In an extremely disappointing show of primitive aggression, the Dutch turned the beautiful game into a slug fest. I anticipated that the Dutch would use rough tactics to break up the game but Van Bommel and De Jong took it abysmal depths. Spain also retaliated and the quality of football in the final was mediocre. It was entertaining like a boxing bout is but artistry and technique were forgotten after 5 minutes into the match. Spain started off brightly as they did against Germany and threatened through Ramos on the right flank. But the chance that he created was the signal for the Netherlands to close the door. Thereafter no player was allowed time on the ball, fairly or unfairly. The official tried to get the game under control by awarding numerous free kicks and yellow cards. A frustrated Spain also lashed back and earned a few cards.
The second half continued in the same vein with Spain enjoying superior ball possession but they were being hacked and as is their wont, not scoring when they should have. Iniesta and Xavi are most reluctant to let the ball fly form 20 or 30 meters. They always look for the perfect pass which will create the tap in. Spain created a host of chances with the best ones falling to Villa and Ramos. Villa was out of touch in the final. If they had taken some long shots they might have won this match convingcingly maybe by 2 or 3 goals, especially Iniesta who was beautiful in mid-field and pedestrian inside the box.As it transpired, the better chances fell to the Dutch. Sneijder freed the brilliant Robben twice – once he was denied by the equally superb Casillas and the other time he was held back by Puyol – for which he should have been sent off. But it was justice in the end since the Dutch should have been down to 9 men in the first half itself. Robben was the shining star for the dutch and I believe it was only he who matched or even bettered the Spanish quality.
The infusion of the substitutes late in the second half really lifted the Spanish and they looked even more threatening – Fabergas and the unheard of Jesus Navas were unbelievable. It was just the Spanish showing off their bench strength. Fabergas missed a chance similar to the one that fell to Robben.
The game was dominated in the extra time by Spain. The Dutch were reduced to 10 men with around 10 minutes to the final whistle and in the dying moments of extra time, Spain deservedly got their goal through an Iniesta strike (at last). The best team did win. The Oranje got the worst out of their opponents and the referee. It was really hilarious to see that Van Persie saying the Iniesta should have been sent off for retaliating. That seemed to be their strategy which worked against Brazil but luckily not this time. Sneijder was complaining about Iniesta being offside way after the final whistle but I saw nothing wrong with the goal.
Anyway the greatest hero of the day turned out to be the 8 legged Paul who “predicted” the win. The World’s new Oracle had found more followers. Spain have shed their tag of under achievers and can look to a place among Footballs great teams in the coming years but for that they have to remember that a team’s greatness depends on the Goals they score not for looking pretty in mid-field.