Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Well there's going to be a new name on the World Cup trophy come Sunday. This is a pleasing fact at least in an otherwise pretty disappointing 2010 Finals.

The Netherlands or Spain will battle it out on Sunday to become the 8th country to be crowned World Champions in the tournament's eighty year history. Paul the psychic Octopus was right!

There couldn't have been two more contrasting semi finals either.

Yesterday, Holland and Uruguay fought out a five goal thriller, with spectacular goals and late drama. The Dutch deserved to go through and have a pretty strong and seemingly rare cohesive unit in full flow just at the right time.

Today was a snoozefest. Literally for me, as I crashed out on the couch for a spell during the first half.

Spain basically passed their way to victory, dominating possession yet looking rather uninspiring in front of goal, whilst the rampant Germans we've seen throughout the tournament so far failed to show up. It was such a cagey and conservative affair at times, with all the top striking talent on display being shown how to do it by central defender Carles Puyol.

It's almost criminal to think that a team than can only score 7 goals throughout the entire tournament can make it to the final, but that's just what the Spanish have done.

Both referees that handled the semi finals did an excellent job. Today's ref, Hungarian Gabor Eros, did well despite having to deal with some tough simulation calls. Yesterday's ref, Uzbekistan's Ravshan Irmatov, is my ref of the tournament, which I've said here from a very early stage. He can't be blamed for the borderline offside Dutch goal and I'd love to see him get the final.

Hopefully we get a final in Johannesburg on Sunday that's worth the global audience it's going to attract. There's not been a lot of standout moments and games so far for me and we need the final to be a cracker to help us forget all about that and all the bad things and think fondly on 2010 when we look back in years to come.

I can't see Spain suddenly going gung ho though. The pressure on them to deliver their first ever World Cup trophy will be huge. They've finally not let their country's expectations down and are aiming to be the first European Champions to bring home the world prize since West Germany in 1974.

The Dutch will just go for it though from the off and we so need an early goal to avoid another game like today's.

If the Dutch sit back and allow Spain to pass the ball around then I think we'll be looking at a narrow Spanish victory. I don't think this will be the case though and I fully expect to see the town painted orangj come Sunday evening.

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