Sunday, July 11, 2010

World Cup Final

Today is the final of the World Cup 2010. It's time to say sayonara to the super soccer ball, the Jabulani (meaning celebrate in Zulu) specially created for this event by Adidas. It's time to salute an au 'voir to the vuvuzelas, the loud and exuberant omnipresent stadium horns. It's time to bid a fond farewell to the festival of football. Sixty-three games down, just the big one left to play out. How will we survive until Brazil 2014?

What memories, though. From the opening game with host nation South Africa against Mexico, through the England-US group-play match, to the surprising quarter and semi-finals where the power-house South American giants were felled by the Europeans. Who will forget the goal that never was, when Frank Lampard's shot for England landed at least a yard into the goal before bouncing out and play resumed (can anyone say "goal-line technology" please?). Or the notoripus hand-ball by Luis Suarez to save Uruguay in the very last minute of over-time and effectively knock out Ghana, dashing the hopes of the entire African continent.

Of course there are our favorite players. There was Cuauhtémoc Blanco (see right) of Mexico. From catcalls to cheers, this 37 year-old, chubby forward, who looked like he should be watchnig the finals plumped down on a soft couch rather than captaining his national team, became the first Mexican to score a goal in three consecutive World Cup Finals. Then there's Diego Forlan, the hair-band adorned Uruguayan goal-scorer, who netted 5 times and who seemed to be the only striker who could tame the Jabulani and score from a free-kick. Or Wesley Sneijder, the diminutive Dutchman who effectively knocked out favorite Brazil with a shot and a header. And there's the other mighty mite, David Villa, whose 5 goals so far have almost single-handedly kept Spain in the competition. Both he and Schneider have a game left to play in the final to break the 5-goal tie and become the winner of the golden boot for top-goalscorer in South Africa this last month..

While the Three Lions of England looked old and toothless, the young bucks of Germany seemed invincible, putting scoring four goals in a match three times, against Australia, England and Argentina. But Spain proved too much for them. The passion of the Iberians morphed into the patient passing play that was boring but brutally effective in choking Klose, the German scorer, and forcing a shut-out.

Netherlands Spain

Now it's down to two nations: Spain and Netherlands. We started with a blog post about favorite soccer movies. It's fitting that we end the tournament with a post on favorite films from these two countries. Here are mine; yours may be different:
By my count, that's Spain winning 5-1. With Spain's stingy defense, I predict a similar result on the field later today (like Paul the psychic octopus): Spain by a score of 2-1. But just so you know, I am still rooting for the men of Orange today. Go Holland!

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