The Rakes of Mallow's Voice of the Supporters

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Dives, Dirty and Dullness of a World Cup Final

Well it could have been worse. For anyone who was expecting the 1974 Total Football Clockwork Orange to play the blazing, speeding, and controlling Spanish side of 2008, please put down the peace pipe. Anyone who had seen these two squads play throughout the tournament knew the Dutch played rough and counterattacked. They didn't overwhelm you with skill, rather with brute force and speed. They removed themselves from that team that absolutely imploded in the 2008 European Championship and realized that beauty has to be sacrificed if one wishes to win the trophy. We are in the age of Jose Mourinho football. Ever since the Special One led Porto to the European title we have seen the decay of beauty for victory. Where teams will pack the box, outmuscle the smaller player, and then run down the pitch full speed. This doesn't result in many goals, but it is very effective. The Dutch enacted this throughout the tourney, especially the out muscle part. The Dutch played dirty and physical. A point to be made was how this final had the most yellow cards given out ever combined and to one side.
To reemphasize how physical it was I have a wonderful picture:
I really felt bad for Howard Webb in how the Dutch played. He didn't want to be that ref who gave someone a straight red so early. So he basically warned the entire Dutch team, but the Orange colored street gang persisted. Now many people will slag Mr. Webb for letting a diver send off a player and letting Spain dive (I will address that next). I have a problem with that. The Dutch beat the ever living snot out of the Spanish players and probably should have had one more player sent off (see above). The Dutch came into this in the hopes to beat the Spain by playing a dangerous level of football, and failed. And I say good. It's a lesson that teams who play dirty should never win; but then again neither should teams that are dull and dive.

Spain, the World Champions, should thank the heavens they played a more enjoyable brand of football than Dutch or I would have exploded about how they played today. The Spaniards are quite deserving of being World Champions. They beat teams 1-0 on a very consistent basis, as they passed and passed and passed and passed and passed. Now the Dutch didn't get the memo from USA and the Swiss that smart organized play beats Spain. The Spanish at points were ripping holes through individuals who looked and acted like traffic cones, only to have these traffic cones be bailed out by a errant pass or a poor chance. The Dutch occasionally looked lost. The Dutch did have one thing going for them though: Spain being slow.

Now the Spanish team in 2008 ran wild on teams and combined their short and accurate passing with speed and a constant whir of gears all being fluent. Not this time. The Spanish were slow moving and didn't seem to be in that much of a hurry. Pedro, who just doesn't seem to fit, constantly possesses the ball and never passes. The remainder of the team all want to be heroes so they never pass to the open man on the other side of the box. As for tactics, as soon I saw Spains lineup, I thought this game was going to be mind-numbing at points. They took no risks, no thoughts of putting heavy weight on the Dutch for a full 90. Fabrigas needed to be there to create space. Torres should have paired up with Villa later in the game, it was like the Spanish wanted to go to a shootout. They got lucky in one of the moments where the traffic cones failed to clear the ball. Spain lacked intensity I was expecting.

Spain also went down very easy. Yes the Dutch played deplorable defense, trying to break legs, ankles, knees, and the occasional sternum, but the Spanish chose to throw themselves down as soon as contact was felt. I believe going down easy is a tactical maneuver which should be used occasionally to get the ref to notice a constant barrage of fouling. Doing it repeatedly, no. Diving, which the holy goal-scorer did, just was sickening. I hate watching replays and seeing no contact and a player flying through the air.

Now given these were the biggest complaints about this game and I do understand that its a World Cup. Single elimination title games are always cagey and uncomfortable and usually rely more on mistakes than skill. Usually teams play physical, or timid, or a little dirty, but both of these teams didn't make an enjoyable final. For those of you who are only with us every four years can go back to your soccer hating. For those of who you follow soccer, at least domestic play will be a constant. So congrats to Spain on being the slightly better team and winning the Cup in which you have always seemed to choke in. As for Holland, I have a movie for you to watch.

See you all in Brazil!

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