Sadly a rather disappointing World Cup Final will be largely remembered for the controversial refereeing decisions by Howard Webb, which ultimately led to Spain winning late in extra time.
12 yellow cards and a red largely tells the story of a scrappy match with petty fouls and a packed midfield stifling any hope of free flowing football. Holland probably had the slightly better chances but the only real talking point of the game was the strange decisions by Howard Webb deep into extra time when he first missed a clear corner for Holland he must have been the only person in the stadium who thought it was a goal kick. If that wasn’t bad enough and a few second latter Holland should have had a free kick which he again ignored allowing Spain to counter attack and from this Iniesta scored the winning goal. What had been an otherwise good performance by him was marred by these two ludicrous decisions, which will follow him for the rest of his career.
Still overall Spain were probably the better team and they have now added the World Cup to their 2008 European Championship win making them clearly the most successful international team of the 21st Century so far.
Interesting, intriguing, slightly dull, choose your own superlative. Spain opened brightly but couldn’t capitalise on their possession and the Dutch have came into the game more as the half has worn on.
Still anyones game although Holland might just feel they have weathered the storm as they did against Brazil. Overall the chances of a tired mistake or a sending off defining the outcome look to be high.
Here’s hoping for a better second half.
Finally after what has been the quickest four weeks ever (or the slowest according to the numerous World Cup widows out there) the final is upon us and what a final it proposes to be.
First we have the midfield flair of the Spanish who currently have their finest international squad ever. Even the German’s couldn’t stop them and in their semi final they finally showed flashes of the brilliance they are capable of keeping possession for long periods and stifling the German counter attack which had been so devastating against both England and Argentina. It could be they are reaching their peak just in time for the big one.
Then we have the Dutch who have shown they are a match for anyone and although they have been a little workman like in their victories they still have a 100% record both in the tournament and in qualifying which must be a record especially if they lift the trophy. They might not have the total football skills of the Holland teams of the 1970s but they remain a formidable side and in Sneijder & De Jong
they have the players capble of giving Spain’s formidable midfield something to think about.
In terms of squad value this should be a walk over for Spain however as we have seen from Germany’s superb performances perceived value doesn’t always transfer to success on the field and the Dutch have also beaten illustrious players when fighting back against Brazil.
Overall this is a hard match to call and with neither side having won the cup there will be nerves, which can lead to mistakes. However there has to be a winner and if forced to choose its the Dutch who look the most likely to prevail. Spain do play lovely football but have relied on teams running out of steam thanks to their flowing passing and possession. Holland are unlikely to flag and will be more combative in the middle of the park than Spain’s previous opponents. This should be enough to frustrate the Spaniards and I expect Holland to make it third time lucky and become the 8th nation to win the World Cup.
Germany made 5 changes for this match compared to the team which played the semi final, but were still too good for a plucky Uruguay.
This was one of the more entertaining games in the tournament and with little to play for both sides opened up and treated the fans to some nice end to end football.
Germany opened the scoring on 18 minutes when the Uruguay keeper Muslera, who was not to have a great game spilled a long range shot, and Muller was the first to react stabbing the ball home. However this lead only lasted 10 minutes thanks to some nice Uruguay football starting with a great tackle on Schweinsteiger and ending with Cavani calmly slotting the ball into the net thanks to a lovely Forlan pass. Uruguay were now firmly back in the match and going into half time it looked like they could fancy their chances.
The second half which was played in heavy rain continued in the same vein and it was no surprise when possibly the player of the tournament Diego Forlan put the South Americans 2-1 up with a well taken volley. This put him level in the Golden Boot competition and with assists possibly counting in the event of a tie he could be in with a chance.
Victory would have been sweet for Uruguay who because of their early success are often thought of as a bigger team than they really are, but alas for them it was not to be and two bits of bad defending cost them dear as Germany took the third place medal for a second consecutive World Cup.
Germany’s final two goals came from Jansen in the 56th minute, when he headed in following a hopeless flap at the ball by Muslera and Khedira who pounced on some defensive hesitancy in the 82nd minute.
As per usual Uruguay refused to give up and with the last kick of the game Diego Forlan hit the crossbar from a free kick.
It has been a great World Cup Finals for both teams and Uruguay Manager Oscar Tabarez’s and his team can look forward to a heros welcome when they return to Montevideo while the German Coach Joachim Loew who was much maligned pre-tournament will probably be able to write his own salary cheque when renegotiating his contract
World Cup 3rd Place Playoff Final Score
Germany 3-2 Uruguay
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
This is not a game any country wants to play in, knowing they were so close but fell at the final hurdle. Still being the third best team in the world is no mean achievement and these games have often been more entertaining than the final.
This time round its the perenial appearers Germany against the pre tournament write offs Uruguay in what will be a replay of the 1970 3rd -4th play off match which Germany won 1-0.
Uruguay who have not had much success against European teams over the years must be thrilled to have made it this far and for a country of only 3.5m people its no mean achievement these days. They showed a lot of pluck against Holland and a never say die attitude which was refreshing after so many cautious matches in this years finals. In Forlan they have a player who can score from nothing and Suarez will be back from suspension, which will be a big help for them up front and possibly in their own penalty box should the “new hand of God” be called upon.
Germany seem a lot less botherd about this game with Lahm and Neuer both being dropped and seem to be treating this as a chance to give a few players a teste of the tournament. Its nice they are giving some of their second string a run out, and the experience will be of great benefit to them as Germany prepare for their assault on the 2012 European Championships, for which they will be close to favourites.
Overall this will be a close game and despite Uruguay never having beaten a European side in the World Cup Finals since 1970 I just have a feeling they will end their drought here and take them to win by the odd goal.
Thanks to Spain’s narrow win over Germany last night it is now assured that a new name will be added to the illustrious list of World Cup Winners. Prior to this years tournament only 7 countries had ever won the competition these being: Brazil, Italy, Germany, Argentina, Uruguay, France & England.
So now either Holland or Spain will join this list with the Spanish being quite strong favourites to add this to their recent 2008 European Championships win. Who ever prevails it will be good for football to see another nation on the winners list.
In what is probably not a major surprise given his sub standard performances of late, Spain have elected to change their formation slightly dropping Fernando Torres and replacing him with Pedro who is more of a winger than a striker.
The main surprise for me is that they haven’t started either Fernando Llorente (right) or Cesc Fabregas in his place either of whom could add a new dimension to the Spanish play.
Germany are at near full strength with the only notable absentee being Thomas Mueller who is suspended.