Evidently, one ill-fated night soccer and American football got together in a drunken hookup. The fruit of their conception was last night’s World Cup final, a monstrosity of a match between Spain and the Netherlands. It was probably the most foul game I’ve ever witnessed, and I’ve watched quite a lot of soccer.
If you haven’t been living under a rock, you know that Spain won, 1-0, on an elegant goal scored in the 117th minute (that is, nearly at the end of overtime). But the rest of the game was just plain ugly. In the 2006 finale, France’s Zinedine Zidane was sent off after he head-butted an Italian player. His red card was nothing compared to the worst foul of last night’s game, where the Netherlands’ Nigel de Jong intentionally kicked Xabi Alonso in the chest. He only got a yellow card, where red would have been deserved – and frankly, I would like to see de Jong barred from international play for a while. This was more than a foul; it was battery.
(Video of the foul is here, but I expect it’ll disappear soon at FIFA’s behest.)
When Germany’s not playing, I tend to root for the underdog, so I was initially pulling for the Netherlands, but that foul lost my sympathy. Spain played quite foul, too, but at least they weren’t vicious.
In the end, I was glad for Spain. Despite their flailing in the group stage, in the end they lived up to the hype (see: the Germany-Spain match). They also gave me one great reason to root for them: their goalkeeper, Iker Casillas. He did a couple of fantastic saves that spoiled apparently sure-fire chances for the Netherlands. He got emotional when Andres Iniesta finally scored for Spain. And he’s nice to look at, too.
The game for third place was far more exciting than the final, as it was in 2006. Okay, so Germany won third place then, too, but I don’t think I’m just biased. Uruguay and Germany both played fair and the game actually flowed – which can’t happen when a foul interrupts the action every 15 seconds or so. I would have been just about as pleased for Uruguay to win.
Happily, one of my absolute favorite players, Uruguay’s Diego Forlan, won the award for best overall player (the Golden Ball). Yay!! Casillas won the Golden Glove (for best goalkeeper). Germany’s Thomas Müller won both Best Young Player and the Golden Boot (for most goals – he won with five, plus the most assists). (The full list of awards is here.) Müller – who’s only 20 – is still so unassuming, he makes me think of a North Dakota farm boy.
I am perfectly satisfied.
My only gripe is that the World Cup is over. Now whatever shall I blog about?