progress through to the semifinals, but there you have it; the beautiful game at its best, with all kinds of twists and turns. What made the game great was not just that Holland won, but also the way that they won. The Dutch were down 1-0 only ten minutes in against the mighty Brazil, the team ranked number one in the world and favorites to win the competition for a 6th time. Most teams would have capitulated and Brazil would have wiped the floor with them, but Holland never gave up.

Although Wesley Sneijder was rightfully chosen as man of the match, the Dutch keeper Maarten Stekelenburg must be given a huge amount of credit. When Brazil was on the front foot after Robinho’s goal gave them the early lead, Kaká took a wicked curling shot from just outside the box, which Stekelenburg parried. A brilliant, and perhaps game changing save. At 1-0 down, Holland always had a chance to come back. At 2-0, you’d feel that Brazil was on their way to the semis.

Let’s be honest, some amount of luck fell the Netherlands’ way. Sneijder wanted to take credit for the excellent ball he swung in that nestled into the back of the net to make it 1-1, but it was the slight touch off of Felipe Melo’s head that deceived the goalkeeper. The midfielder unwittingly let Holland back into the game, and in the end, they really made their own luck. Suddenly the momentum switched allegiance. Holland attacked with intent and Brazil, for the first time in the tournament, looked afraid.

Wesley Sneijder Scores The Winning Goal For Holland

In the 67th minute, the floodgates opened for Holland. With another good cross and a pristine header by Dutch maestro Sneijder, Holland came back from 1-0 down to take the lead 2-1. Grolsch must have been hitting the roof of every bar in Holland. And within six minutes, Brazil fell apart. Melo fouled Robben, and in his frustration stomped on the winger’s thigh to earn himself a shiny red card and an early shower. After his assist to give Brazil the opening goal, Melo went from hero to villain by first committing the own goal, then getting a red card and leaving his trailing team a man down. He is perhaps the most hated man in Brazil at the moment.

The last 15 minutes of the game were tense, to say the least. But the Dutch kept their cool, and Brazil were the ones to capitulate in the end; tears of joy from Holland, tears of sorrow for Brazil. It has to be said that although they were favorites, they didn’t come up against a team as strong as Holland before the quarterfinals. North Korea put up a noble fight, the Ivory Coast played too cautiously overall, and Portugal, with the exception of their 7-0 thumping of North Korea, looked a dim version of the team they should be. Chile looked bright in the group stages, but Brazil easily wiped them aside. Holland, however, blocked their paved road to the semis by putting on a rugged and heartfelt display.

Brazilian Playmaker Kaka Walks Off The Field Dejected

This is a quarterfinal win that speaks volumes about this Dutch team and the World Cup overall. They are the country that almost every football fan can agree are the best team to have never actually won a World Cup. Winning from a position of being behind against a team like Brazil is brilliant enough, but Holland must see this as their golden opportunity to finally win the prize that has eluded their talented team for decades. Sneijder, who has been a revelation for his country, scored the winner and is probably counting the minutes until he can take the pitch once more next week. Holland have the talent, the tactics, the confidence, and all the momentum going forward. They not only could win this World Cup, they absolutely should win it.

Holland Supporters Celebrate

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