World Cup 2010

The Finals – A Great Match Up

World Cup

Spain vs Netherlands

Up to the semi-final round, I had trouble reading the Spanish game plan. Each match, they did just enough to get by and never really unleashed their reserve. Frequently, I was left with the feeling that they were deliberately stopping short of the magical spell that leads to scoring beauty. It always seemed to be one more pass away.

Don’t get me wrong. Spain had some nice goals. Their control of play through possession has been impressive, and ultimately they’ve played conservatively, patiently and defensively. At times, to me, they seemed like an F1 driver cruising town in a sweet Ferrari and never pushing the car out of second gear. That’s why I thought the Germans just might catch them sexting at the wheel.

The game against Germany was revealing, but for all the wrong reasons for these young upstarts. Germany were on a hot streak. They were playing with flare and class, and seemingly had real momentum backing them. Their path into the semi-final left me thinking Spain might have been whistling at the ladies a little too long as they filled up the racy wheels at the pump.

As we all know, Spain took them apart. They dictated the pace of the game, and were happy to run the Germans around in circles rather than push toward their goal. That’s when it dawned on me. The Spaniards are the ones playing with the utmost confidence in South Africa.

The languid, domineering “come and take it from me” tactics hadn’t been laziness. Nor was it a sign of hype exceeding substance. These guys are playing to win, and they don’t care about running up their scoring stats or taking glory runs for the cameras. They are playing with skill, but also faith. They believe it’s their time.

The Spanish side have worked this tournament with a measured determination. They know that the Cup is theirs to lose. This group of players are playing for destiny. This is their time, their turn for the biggest victory of all.

I appreciate the Dutch team and their style of play. To confess, I’ve alternately rooted for both of these teams at various times.  The truth, however, is that they are facing a Spanish side that is single-minded in its view that they will not lose. The Dutch have been inspiring underdogs in reaching this final. They are just as deserving of this long-denied title. Tomorrow, they will need a miracle to best Spain.

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