I just got back to my hotel from a huge night in Joburg, celebrating Spain's World Cup victory. As you can imagine, it's been a pretty intense day, from the preparations in the morning, the trip to the stadium, the nerve-wrecking 120 minutes, and of course, the post-match celebration. I'll write something more detailed tomorrow, but here's a few thoughts before I go to bed:
1) Spain deservedly won the 2010 Cup, two years after deservedly winning Euro08. The merits of this achievement can't be overstated.
2) Even though, for whatever reasons, during this tournament Spain did not play with the same level of accuracy in the final third, this side always go out to score and win, which can't be said of that many national teams nowadays. Obviously, most teams know Spain quite well by now, and know how to play against them, which makes it more difficult for the Spaniards to get more generous scoring figures. In any case, credit should be given to Del Bosque and Aragones, because they structured a team that enjoy playing offensive football and going always for the win. In every single 1-0 win this tournament, the Spaniards had plenty of chances to increase the score. The fact that they didn't have four or five more goals was just a question of poor shape, lack of calm or pure luck, but the intent was always there.
3) Offensive, scoring-first approaches should be protected by the refs. We all knew beforehand that the Dutch would not be as gentle as the Germans, but what they did during the first half was nothing short of pathetic. If we want to foster attacking football and spectacular plays, De Jong and Van Bommel can't stay on the pitch after what they did to Alonso and Iniesta, respectively. Webb was simply awful, as expected. Yellows won't do it when there's pure violence on the pitch, but the Englishman avoided showing a red card for as long as he could, despite having seen enough vicious tackles to show at least two. If we favour this type of defensive strategy (to give it an educated name), we're bound to see more and more teams playing the way we saw Portugal, Paraguay, Switzerland and Holland play against Spain: constant fouling, a few violent plays and no interest to put together a decent offensive play. That is not good for the game.
4) Having said that, I thought the match was truly entertaining. Spain kept trying to score for the whole 120 minutes, but didn't manage to totally control the proceedings like they did against the Germans, as the Dutch counter-attack and their set pieces never stopped threatening Casillas. It was a very intense final indeed, with several interesting tactical variations, and plenty of things to pay attention to as a football fan.
5) Saint Iker deserved the MoM to me. I know Iniesta scored probably the most memorable goal ever from the Spanish perspective, but just like against Paraguay, without Iker's saves Spain would have had to come from behind, which didn't seem easy at all. His two one-on-one against Robben were simply magnificent, and he didn't have a single moment of doubt with the Jabulani (I'll go through the results of my five predictions tomorrow, I promise). A performance for the books.
Well, time to sleep. My first night as a World Champion!!! I'll post a more detailed analysis of both the match and the tournament tomorrow evening, after I land back home. Believe me, I'll have plenty of time to write on the plane...