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July 11, 2010

World Cup Finals: Spain 1 – Netherlands 0

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The 2010 World Cup has come to an uneventful end.  The Euro champions, Spain, vanquished an upstart Dutch team to claim soccer’s biggest trophy.

It was a boring final game that capped off an uneventful tournament. Africa was a good host. There were not any security issues, and the only hiccup on the part of the African authorities was a mix up where several planes full of fans couldn’t make it to their games in time because of delayed landings.

The pitches held up, the atmosphere in the stadiums was upbeat (minus getting used to the annoyance of a vuvuzela) and the players seemed to be genuinely enjoying themselves. The problem was the quality of the soccer itself. Most of the biggest stars of the game (Rooney, Ronaldo, Kaka, Messi, etc) didn’t bring their best games to soccer’s biggest stage.

The officiating was HORRENDOUS (see some of my previous articles) and arguably cost some teams their places in the tournament. Once elimination games began, the games became even more boring. The final was a physical affair (the most penalized final in history of the World Cup) but was devoid of more than 3 legitimate scoring chances. The Spanish haven’t scored much in the tournament, but they barely generated chances. The previously exciting Dutch team was equally inefficient at generating opportunities for Robben and Sneijder.

I understand that teams fear opening up and being prone to counter attacks, but this game was destined for penalty kicks after the 5th minute where the Spanish missed a legit opportunity to score off a corner kick. Arjen Robben had several opportunities, but Iker Casillas was up to the task and robbed the Dutch time after time. If not for the scoring proficiency of Andres Iniesta, the final would have been left to penalty kicks, which in my opinion isn’t a good indicator of who the better team is.

It seemed as though most of the teams didn’t do anything until their tournaments were on the line. The English did nothing against the Germans until they were down 2 – 0. The Italians were comatose until they were about to lose to Slovakia 2 – 0. None of those favorites managed to advance, but it begs the question, if they had shown such quality from the first minute, would they have gone home so soon?

I did enjoy moments of the World Cup, but am I alone in saying that it was somewhat of a letdown? It was somewhat boring. These players and superstars need to show the urgency throughout 90 minutes of play that they showed when their tournament lives were on the line. What do you think?

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