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Pop Quiz: Who were the only unbeaten side in the tournament?
An engrossing final, at least from half-time onwards. Did the Dutch really set out to clog, or just (quite rightly) to prevent the Spanish from playing their game in the hope of releasing Robben and Sneider and van Persie as the game went on (as they did, with Robben, a golden chance).From an English perspective a deeply depressing Finals. We couldn't give Nicaragua a game on the evidence.Roger - why do we think that of the top ten players, say, going into this world cup, very few performed as billed? Where were they?
Well done Spain.http://www.civitas.org.uk/press/prEnergyPolicyJuly2010.htm
The excellent soccer reporter Steve Goff's writeup of the final was the best I've seen so far:http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/11/AR2010071102274.html?hpid=artslotHe captures every important play that I remember, in the context of what was going on on the field, and with a sense that you are there, in suspense, as time ticks away. In his earlier version, he used the word "thuggish" to describe the play of the Dutch. He uses different words but gets across the same idea in this version.The Spanish play "total football" better than even the Dutch teams of the 1970s, who invented this manner of play -- total control, everyone involved, defenders with the same ball skills as the midfielders and forwards. The reason Spain now is the exemplar of this manner of play, I read yesterday, is that Johan Cruyff brought it to Barcelona when he coached there for several years a decade and a half ago, and it became instituted throughout the Barcelona youth program. So when you watch Iniesta, Alonso, Xavi, Pedro, Sergio, etc., you are watching the beneficiaries of Cruyff and the Dutch of the 1970s, not to be confused with this Dutch team. What an irony, that the Dutch of today were defeated by the Dutch of yesteryear. In a way, you could say that the Dutch finally did win a title -- just in different jerseys.
One of many reasons I'm happy it didn't go to PKs is the pun fest soccer writers might have had. Referring to the Spanish defender who takes penalty kicks, it could have gone something like:"Spain wins on Pique's PK"
To Roddy, comment #2: Roger may give us his take on your question, and I look forward to it. I'll take a couple of swings at your pitch as well.Rooney, to start with, can't create for himself against this level of opposition, and if you watched England, you may have noticed how many of his traps were so poor that the other team picked them off instantly. He is a devastating scorer, but only against slower defenders, and with superior teammates who can set him up. Contrast his lack of control with the exquisite control not just of the entire Spanish team, but of Diego Forlan of Uraguay, who combines the touch and skill of a playmaker with devastating scoring ability.I thought Messi was dangerous throughout, but teams keyed on him, surrounded him with defenders, so it was others who did the scoring. His assist on Tevez' offside goal against Mexico, for example, shows how quickly he reacts. Maradona is not a coach -- so I suspect that someone with real coaching ability would have found ways to free Messi up a bit more.Kaka of Brazil produced some excellent assists and goals. He was excellent, but Brazil crashed out for the only reason it ever loses -- defensive errors, in this case followed up by a red card for lack of anger management on a defender.It seems to me that the star players in this World Cup starred only when their team played well as a team. In other words, they can't do it alone.Roger? Anyone else? I love to hear others' reactions....
Tika-taka is NOT total football.Spain 2010 - Goals scored: 8 in 7 games.Holland 1974 - Goals scored: 15 in 7 games.The Dutch side of 1974 would wipe the floor with the Spanish side of 2010.Tika-taka is a product of the demise of contact football, and is dependent in a large part on modern refereeing. It can be considered a defensive strategy - if the opposition are denied the ball then they can't win games.
Just wondering why we are so happy that a team which scored 8 goals in 7 games won the World Cup. Surely the worst goal-scoring record ever.They won because they only conceded two goals in seven games, one against Switzerland of all people. So much for the praise (correctly) for the silken skills of Iniesta and Xavi. Look to the skills of the defenders.
Tom GI get your point, but the Spanish team doesn't have the flair of the Dutch of the 1970s. It's a bit like watching a cross between chess and sychronised swimming. Very clinical.I found myself wanting the Dutch to win because they were prepared to run with the ball.Defensive tactics and the corporate sanitising of the game due to the involvement of American sponsors has removed the passion, thrill and excitement of the past (for me).It was a working class game, now it is owned by Rupert Murdoch and Nike. European Cup winning captain Billy McNeil (Celtic) was asked what the biggest difference bewtween football and the 1960s and now. He said "we used to enjoy it".A few years ago, I played 5 a side football with one of my students, who was also a professional footballer in the Scottish Premier League. He told me that most of his team mates regarded the whole thing as a job and nothing more. They have to train hard, watch their diet, social life etc. etc.Rangers player Steven Naismith was recently asked if he was glad to be back in training. "No, the summer is never long enough"The money is fantastic, so they don't complain too much.
Tom GOnce again, your Rooney comment is very valid, but I believe he was injured twice and hadn't played well for the previous 3 months. He didn't look at all happy. So, we can't say for sure. It is true that players look better in their domestic leagues. Also, the English team was a complete shambles.I actually enjoyed the final because the basic skills (pass, trap) are much higher than they were in the past, and that is impressive.
As with a lot of other sports (and arts) it's a general law that the amount of money is opposite to the quality of the game. In other words, the more money involved the more boring the game (football, tennis, F1).
From BBC Football, comes news that none other than Dutch legend Johan Cruyff, the man credited with inventing the style now played most by the Spanish, is ashamed of the Dutch play:http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/world_cup_2010/8812484.stmSome passages:"Sadly, they played very dirty," Cruyff told Spanish newspaper El Periodico."This ugly, vulgar, hard, hermetic, hardly eye-catching, hardly football style... If with this they got satisfaction, fine, but they lost."Cruyff was the symbol of 'Total Football', which earned the Dutch successive World Cup final appearances in 1974 and 1978.Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk appeared to opt for pragmatism over style as he led the Oranje to a third final in South Africa, but the result was the same, as Andres Iniesta scored an extra-time winner for Spain. But Sunday's game was also notable for Netherlands' surprisingly aggressive approach.Cruyff, along with many others, believed Mark van Bommel and Nigel de Jong were lucky not to be sent off before half-time, Van Bommel for a tackle from behind on Iniesta and De Jong for kicking Xabi Alonso in the chest."They should have been down to nine immediately, then they made two [such] ugly and hard tackles that even I felt the damage," said the 63-year-old Cruyff."It hurts me that Holland chose an ugly path to aim for the title."Cruyff brought his footballing philosophy to Barcelona in an eight-year spell as manager, and he is widely credited with the one-touch passing style still employed by the Catalan club, who provided the backbone of Spain's World Cup-winning squad.
To Malcolm (comment 7), Roddy (comment 8) and eric144 (comment 9).The Spanish, to me at any rate, were the most frustrating World Cup winner (except those won on PKs, e.g., Italy last time around) because the profligately distained so many good scoring opportunities. If they scored at the rate (goals per shot on or near goal) as either the U.S. or Uraguay, they would have scored 2 or 3 goals a game. Had they done that, we would be celebrating one of the most dominating World Cup champions ever, one that would have scored something like 14 to 20 goals (not 8) and surrendered only 2. What seems (with some justification) to Malcolm as "tika taka" might instead be seen as a style so incisive that we would have said that the Spanish dictate the game for 90 minutes, not letting teams like Germany have a sniff of the ball, while scoring, if not at will, enough goals to create a dominating result.I didn't dislike the Spanish style of total control. I disliked that fact that of all the many, many chances they created, they could do so little with them. If they had converted just a reasonable percentage of their good chances, we wouldn't be discussing their style as boring, but as enabling.Just my two cents....