Dream Come True

A Post Match View was scheduled but after 120 minutes of less than memorable football, I’ve opted not to detail the highs and lows. You’ll forgive me, please. I felt the football was underwhelming in general and at times embarrassingly subpar, especially for a FIFA World Cup Final.

There are always levels of apprehension and tension – if not in the mind then surely in the tactics – when you play a final. This match was no exception. To make matters worse, neither side featured a real star that could change the game. Sure, Villa, Xavi, Iniesta, Sneijder, Robben, and our own Robin van Persie can add spark to a game as well as any player around but they are not on that true world class level that it takes to save the spectacle from the dour.

What we saw today was not attractive. Do players compete in too many matches with their clubs during the season? Does football just not have the personnel to create and excite on the level of the truly great players of the past? The tournament was a success but what will it be remembered best for? Certainly not the play on the pitch, in my opinion.

Each side had chances. Although Spain did dominate in terms of possession and did take more initiative, Holland could have won the title if Arjen Robben and Joris Mathijsen hadn’t wasted their opportunities. Full credit to Casillas for stopping Robben one-on-one not once but twice. Even Johnny Heitinga had a good chance to open the scoring. And a word for Stekelenberg, a keeper I don’t rate. He was outstanding today.

A mate asked me at Half-Time what rating I’d give Howard Webb. I said 7.75 from 10. I felt he did a good enough job of controlling the game. The tackles were almost non-stop for long periods. Tempers, frustration, and incessant cheeky fouls could have upset the proceedings. Naturally, I feel van Bommel should have been sent off. I would feel that way regardless though.

Although I approve of Webb’s performance, Nigel De Jong’s boot to the heart (literally) of Xavi Alonso should give him reason enough to accept that he could have done a better job with his cards. The final tally for yellows was 13 and of course Heitinga got himself sent off when he held back match winner Andres Iniesta in the second period of extra time. It really should have been two reds, in my view. De Jong’s was a gutless act.

An ex-girlfriend sent me a text saying that the Dutch were playing “savagely”. This from a woman who knows as much about football as I do about baking. Almost nothing at all!

I gathered that many people were troubled by Spain defeating Germany. Spain is a team of excellent technicians in midfield, dangerous and usually clinical strikers up front, and an adequate back line with an excellent keeper. Against a team like Holland, a team that came to stifle play rather than to create it, Spain can look less than impressive. Let’s be clear though, this Dutch side got to the final because they were either tactically superior when they had to be or individually better than the teams they’d faced en route. Today they only came to nullify Spain, not to take the game to them.

I’m not sure what van Marwijk’s thinking was and nor am I second guessing him. What I will say is that he will more than likely never get to another FIFA World Cup Final. Deploying both Nigel De Jong and Mark van Bommel seemed ultra defensive to me.

No team on this planet can out pass or out possess Spain when they are firing on all cylinders. That makes it all the more important to create and finish as many chances as possible. With two destroyers in midfield, they did limit Spain’s attacks but created very few of their own. Why not play a more offensive side? Why leave Robin on his own when it became clear that Sneijder was going to play a minor role, thanks to a packed midfield with little space and Xavi Alonso and Sergio Busquets shielding the vulnerable Puyol.

If I hear someone call that guy a great player again I’ll kick him. How slow do you have to be to be outrun by Arjen Robben?!?!? Yeah, Robben is quick but fast he is not.

It can also be said that the game was headed to penalties and that Spain did not manage to score. That’s half the battle. Mr. van Marwijk has every right to tell me to go home, that I don’t know what I’m talking about. Besides, how often does Arjen Robben miss two breakaways?

I’m happy for Vicente del Bosque. His accomplishments make being dismissed by Real Madrid even more absurd. He seems a decent man. Of course I congratulate Cesc Fabregas. Does this mean he’s more likely to want to go back to Catalunya? I’m happy for Andres Iniesta. He is an underrated player.

I wouldn’t have been upset by the Dutch winning but that sentiment has more to do with Robin van Persie and the great Dutch players of the past. This collection is severely tainted with the likes of De Jong, van Bommel, and Heitinga (a player I used to have time for). Plus, the sight of Arjen Robben diving stays with me. Perhaps justice was served.

One thing for sure, Iniesta’s dream came true. Quite a nice gesture as well to commemorate the departed Dani Jarque. Brazil 2014 next. It should be special.

We play Barnet Saturday. Big season ahead. I said that last season, and the one before. Where’s our new keeper?

Chat later!

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