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Posted by Eduardo Alvarez on 07/12/2010

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...

Comments

Posted by edward jenner on 07/12/2010

what a day.
I think this spanish team will be remembered along with the likes of 1970 and 1983 brazilian teams, 1954hungarian teams and dutch team of 1974.
Even brasil in 1970 didnt have world class players in every position like spain have in this (except capdevila who is good but not great)

I thin xavi should have his surgery now, pujol and possibly capdevila should retire in grace, clubs should give a long time off to all the heroes and i dont care what happens in la liga this season (it is mouth watering clash with madrid's pragmatism vs barca's beautiful football school)

Ed Alvarez: well, you shouldn't really care because Barsa will run away with the title unless Mourinho proves that he has some divine gift...

Posted by Jane Skillman on 07/12/2010

Congratulations on a well deserved win for Spain!

Eduardo, I have totally enjoyed reading your blog through this World Cup! It has been insightful and amusing. Well done! I will miss it.

Ed Alvarez: thanks, Jane. Stay tuned for Euro12. No way I am going back to standard columns during a tournament after this. It's much more fun...

Posted by SantaMaria on 07/12/2010

Espana have been the best team in the world for the last 2-3 years. Not only with the most talented players, but a truly cohesive unit. The Barca core is unequaled in the world today. As a semi-Madridista (Soy de Bilbao, but amongst the two giants I had always preferred Los Merengues), Barca's style, dedication to player development, and organizational philosophy have really won me over. Now that it's been the central reason for Spain winning the World Cup, I couldn't be happier.
I still don't know that I can really get my head around the scenes of masses in people in Madrid going absolutely mad for a goal scored by Puyol or Iniesta, but it's a testament to how special this World Cup has been. I'm sure the old hostilities between Barca and Madrid fans will rear their heads before we know it, but maybe La Roja's victory will actually soften the animosity between the two camps, without diminishing the greatest club rivalry in the world.

Hey, we just won the WC--I can dream, can't I?

Ed Alvarez: you know what? I've been thinking about this for some time now. I enjoyed the derbies more back when each team hated each other's guts, but that was obviously not good for the national team. Now there's a clear bond between RM and Barça players, and I guess we'll watch less heated derbies, although we'll always have some president trying to get into the cover of Marca or Sport talking nonsense...

Posted by BenX1332746 on 07/12/2010

I thought Capdevila was really good the last half of the tournament, he was not beaten (on balance) once for a whole match maybe the whole tournament. Iker used his beloved feet quite well to beat Robben too, no, Ed? La Liga? That provincial little thing? Who cares at the moment :-)

Ed Alvarez: He really IS Rasheed!! He saved his best for last! Even though he was far from his Euro08 and even his Confed09 version, he improved quite a lot, and especially was always aware of his limitations. Gotta love him.

Posted by Adli Abu on 07/12/2010

what a day..
i hav been following the team since before euro 2008,n despite the team not as fluent as 2 years back, they keep on winning..what a team to hav lost the first game n rebounced to win the world cup..

now i would really look fwd to spanish team of the future since theres more young talented players waiting for their chance to stardom,the likes of krkic,cazorla n canizares..really cant wait!

n this spanish team would be remembered as the dream team of the decade,to be compared with the like of johan cryuff team,winning both biggest tournament n to go against all odds..congratulation n all d best SPAIN FOOTBALL..

Ed Alvarez: Adli, Canizares retired about four years ago. Thank God we do have other youngsters to replace Iker, who, btw, should be able to stick around until 2014

Posted by SeanP on 07/12/2010

Well Done Spain. With Mr Webb on your side you should have no troubles. How much did he cost? Is his contract going to be extended? When cameras come into the game Spain will be out of competition. If they dont make it in the next World Cup they could become part of a US NAVY SEAL Team, because they are expert divers. Shame on them

Ed Alvarez: Sean, if you honestly believe that mr Webb was on our side, well, good luck with your eyesight. I strongly recommend that you avoid driving, though. And if you really think that van Bommel and De Jong should have remained in the match after their first 45 minutes, well, the type of football you want to watch has more to do with UFC than with something played with a ball and two goals.

Posted by Alex on 07/12/2010

Eduardo,

Many thanks for your posting about Spain and Spanish football. I started reading your column when Phil left for the Middle East, and I have yet to miss a single post.

As an outsider to Spain/Spanish football (albeit one who has spent a good amount of time invested in it), it strikes me as unique in the extent to which football and politics are so intertwined. making some political argument based on the performance of the national team in England, Italy, or my country of birth (the USA), would just sound foolish. See The Atlantic´s and The National Reviews attempts over the last month.

Again, many thanks. We have a quick breather, but I look forward to reading your thoughts on La Liga come August. It will be especially important now that I am no longer in Spain.

Ed Alvarez: will take a look at those. Thanks for your readership, it's very rewarding.

Posted by newf on 07/12/2010

Ed: Wonderful job as usual.

Spain is the winner in many ways.

The world now has no respect for the Dutch--as a team and maybe as a nation. Too bad, there are some honorable Dutchmen, but they were represented by anti-football thugs.

You are right about players responding to incentives. The laws must be enforced with Red and probably multi-game suspensions. That should be done now in every league at every level, so players get the message regularly. Maybe we need "after-review" reds assigned on Monday morning. If that were done, the slimy, nasty career of Van Bommel would never have begun. Players like Van Bommel specialize in waiting until the ref must turn away before doing their worst to try to injure others.

But, the honest team won and that is the true revenge. And, this team had a dozen 25 and under youngsters who are ready to be stars.

Ed Alvarez: something has to be said about the Dutch fans. They were simply perfect after the match finished. Not even one incident. Just brilliant.

Posted by Jordi on 07/12/2010

@Adli,
Cañizares is 40 and retired

I think this is a generation of players hardly repetable, and I don't see a lot of youngsters who can substitute in the future the likes of Xavi (30 years old - Perhaps Cesc) or Puyol (32 y.o. - as a defender perhaps is easier finding a sub)

Ed, who do you think will not repeat at Brazil 2014? (obviously if we classify for that world cup)

Ed Alvarez: Cesc is indeed Xavi's replacement, and by the way things look, it will be so both for Barcelona and Spain. Most of the squad is under 30, and we have plenty of talent coming up (Pedro, Navas, even Bojan), so they should be able to have a shot in Brazil. Puyi won't be there, and I very much doubt that Xavi will make it...

Posted by martina on 07/12/2010

¡Aúpa LA ROJA!
They deserve this championship more than any other team.

Posted by patizambo on 07/12/2010

Edu, I've enjoyed your posts a lot but your commenters are the real "Cracks".

Cañizares is one of many: "young talented players waiting for their chance to stardom", on canal+.

Congratulations we're the world champs, but don't get used to it merengón, Iniesta, xavi and the rest are BARÇA players.


Btw,Do you think this victory can raise the level of play of these guys? I mean the whole team, the twenty three in their clubs, and raise La Liga level as well?

Ed Alvarez: hard to say. They'll be national heroes for some time to come, regardless of their next few seasons...

Posted by Adli Abu on 07/14/2010

@jodi/ed alvarez
HAha.. looks like there were some who paid attention to my comment about young players n CANIZARES huh..

sorry,actually i was about to mention canales.not canizares haha..but i forgot n instead putting canizares the keeper..
i heard he, sergio canales has signed for madrid, so he would be one of the future prospect for spain football..

negredo also can be good, managing 2 goals n 2 assists in a game for spain which i cant remember against which team..to replace villa in next world cup since he would be already 32

albiol can be a replacement for puyol i think as he frequently used by madrid,he could easily partnering ramos in spain defence..

future will be bright for spain

Ed Alvarez: agreed, the future looks almost as bright as the present!! World Champions!!

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About

Eduardo Álvarez has written about Spanish football for Soccernet since Euro 2008 in Austria, where he witnessed a rare Spanish victory. He'll follow the Team Formerly Known as The Armada to South Africa, and will bring you all the news and gossips from the Spanish camp.

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