Spain 1, Netherlands 0: A Look Back

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It wasn't quite Good triumphing over Evil, but in some ways it felt that way.

Spain joined the list of teams to win the World Cup and proved every bit the deserving champion after winning an ugly, physical and extremely tough match against a strong Netherlands side. As much as the Dutch tried to make it a physical battle and wear down their opponent, Spain just kept on coming and eventually found the goal it deserved.

Yes, referee Howard Webb lost control to some degree, but he didn't determine the winner. Spain's approach and the Netherlands' approach determined the outcome, and if anything, Webb kept it from being a more lop-sided win for Spain after failing to send off Nigel de Jong for his Karate Kick to the chest of Xabi Alonso.

Here is my take on Sunday's World Cup Final for Fox Sports, which praises Spain for being deserved champions. Can anybody really argue against Spain being a fitting champion?

Here are some more thoughts on Sunday's Final:

Cesc Fabregas made a tremendous impact as a substitute and you can't help but wonder how Spain would have looked with a fully healthy Fabregas and Fernando Torres.

Arjen Robben will have nightmares about his World Cup final performance. He had a handful of quality chances but couldn't convert any of them.

After seeing Germany's win against Uruguay, I can't help but think Germany was the second-best team at this World Cup.

Sunday was a forgettable night for the Netherlands, but goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenberg enjoyed another strong showing and removed any doubt about being the Dutch team's goalkeeper of the present and future.

I thought Howard Webb did a decent job, with the red card miss on de Jong's chest stomp the biggest miscue. The second yellow on Johnny Heitinga was deserved, and while you can argue that Carles Puyol could have been sent off for his late challenge on a Robben breakaway, the fact is Robben still had every opportunity to finish the play and didn't.

Anybody else excited for Euro 212? Can't wait to see Germany get even better, and I'm anxious to see if Spain can repeat.

I will offer my final take on the World Cup on SBI on Tuesday before making my return to the United States, so keep an eye out for that.

For now, what did you think of the World Cup Final? Have you had a chance to watch it again? Who impressed you the most? Still sad to see the World Cup end?

Share your thoughts below.

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136 Responses to Spain 1, Netherlands 0: A Look Back

  1. Matthew Eison says:

    It seems like every game for Spain you could say, well the goal they scored was crap, but they sure did pass pretty, so yeah, they deserved to win.

  2. john.q says:

    looking back i wish Webb gave De Jong that red card, expelling him to the hell of eternal World Cup infamy. he deserves that much after all of his bullish, rash play.

  3. Adam says:

    There is no way you can say Heitinga deserved that yellow after looking at a replay. Iniesta, as he did all match, went down like he was shot after being lightly touched on the shoulder. He was not pulled down and it’s a shame that Iniesta’s simulation was rewarded and setup the win.

  4. RK says:

    How useless was van Persie this World Cup? I’m shocked that people aren’t complaining about him more. As for that possible Puyol card — awful anticipation on that ball to cause him to get behind. That never should’ve happened.

  5. Smirking Kitten says:

    I couldn’t agree more. In my opinion, Huntelaar is more of a pure striker who always takes his chances well. I wish he had received more opportunities in this World Cup, especially in the final.

  6. Adriano says:

    I understand that people are upset about the loss, but Heitinga himself thought he fouled Iniesta. And that would be because he impeded a clear chance on goal after he was handily beat.

    A lot of “embellishment” is directly caused by an official not protecting players. Players sell contact because they are sick of being hacked and tackled illegally.

    Robben played on, end of story. He then proceeded to lose the ball when he certainly could have scored.

  7. justwatchin' says:

    I agree…Germany (with Muller) was the 2nd best team but that blown yellow card call represented the overall ‘devastating’ officiating of the cup. Thank goodness Webb reigned it in a little in the final- he tried to keep it flowing.

    A call on Puyol would have ignited a firestorm as De Jong got away with his blatant red card offense and Van Bommel’s un-punished fouls got Iniesta’s sense of justice fuming. Since Dejong didn’t get thrown out, Puyol was given the benefit of doubt…Robben could still have scored- but didn’t.

    Fabregas works as a great sub in that system. When the speedy wingers have worn out the opponenets with all their criss-crossing, Fabregas comes in and slices ‘n dices with his cheeky but brilliant moves stright through the middle. A nice tactical change. Plus he’ll get his chance next go-around when Xavi’s gone.

  8. Joe G says:

    The Spanish team is the soccer’s version of the 90’s Devils. Ugly soccer can win the World Cup. If the US could learn how to play possession there is no reason to think they couldn’t win too. Germany and Uruguay made a better final then Spain and Netherlands.

  9. Joe B. NYC says:

    Howard Webb did a decent job? that’s a joke right? What happened to that denied corner? I’m sure the Dutch were still figuring that one out when Spain scored.

  10. Niccollo says:

    im just gonna build a board with wheels for iniesta to lay on for the entire match.. that way he doesnt have to trouble himself with getting up all the time… poor guy.. but what do i know?! i was only born in eindhoven :( maybe in 2018 ya?

  11. Aquaman says:

    Who else is excited to watch the French in 2012?……..No? Guess I’m the only one.

  12. Niccollo says:


  13. Adriano says:

    The only person responsible for that goal are the Netherlands.

    A missed call, prior to a complete reset of play (goal kick), has nothing to do with anything that happens after that reset.

  14. Kevin_Amold says:

    Oh, but there is a way! I completely agreed with the second yellow (after several replays), and I think significant portions of viewers would agree. Many won’t. That’s life.

    Methinks you are a little anti-Spanish.

  15. KCB says:

    I’m excited for Gold Cup 2011! USA!

  16. Smirking Kitten says:

    For me, Italy is the team to watch. They had a ton of young emerging talent this World Cup that can use this experience going forward. Cannavaro, Gattuso, Pirlo, Camoranesi…mark my words, these will be the stars of 2012 and beyond.

  17. jig says:

    spain and ugly soccer should never be in the same sentence. You must be kidding.

  18. Super Chivo says:

    De Jong is shite, anyone complaining about any diving or lack of calls on the Spanish has to take that one first. Straight red and I wish that SOB the worst for the future.

  19. tony says:

    I happen to think Italy are on the way down due to their philosophy of picking old players. Germany to me are going to win the next world cup. Brazil world cup will be amazing compared to this.

  20. JS says:

    Ives, you can’t excuse Webb’s failure to dismiss Puyol by saying that Robben should’ve converted the chance.
    You’re blaming the raped for wearing slutty clothes instead of blaming the rapist for raping.

  21. SEB says:

    Just a reminder. De Jong is the thug that broke Holden’s ankle in the friendly with the US. Nothing new about his, Heitinga’s or Van Bommel’s approach to the game.

  22. Raymon says:

    Ives wrote: “It was also a victory for creative soccer over negative and cynical soccer.”

    So can we define what makes “negative and cynical” soccer? I would agree that the Dutch approach to the final was negative and cynical and that the Spanish were definitely the creative side and deserving winners. But I would hope that teams that are defense minded are not automatically branded as “negative and cynical”.

    Is it the fouls that makes a side cynical and negative?

    Was Uruguay “cynical” for that hand ball in the Ghana game?

    Was Dunga’s Brazil “negative” but not cynical?

    If the laws of the game determine wins by counting goals, then isnt it acceptable to try to stop goals by all legal means? If a side is outclassed by their more talented opponents, what other choice do they have than to remain compact and organized on the defense, try to break the attack, and rely on a counterattack?

    Again, I agree that Spain deserve to be champions. It would be helpful to define what “negative and cynical” means vs. a focus on defense.

    (SBI-Raymon, there’s a world of difference between focusing on defense and making your whole approach to foul repeatedly. Did the USA need a hack-fest to beat Spain last summer? Did Switzerland hack away to beat Spain in the opener? Nope.

    Even Holland’s coach admitted he wasn’t happy with the way his team devolved into a team that simply hacked rather than focused on defending and playing soccer.

    And seriously, how people are trying to somehow tie the Dutch team’s display in the final with Luis Suarez’s handball is absurd and a weak stretch. apples and oranges folks.)

  23. A.S. says:

    Good vs. Evil? Really??

    It seems to me that the commentary on the Dutch team has really gotten out of hand. They were not “evil” and it really is sad if anyone even “in some ways it felt that way”.

    The Dutch played a tough, physical brand of soccer — the type of soccer that is ideally suited to beat a team that plays like the Spaniards. Yes, they committed fouls, as all teams do. But, for the most part (i.e., other than the DeJong shocker), they were appropriately called on their fouls and booked for the more egregious offenses. That is, they suffered exactly the form of punishment called for by the rules.

    Moreover, it is hard to take seriously anyone who criticizes the Dutch for their play if they did not similarly criticize Luis Suarez for his handball. If you believe in the general principle that one should not be criticized for fouling *if the referee appropriately punishes the foul*, then the Dutch fouling was simply no different than the Suarez foul.

    Sure, to the extent that you think that soccer is some kind of art form meant to simply please our aesthetic sensibilities, the Dutch can be criticized. As can the Suarez handball, of course. But IMO it is unfair to hold the Dutch to a standard of aesthetics in the World Cup Final of all games. It was a game to be won, by any means necessary within the rules of the game.

    (BTW, I say this a someone who was rooting for *Spain* yesterday. The egregious criticism of the Dutch is just not fair.)

  24. Aquaman says:

    At Fading Meadows retirement village

  25. Joe B. NYC says:


  26. Brian says:

    Me too. I’m excited to see if Davies is going to be back for that, as well as who our new up and coming players will be. I’m also curious as to see if Bocanegra (age 31), Cherundolo (age 31), or DeMerit (age 30) will still be around. Neither of them have officially retired internationally like McBride, Pope, Reyna, Friedel, etc. did, but I could see them sticking around if there are injuries or people aren’t getting time.

    For example if Spector is still sucking hard like he was doing for West Ham this season or isn’t getting playing time, I could definitely see Dolo still playing in the Gold Cup. Hell the way that Dolo played this World Cup, I wouldn’t be shocked for him to see him in Brazil for 2014. Spector seems to be the heir to the right back throne, but if Dolo is still fit and getting time, and the other right back options like Kevin Alston, Marvell Wynne, Sean Franklin, Eric Lichaj, and Frank Simek haven’t panned out then I think a 35 year old Dolo could at least be a substitute. Frankie Hejduk is 35 and he can still run with the best of them, and Dolo has always been a better all around player than him.

    Bocanegra and DeMerit sticking around for 2014 seems a whole lot less likely, but if next year Onyewu isn’t getting playing time, Clarence Goodson is still playing in Norway, Chad Marshall isn’t back to his MLS Best Defender form, and Ike Opara/Omar Gonzalez/Tim Ream aren’t quite ready yet, then I could see both Boca and DeMerit playing in the Gold Cup.

  27. Len says:

    I’ve seen a lot of discussion regarding Iniesta’s diving or embellishment of fouls but I still think that his incredible skill on the ball deserves to be mentioned as counterpoint. he’s a mousy looking guy who has the ball on a string.

    What could De Jong be doing out there? I thought the Holden challenge was a nightmare but studs up in the middle of Alonzo’s chest! In the friendly he didn’t see red (“Oh, it’s only just a friendly”). In the World Cup he doesn’t see red (“Oh, it’s the World Cup”). Give me a break! Shouldn’t thugs reap the reward of thuggish behavior? There are some very unfortunate aspects to the game as played at the elite level, the whining and diving, “professional” fouls and referee baiting, but plays that have the potential to change or end careers should be dealt with appropriately.

  28. Eric says:

    I didnt see the foul.

  29. Eugene says:

    Agreed. I thought the Dutch played well, but in the end were outplayed. De Jong and Van Bommel played physically to counter Iniesta and Xavi, and the strategy worked for 116 minutes.

    Minus the karate kick on Alonso, I don’t think anything deserved a red in this match and I think there were some rather soft yellows, including some for no contact or light contact.

    No way Puyol deserved a red.

    I’m happy the ref for the most part let the teams play and settle the affair on the field. Fewer yellow cards would have been better, but they didn’t impede the game until Heitinga was sent off.

    Absolutely nothing wrong with how the Dutch played. I also strongly believe Netherlands was the 2nd best team in this tournament. The Germans didn’t last 116 minutes against the Spaniards, and wouldn’t have even with Muller. They had no one to sufficiently counteract Iniesta and Xavi, and certainly Ozul is no where near on par with Sneijder. In the end, the Dutch negated David Villa and largely negated Iniesta and Xavi, as well as Spain’s outside backs. It was a pretty even match. Sure Spain had more of the possession on a percentage basis, but they do a lot of sideways passing in the midfield that eats up time and generates higher numbers for them. Spain had 6 shots on goal vs. Netherlands 5. Hardly a dominant measure in actual scoring opportunities.

  30. JP says:

    Spain were deserving winner.

    But who would think that the only undefeated team in this world cup would be…. NEW ZEALAND?? :)

  31. Len says:

    I’ll go one step further on the De Jong discussion. I think Holden’s broken leg may have had a significant effect on the US effort. Here is a talented player who has just broken int an EPL lineup, starting the previous 2 games, even serving their corner kicks etc.
    It is possible that with 6 weeks of starting or significant PT with Bolton, he not only gains invaluable experience but also potentially enough soccer credibility to gain increased World Cup PT. If so it’s another skilled player on the field (possibly pushing Dempsey up to where he belonged IMO, possibly putting Findley on the bench). Obviously no way to know now but maybe Holden does something in the World Cup instead of 4 minutes. Hopefully he will do well on his return to Bolton but I would argue that his injury due to a very questionable tackle was as important in it’s own way as any.

  32. golfstrom says:

    I don’t know about you, but I prefer my soccer to be of the not constant fouling and no karate kicks to the chest variety. De Jong and MVB are basically thugs. Plus they are such whiny losers, and are all blaming the ref for the loss.

    “They didn’t want the ball and regrettably, sadly, they played in a very dirty fashion. So much so that they should have been down to nine immediately, then they made two such ugly and hard tackles that even I felt the damage.”

    — Johan Cruyff

  33. Pico says:

    Holland was caught in a bad situation. They knew they could not afford to play an open game against Spain because they would never see the ball themselves and would spend the day chasing after it.

    Instead they decided to take a page out of the Swiss book to try to disrupt possession, but unfortunately they took that too far. Two of the worst thugs in world soccer – Van Bommel and De Jong – lived up to their reputation and they should thank Webb for not sending them out early on and left their team at a disadvantage.

    For those complaining about the diving, that practice started in the 70s because the skilled South American players were being mauled by the Europeans and the referees were letting the play continue. In a sense it has become a counter measure to try to dissuade the culprits from those tactics.

    If Holland had decided to play the skilled game of its players you would not have seen all that diving and theatrics. But the chance is that they might have lost the game anyway.

    If the ref that given the red cards to Van Bommel and De Jong in the first 25 minutes, you would not have seen the diving either. And Holland would have lost the game anyway.


  34. Grant says:

    Such a boring final. I hate watching a team pass the ball 5 yards to each other, while creating no real chances until extra time. If that is the “proper” way to play football, I hope more teams continue to not try and copy spain.

    (SBI-You’ve got a sad view of the game my friend.)

  35. DC Josh says:

    Spain absolutely deserve to be champions. They dominate play like no other country. They didn’t even play their best football and they are still world champions. How many countries can say that? Could their “tip-tap” passing be the future of football superpowers? I say yes.

    I believe this World Cup has brought in a shift in the tides. Brazil has some serious work to get ready for 2014, especially since they’ll miss out on qualifying. Team play has taken precedent over individual talent. There is an amazing collection of young talent that has emerged in this world cup. Argentina, Germany, Spain and even Mexico have a core of world-class youngsters.

    The future is bright for world football. I am sad the World Cup is over. But time heals and major European club action kicks off in a month. I have all ready started saving $20 a week for Brazil 2014. Vamos la voce Yanks!

  36. Nats says:

    The statement that Robben “still had every opportunity to finish the play” when he was grabbed from behind by Puyol is absolutely ridiculous. What ignorance! What bias! Give us a break!

  37. DC Josh says:

    I would counter by saying Van Bommel’s tackle from behind on Iniesta should have deserved a sending off. If Iniesta’s left foot was planted, his leg would have been split in two.

  38. Caesar Augustus says:

    After reading your Fox article, Ives, I disagree with your assessment of Navas. Besides merely bringing good energy, he made great use of the space on the wings and had many dangerous crosses. I thought far too much of Spain’s play went through the middle during this World Cup and that they sorely missed true wide players like Navas to provide quality crosses into the box. Moreover, while everyone focuses on how negatively the Dutch played, Spain played with practically the same formation…one striker and two defensive midfielders. I wish Spain had started only one holding midfielder and found a place for Fabregas and Navas from the beginning. Regardless, they are the deserved victors and the doubtlessly the best team in the world.

    (SBI-Many dangerous crosses? When did those happen exactly? I remember watching Xavi yell at Navas twice for dribbling into bad spots. His energy was helpful, and his run forward started the sequence that led to the goal (though he actually lost the ball before Iniesta got it and back-heeled it). He wasn’t bad, but not nearly the impact Cesc had.

    As far as Spain being too defensive, when both your fullbacks spend most of the match getting forward, it’s not really a defensive formation. Also, Busquets moves well as a central midfielder and is hardly just a sit-back tackler.)

  39. Caesar Augustus says:

    *and doubtlessly the best team in the world. typo.

  40. John says:

    i did

  41. grant says:

    Due to the fact that I enjoy an open game with lots of scoring opportunities? Germany was by far the best team in this tournament to watch. Every one of Spain’s games put me to sleep. I wasn’t in “awe” of the “masterful” skill of a player passing to another player who is open five yards away. Just my take on the Spain’s tournament, though I can’t knock the results/effectiveness. For every team winning is what matters, so in that aspect have to admire Spain for their accomplishment, while I don’t have to admire the way they play.

    (SBI-Grant, Germany was great at counterattacking with speed and precision, a style that works against teams that defend sloppily and aren’t organized. That can lead to some great soccer to watch, but is that really better soccer game to game? Would you call the Germany-Ghana game a memorable game? How about Germany-Serbia?

    The point is Germany is just like Spain in that unless the opponent LETS them do what they do best, the game will not be that attractive. Germany beat a weak Australia then whipped two teams in England and Argentina who were perfectly suited for their counterattacking style. They also had forgettable performances against Serbia, Ghana and Spain, where they couldn’t do the things you enjoy so much.)

  42. John says:

    stay on subject much?

  43. Joe B. NYC says:

    I think if the ref awarded Holland the corner kick like he was supposed to. Holland would’ve had a chance. People are typing here as if Spain scored in the 15th minute…

  44. John says:


  45. IDman says:

    As I stated before, you could have crowned Spain as the champions before the Germany and Holland matches. About 70% of the people on these threads are just pure amateurs when it comes to soccer. Germany wins 4-0 and all of a sudden they will win it all. What a joke. And Holland defeats Uruguay- and Spain have no chance. Some of you guys are smoking something good. Do you meatheads know anything about the game? Do you watch and study the game? I can answer that with an emphatic, NO!!!

  46. Grant says:

    My argument is not that Spain played “bad” soccer, rather that their style is just plain boring. Effective, yes, but boring. If the Netherlands was able to put home one of their breakaways, forcing Spain to open up, the game would have changed entirely. Yet that didn’t happen, and Spain continued to play their form of a defensive shell (keeping the ball at midfield passing it around, all while not advancing/playing probing balls). This forces the other team to play rough, in order to get the ball back. The Final was always going to be ugly, which I find sad since it was the biggest game in the biggest sporting event, a game which I have anticipated for years.

  47. Pico says:

    The way the teams played the game was established by the ref’s decisions in the first 30 minutes of the game. Everything snowballed from then on. So both Spain and Holland were affected by it.

    If you really wanted to have the right call on the corner kick, you should also demand the right call for the early Dutch fouls. It is very easy to pick and choose the bad calls that take place during a game and affect your team.


  48. IDman says:

    You see for example team A beat team B by six goals and then team C, who lost to team B by three goals, defeated team A. It happens all the time in qualifying. You dopes see a team win by a large margin and think that team will win the WC. People who think like this are pure novices of the game but pretend to know what they are talking about.

  49. Joe B. NYC says:

    I’m sure you’re including Puyol’s Red card offense hugging up of Robben too, right?

  50. IDman says:

    Spain was the best team and they had to take a lot of BS fouls from hackers like De Jong, who should have been given a double sending off and an attempted murder charge,

  51. IDman says:

    The referee was probably instructed to follow FIFA’s instructions, just as the referee in the U.S. vs Ghana game was instructed to let the Ghanaians hack away, dive and pretend they were injured. Ghana could have played Brazil and FIFA would have done everything possible to give the game to Ghana. Learn a little about the game before typing nonsense.

  52. CJ in OC says:

    Ives is on a twitter frenzy–but eh, no need to apologize.

    What’s up with this? believable? I have my doubts.
    link to

  53. Adam M. says:

    I think your critique is shortsighted. Spain essentially plays defense by keeping the ball in the opponent’s half (as opposed to you know, defending) and their quick passes mean they have the ability to strike at any moment. Lots of teams combat that by sitting back and trying to counterattack, as the Netherlands did sucessfully but for Robben’s misses. That approach makes Spain seem “boring” only as long as the defense holds, but that’s not Spain’s fault. Would you rather they take unnecessary chances and make unforced errors just to keep the possession figures more even?

  54. Brian says:

    Ives said he was excited for Euros, and the guy above me said he was excited for the Gold Cup

  55. Adam M. says:

    Still convinced that Brazil would have won the whole thing but for missing the injured Elano against the Netherlands. Elano would have replaced Melo in the starting XI, better controlled possession, and allowed for more scoring opportunities. My argument going into the tournament was that Inter beat Barca because they had 3/5 of Brazil’s defense and that Brazil would beat Spain because they had 5/5 of Brazil’s defense. Given Spain’s inability to break down the Dutch, I still feel Brazil would have taken them.

  56. Aristophanes says:

    I don’t think that the view that Spain doesn’t play the most exciting soccer is unwarranted.

    True, their skill on the ball is incredible to watch, and that has a beauty of its own, but while to some it may be mesmerizing, I can see how to others it might be a bit boring. Precisely what you say, Adam, Spain defend by keeping the ball. But what that means (at least with Spain), is that they are not always attacking. They almost hesitate to take chances (see Iniesta on numerous occasions yesterday), and often seem content to pass the ball in midfield triangles for 45 minutes.

    A team like Argentina, though, when they get the ball they head straight for goal and try to score, pretty much every possession. That’s why the Germany-Argentina game was so exciting, but it’s also why Argentina lost. Because Germany was better organized on defence and were exceptionally quick on the counter.

    I don’t dislike the Dutch style as epitomized, oddly enough, by this Spanish team. It’s progressive and proactive and attacking, which is better than a lot of other teams. But it’s not the same as or as exciting as the classic joga bonito.

  57. Aristophanes says:


  58. marden08 says:

    The notion that it was proper for the referee to “manage the game” by not giving deJong a red card and keeping both teams at 11 is lubricous. What ,would TV ratings have gone down? This sounds almost like Juventus thinking before they bribe officials .I am sure they wanted to “manage the game”

    DeJong should have gotten a red card for the most blatant red car ever and the game would have been over at 25 or so minutes. Would somebody please tell me what more absurd thing could be done to “manage a game”.

  59. justwatchin' says:

    not sure what the ref’s line of sight was but those kind of deflections are missed about 40% of the time as refs don’t have the luxury of 15 different tv angles. I hate to say it but those kind of calls are part of the game. good players know that some go their way and some don’t…you just have to play on. a bit lucky- of course but that will never go away.

    And I thought Webb did a decent job- not good or great, but how pissed off would everyone be if he called it tight (as many other refs would have) where DeJong was sent off and then Van Bommel almost assuredly before the end of the 1st half? He tried to let things get a little physical but the Dutch took it too far & then, of course, the other team will react and embellish.

    I think it was Cruyff who said it best…something along the lines of ‘Spain are deserved Champions because they were the ones who went after the ball’.

  60. Duck says:

    A fit Holden would have given Feilhaber a run for his money as “the guy who comes in when Dempsey moves up top”

  61. Joe B. NYC says:

    No. I don’t think that Spain was ‘forced’ into their play-acting. Also, Puyol should have been sent off as well, and somehow, despite the rep the Robben has for being a diver (and I do think it’s well deserved) he didn’t dive. He went after the ball. This game wasn’t as black and white as the Spain/’beautiful barthelona futbol’ people are making it out to be…

  62. Pico says:

    Dude! What about “So both Spain and Holland were affected by it” don’t you understand?

    You are just grasping at straws here. Let me try to be as simple as possible:

    If the ref starts calling the game as he should have from minute one, Holland would have been down to at least 10 players if not 9 from very early in the game. How do you think it would fare against a full Spanish team then, if it had to recourse to rough tactics just to have a chance with all 11?

    From that perspective we would be looking at a completely different game and there might no be a Puyol pull on Robben or dives or who knows what.

    That is what you need to understand. If you are going to complain about the calls that went against you, you also have to complain about the ones that benefited you. In this case, the non calls.

    It is the proverbial “You cannot have your cake and eat it too”.


  63. Ruud Gullit says:

    The Spanish tiki-taka, keep away style is the equivalent of the slowdown basketball there used to be in college before the advent of the shot clock in the 1985-86 season. North Carolina used to use their four corners offense to win games like 34-28. Look at Spain’s record in this cup, they have four 1-0 wins in a row and didn’t really blow anyone away.

    All those people who are blaming Holland for a negative final should realize it’s mostly because Spain’s style usually requires the other team to foul them to get the ball.

    Spain is the ultimate defensive team. The other team can’t score if you always have the ball and, by chasing the Spaniards all over the field, you get too tired to play your regular game.

    One reason why the US beat them was because we scored early and thus did not really have to chase the ball. If Robben scores on that first breakway ( and he certainly should have) or even the second one, Holland win the World Cup. People forget that the Dutch can play keep away as well. Ultimately, the Dutch just did not have enough faith in themselves

    The Spaniards also don’t believe in wing play much and keep going right down the middle. So there aren’t a lot of exciting goal attempts. Spain are fun to watch mostly because Xavi, Iniesta, Villa and Torres (when he’s healthy) are fun to watch but a lesser team playing this style would probably be pretty ugly and boring.

    The US can’t play this style right now, not because we can’t maintain possession ( we have lots of guys who can pass sideways with the best of them) but because

    the style requires a deadly final pass and someone who can do something with it. Spain has Xavi, Xabi Alonso and Iniesta to deliver the pass and Villa (possibly the best in

    the world currently), Iniesta and Torres to do something with it. We don’t even have players who can compare to Pedro or Navas.

    The Spanish players are good enough to make the ugly soccer ( along with their acting and diving) they play good looking.

  64. Eric_the_King says:

    I saw it. First glance I thought it was a weak call. The replay proved me wrong. You don’t have to yank a guys shoulder off for it to be a foul. Heitinga got beat, pulled back Iniesta’s shoulder a bit when he could have been clear on goal. What’s there to argue?

  65. Asamoah Gyan says:

    Uruguay – Germany was a semi exhibition game with little or any pressure on anyone. You can’t compare it to the final, which was probably the most important game of their lives for everyone on both teams.

    If the final had been Uruguay-Germany, it could have been just as ugly if not more so.

  66. Eric_the_King says:

    +10 …. RvP was poor all cup. He made very little positive impact for his squad

  67. Josh says:

    I also thought RvP was poor, but some of that must have to do with Sneijder’s inability or unwillingness to pass the ball to him. As tall as RvP is, I don’t recall too many crosses into his general vicinity. Also, I can’t find the stats right now, but apparently Sneijder only passed the ball to RvP 19 times during the entire tournament.

    Some of that may be lack of movement or an inability to get open on RvP’s part, but I wonder how much of it was Sneijder’s fault as well.

  68. Joe B. NYC says:

    First of all, I don’t know about you, but no English ref is going to give the game to Spain in the 15th minute. Sorry dude.

    Second of all, so what if De Jong was sent off. He is one of two defensive midfielders. And the hole ‘two of then should have been sent off’ is a pipe dream. Also, Van Persie was ineffective anyway, and wouldn’t have been missed. And again, I didn’t see Spain score right away when De jerk came off…

    Thirdly, please don’t try to tell me how the game would have went this way or that. I’m talking about how the game went in this universe, and Spain scored while Holland had to play while trying to figure out WTF happened to their corner. OK? That’s MY argument.

    If the game ended 3-1 Spain, then there would be no debate.

  69. S.Holden says:

    Every ref misses calls. Webb was faced with a completely out of control Dutch team who could have finished with 7-8 men. If Webb had played it by the book you might have seen the game finish with 17 players on the field.

    Still Webb could have done better and should have thrown, De Jong and Van Bommel out..then everyone would have accused him of ruining the game.

    Being a ref sucks.

  70. Eric_the_King says:

    Seriously? I’ve seen a lot of misinformed comments, but this one takes the cake. So many people are asking for a Puyol red card and I can’t see why. Webb allowed advantage to play, which in turn let Robben have a clear goal-scoring opportunity. THIS JUST IN: A one on one with a goalkeeper is a clear goal-scoring opportunity. I want a t-shirt with Robben’s picture on it with the word FAIL. Just because Robben fails to score doesn’t mean the play gets brought back, foul given, or show a red. The Dutch were given the opportunity and missed. Play on.

    And the “rape” reference is bad form.

  71. SeattleStan says:

    Like I’ve said earlier, if it wasn’t for Iniesta, I would actually really like the Spanish team. But wow, I was just waiting for one of the standard statistics they show up of how much everyone has run, but instead it could be the total minute count Iniesta was on the ground.

  72. Eric_the_King says:

    How is it a pipe dream that 2 players getting sent off is far-fetched? If Webb took a more strict line instead of trying to let the game flow (which I was fine with), then De Jong and Van Bommel should have seen red in the first half.

    Puyol doesn’t see red because Robben broke free and ran on goal only to blow his chance. You don’t give a red because the Dutch were allowed their goal-scoring opportunity. You can go back after the play and give a yellow, but not a red.

    I can see why people are frustrated by the missed corner kick call for the Dutch, but if you’ve played the game long enough then you should know that sometimes those calls happen. But yes, it was crappy that it came at such a crucial time. However, it did not directly result in the Spain goal.

  73. Jeff Agoos says:

    Only because I believe that tournament winner gets to play in the Confederations Cup in Brazil in 2013. As we saw this year, that will be invaluable in prepping us for 2014.

    Because of the age of our players it will also be a transition time for the team. It will be fascinating to see who will stay from the old guard and who the new guys will be.

  74. Eric_the_King says:

    If it’s crosses that you’re looking for, then Sneijder really can’t be the one to point at since he’s playing a central role behind RvP. I’d be looking at Robben and Kuyt. Robben just puts his head down and tries to do almost everything on his own. If anything, he’s beating players and should be putting balls in. Instead, he beats players and then wants to beat 3 more since he has no right foot. Kuyt didn’t get forward as much because he seemed to be filling a more defensive role on most occasions, but could have provided more service.

    Still, to your point, that’s a pretty alarming stat if it’s true.

  75. Daniel says:

    Sadly, many here are the cause of soccer not growing as it should. Some people just can’t appreciate when a team wants to play soccer. The best team won; if you have any doubts look at the scoreboard.

  76. patrick says:

    this is apropos of nothing but, Vincenzo bernardo has officially sunk to the level that makes me feel sorry for him. This was a tweet today


    Just got back from a nice run. 3rd and 4th div Italian teams are interested. Updates will come, I just wanna start playin and scoring goals!

    THIS is where going abroad is detrimental. This kid didn’t play all of last season really because he couldn’t find a club, trialed with kansas city and I assume wouldn’t accept their contract (or wasn’t good enough, who knows no one’s ever seen him play a game) and maybe san jose and then i think he was in rochester for a bit, AND now he’s talking to 3rd and 4th division sides??? Get yourself an MLS contract, you’re an attacking player with some experience in europe, you’ll do well and probably getting a nice transfer. I can’t imagine that someone who’s played at the u 17 and u20 level can’t cut it in a trial to get an mls contract at the age of 20. His insistence on playing in italy is going to cost this young man his career in my opinion.

  77. mike says:

    If Puyol should have been carded then von Bommel was guilty of the same infraction on Xavi Alonzo in the box at about minute 48. Shoulder to the back… no call. Good for the gander , good for the goose!

  78. Grant says:

    I can appreciate that Spain won the game. But to say that because I don’t like the style which Spain plays because I don’t appreciate soccer is false. I’m sure there are plenty of teams which play a style which you don’t enjoy. Why am I wrong if I personally don’t like the “tip-tap” 5 yard pass laterally style of play? Spain is a great team, a world/european champion which I respect.

    They play a boring style, yet that doesn’t mean I like soccer any less than the next person, I personally just can’t stand the Barcelona/Spain style. Due to the fact that every person in the media is heaping praise on Spain, people seem to ignore the fact that the game was boring, and Spain had a role to play in this. The style which they play force teams to make an ugly game in order to win. Spain is just as much a party of the lame final as the Netherlands. The Spanish style created that ugly final, sorry you can’t turn off your “purist” blinders and realize that.

  79. Marcus says:

    Wouldn’t his shoulder have to move backwards if it were pulled? EVERYONE saw it more than once, so the fact that people have come to different conclusions means there is obviously a point to argue/disagree about…

  80. Jermaine says:

    Not as important as the ones to Jones,Onyewu, and Davies, in that order.

    Holden is promising but still basically an unproven bit player.

  81. Blanco says:

    “For those complaining about the diving, that practice started in the 70s because the skilled South American players were being mauled by the Europeans and the referees were letting the play continue. In a sense it has become a counter measure to try to dissuade the culprits from those tactics.”

    Now there’s a rationalization for you!

    Did you ever see Estudiantes, Racing Club or Penarol from that time period play? Europeans of the time were plenty dirty but the South Americans took a backseat to no one when it comes to dirty play.

  82. VB11 says:


    It’s just a crying shame we didn’t all have you to tell us what to do with our lives when were were younger. The world would now be such a better place.

    VB10 obviously should have consulted with you before he dreamt of playing in Italy. Silly Boy!

  83. Where is your says:

    In something like the first 5 seconds of the Slovenia – US game, Clint Dempsey elbowed some Slovenian player in the head. I was sure Clint was gone but the ref did not even card Dempsey. From that moment on it seems like the players took their cues from this ref and the game got real chippy.

    I remember it as the start of all these chippy games and controversial refereeing decisions.

    While I’m not a condescending, rabid conspiracy theorist like you, I subscribe to a “lighter” version.

    The scenario you describe requires too much work from an organization as stupid and lazy as FIFA. It makes more sense to think that the game has gotten too fast and hectic for even the best referees and their crews. However,FIFA are just too incompetent, unmotivated and lazy to do anything about it. Like many sporting institutions ( see the NCAA) there are a lot of people who are invested in things staying just the way they are, hence the institutional inertia.

  84. Daniel says:

    So it’s Spain’s fault that the other teams are scared of them and decide to park the bus and/or take them down by any means. If the other teams tried to play offensively then the games wouldn’t be boring. What is Spain supposed to do when their opponents defend with 9 or 10 players? Exciting soccer only happens when both teams are willing to attack, but apparently they are just to scared of Spain.

  85. Ifonly says:

    If Japan had followed up the Pearl Harbor attack by hunting down our carriers and then invading Orange County maybe we’d all be driving Hondas and Toyotas and using Nikons and Canons now.

    I’m sure of it.

  86. JCruyff says:

    “So it’s Spain’s fault that the other teams are scared of them and decide to park the bus and/or take them down by any means.”

    Sure it’s their fault. By playing the way they do they have to expect that teams will do what Holland did, though maybe not as nasty. The only two teams who have beaten them in a million years have done so by doing a variation of what you described.

    What saved the US game from being as ugly was that we scored in the 27th minute and did not have to chase the Spaniards all day. Instead they had to press us and when Dempsey scored in the second half, they were done because Spain isn’t built to come back quickly.

    You could argue that the Spanish basically bore you to death and then take advantage of the instant opposing defenders fall asleep. Soemone said this will trigger a change in how tams play. Sure it will, if you have a Xavi, an Iniesta and most of all, a David Villa. Otherwise, forget it.

    “Exciting soccer only happens when both teams are willing to attack, but apparently they are just to scared of Spain.”

    That’s not entirely true. The US-Spain game was exciting. The difference was the US was successful in their attempts and Robben missed his two shots. If Robben scores, Holland probably wins and I’ll bet you this is a lot more exciting game. I will agree that Holland should have tried to attack more but Spain denied them possesion.

  87. Daniel says:

    The US-Spain game was only excited as an American and Spanish fan. From a third point of view, it was a very boring game. And the fact that the US won does not mean the way played wasn’t ugly. Any realistic fan knows that although the US beat Spain that type of game only takes you to some point. If you want to go beyond you can’t just wait for your opponents. It isn’t just a coincidence that Brazil is the most successful team.

    Just like you said, that tactic has only worked for two teams, that clearly show that it doesn’t work.

  88. A-Lott says:

    A yellow for Puyol there would have been his second. He would have been sent off, and the Dutch would have been the team with the man advantage.

  89. A-Lott says:

    I disagree that the Spanish possession game is the future of international soccer. In my view, Spain play their game for the same reason a knuckle-ball pitcher throws the knuckler: he can’t be successful any other way. If Charlie Hough had a sizzling fastball and a knee-buckling curve, he wouldn’t have spent a lengthy career pushing the ball off his knuckles. Same for Spain. Guys like Xavi and Iniesta aren’t big enough, strong enough or fast enough to play soccer like Germany or Dunga’s Brazil. They play the short triangle passing game because that’s the only way they will be effective. Granted, they’re exceptionally good at that style of play and their core midfielders play together in Spain so they could find each other blindfolded. Still, players like Ozil aren’t going to devote themselves to the Spanish passing game because they have the physical ability to beat defenders in other ways.

  90. A-Lott says:

    Ignore it, dude. Every soccer forum I’ve ever read is flush with anonymous jerks berating other anonymous jerks using some formulation of “you know nothing about futbol/soccer/joga bonito!!!1!” Other sports threads don’t typically feature posters questioning their rivals’ basic understanding of the game. It’s as if an entire contingent of soccer fans think that following the world’s most popular sport somehow makes them special.

  91. Eric_the_King says:

    Fair enough. My mistake on not recognizing that. Personally, with the way Webb was calling the game, I think he stayed consistent in that circumstance. I could see arguments for either case though.

  92. Erik V says:

    to me there were two ugly fouls in this game. VanBommels tackle and DeJongs chest kick, and yes you could say those could have been red cards but they were not given, so end of story (even though even I and I’m Dutch think they would have deserved it).
    Just because the ref gave holland allot of cards does not mean they were dirty (except of the two fouls mentioned above). Van Bronckhorst and Kuyt got really soft yellow cards and Robben and Mathijsen got yellow for talking to the ref. Both cards for Heintinga were deserved but were not for nasty fouls.
    Spain had its fare share of fouls and sometimes were lucky not to get a yellow. They were also constantly harrasing the ref and asking for yellows.
    I think both teams played a scrappy game and for 117 minutes they were equal untill Spain scored a legit goal and won.
    So in the end there is nothing to complain. Spain beat Holland (my country) in the final and that is it.

    One more thing. Holland made it to the final and that is a great accomplishment. Holland has a great team and deserved to be in the final. Any one saying they did not deserve it is a complete hack in my mind.

  93. Erik V says:

    That is funny. Spain actually is a very compact and defensive team. Their strength is patience they keep passing the ball until they get one of the opponents players out of position and they take advantage of that situation. They were the lowest scoring team and the team with the least goals against for a reason…
    Spain was actually really sloppy in this game and really did not create much.
    People (including Ives) also forget to mention the Spain and Holland actually play a similar possession type of soccer. The Dutch too like to keep passing until the opponent makes a mistake. That is why the game was scrappy both teams wanted to dominate the ball were allot of teams are happy to sit back and counter. It actually surprises me no one mentions this (Ives?) as a cause for the game to be scrappy. You could say this was a clash of similar styles.
    I’m not saying Spain did not deserve the win. They are the team that scored so they deserve to be the new world champion. Even though I think we have not seen the best spain during this tournament.

  94. Adam M. says:

    Aren’t we all driving Hondas and Toyotas?

  95. Diego M. says:

    “A team like Argentina, though, when they get the ball they head straight for goal and try to score, pretty much every possession. That’s why the Germany-Argentina game was so exciting, but it’s also why Argentina lost. Because Germany was better organized on defence and were exceptionally quick on the counter.”

    Actually Spain and Argentina are very similar in that they both attack straight down the middle. Because of the talent both teams have, they are very scary when they do that. Otherwise, they are a mess.

    The main difference between the two teams is that Spain is more organized and disciplined. When they lose the ball, they are much better about getting it back quickly and are far better organized defensively. Argentina are about as organized as a pickup team in a Sunday league. The only reason to take them seriously is all that incredible talent they have.

  96. Erik V says:

    To me Both teams played a scrappy game and the reason holland tackled so much is not to disrupt the spanish but to get control of the ball. Everyone seems to forget that Holland style of play is also all about ball control. So when they do not have it they will hunt it down instead of sitting back. Expect of the two fouls by van Bommel and De Jong i did not see any other fouls that were out of control. Some were hard but like it or not that happens in every game. The fact is that this was the world cup final and Holland decided to not sit back and let Spain over run them. So what is wrong with that. There were plenty of hard fouls, dives and complaining to the ref from the spaniards as well but that seems to be ingored by every one….

    I would say those South American teams from the 70 had some butchers in it as well but hey I’m from Europe and Dutch so what do I know.

    See you in 128!

  97. DC Josh says:

    Good point about physical limitations, especially if you consider technical limitations. But Germany played a style very similar to Spain with their free flowing passing. Granted, it wasn’t to the extreme that Spain play, which bores their opposition to death.

    However, it would benefit teams in the future if they concentrate on being able to possess the ball like Spain. When a team comes out with a strategy to foul on purpose from the first whistle, you are doing something right.

  98. DC Josh says:

    Quit living in the past.

  99. Consigliere says:

    I have been referring to the way Spain played through the tournament as possession catenaccio. Their possession kept the other team from scoring, but they rarely threatened. Every attack going forward was destined to end in them losing the ball. Watching successful ticky-tack passing b/w defenders and midfielders is not entertaining when you know as soon as they are 35 yards from goal they will lose the ball.

    0-1,2-0,2-1,1-0,1-0,1-0,1-0. If I put that out without ID, you would say those are scores of Italy games and would crush them for their low-scoring and defensive attitude. Spain averaged 1.1 goals a game (8 in 7 matches).

    Even with their poor display in the semifinal, I believe Germany deserved to win the tournament.

  100. A Guest says:

    Well his hair was neatly gelled at all times, so he’s got that going for him.

  101. oscar_in_fw says:

    At first glance, Spain’s style looks boring. But if they are able to dominate possession and keep the opposing team from scoring, then I cannot really argue; especially since it takes supremely technically proficient players to play that system well.

    Spain generates lots of chances, often being only one pass (or defensive lapse) away from generating a clear scoring chance. The fact they are able to maintain possession in/near the opposing team’s boxes just increases their chances of eventually breaking through just like they did in the 116th minute.

    I would’ve loved to see them try to dominate possession against Brazil.

  102. Joe B. NYC says:

    THANK YOU!!!!

  103. Aristophanes says:

    I like that: “possession catennacio”.

  104. justwatchin' says:

    I don’t think they play acted. Spain reacted to the Dutch aggressively fouling. I think it would haven been different had Holland’s fouls ocurred while getting the ball. Instead it was clear they were not fighting for the ball- just fighting. And that’s why it got so ugly- regardless of the way Webb called it.

    Who knows if Puyol’s interference would have even existed had DeJong been properly ejected. But I agree Robben did fantastically to stay on his feet- I feel bad for the aptly-characterized diver. He seems to have chosen the absolute worse time to do the right thing and play through. Or was it that the interference was not egregious enough in the context of what was going on in the whole match?

    I agree…the scoreline could have gone either way. Though I doubt there would be many times where Ramos misses an uncontested header on goal and Villa shanks 2 point blank volleys (w/ Fabregas’ effort cancelling out Robben’s).

  105. Erik V says:

    Ives, Holland Evil really??
    You are calling Stekelenburg, Mathijsen, Van der Wiel, Hijtinga, van Bronkhorst, Robben, Kuyt, van Persie, van den Vaart, Elia, Huntelaar, Braafheid and Sneijder Evil because DeJong and van Bommel make two horrendous tackles over 117 minutes?? or were all the tackles by the dutch studs up or elbows to the face??

    Looks like you are being thought well over there at Fox. Throw in some crazy statement and ignore the truth. That my friend is very very sad. In your eyes Spain did not make any hard tackles did not do any diving or begging for cards?? In your eyes the front line of Spain was not totally ineffective against the Dutch defense that kept them at bay for 117 minutes? The only thing that matters to you is that Holland did not let your team play the way you want them to play? I bet you would have praised Uruguay for putting up a good fight if they were the ones playing against spain and let me tell you they would have played just as physical and “Evil” as the dutch.

  106. Edward Sasam says:

    Well, past all the blame games, dirty plays and bad officiating, the better team won no doubt and nobody can take that away from Spain.

  107. Erik says:

    What I love about all the articles like this one that are about the same all over is that Spain was the better team so they deserved to win.

    NOBODY ever mentions that Holland came into the game knowing they were going to have to foul and break up plays. Their game plan worked to PERFECTION…

    …until Robben missed a 1v1 with the keeper. The Dutch would have won the World Cup if Robben had made that shot and everyone would be praising how dogged and determined the Dutch played.

  108. Aaron in StL says:

    Anybody else seeing the Michael Bradley to Blackpool rumors? I was sure hoping that he’d be able to make the jump to a mid-table team. But who knows, not sure Blackpool could afford a full transfer, maybe MB just wants to get out of Germany

  109. Tom says:

    Don’t you think that had a little to do with the Netherland’s tactics?

  110. Erik says:

    What I love about all the articles like this one that are about the same all over is that Spain was the better team so they deserved to win.

    NOBODY ever mentions that Holland came into the game knowing they were going to have to foul and break up plays. Their game plan worked to PERFECTION…

    …until Robben missed a 1v1 with the keeper. The Dutch would have won the World Cup if Robben had made that shot and everyone would be praising how dogged and determined the Dutch played.

  111. Erik V says:

    So right now in “Evil” Holland half a million “Evil” fans came to Amsterdam to honor the “Evil” dutch national team. I’m sure Ives will call that show of support to “Evil” team a disgrace too.

  112. Tom says:

    Man, some of you really don’t know what you’re seeing. The US team could side pass and hold possession? LOL.
    The Spanish midfield is easily the best in the world, every team they play knows it, and refuses to try to outplay them. Xavi, Iniesta, Alonso, and Fabregas are amazing to watch. They are developed to the point that our basketball point guards are, and it will take generations for us to produce midfielders who can hold the ball like they can.

    Our midfielders can’t hold the ball as well as their defenders. That’s not because our midfielders aren’t pretty good. It’s because the Spain midfield is an all-time great midfield. Legendary. I feel sorry for those who can’t appreciate what they’re doing.

  113. Erik V says:

    Exactly! this blog has become and extension of the great FOX news net work. totally loosing any kind of objectiveness. Don’t blame the fans for expressing their feelings on this blog but I do blame the journalist for loosing the reality of the game in their love for Spain.

  114. Erik says:

    I can’t respond to who comes to this blog but a lot of the comments have become silly.

    I readily admit I thought Spain would go out in the Quarters and Brazil would win the World Cup, but there seems to be zero objectivity in the soccer media in this country.

    The Dutch played a hard nosed game and failed to score when they had their 1 real chance. Otherwise, Spain was frustrated and it wasn’t until Fabregas came in and the red card happened that they took control late.

    And yes, I think De Jong and Van Bommel are thuggish – but that’s their game. It’s an old school style that served players like Roy Keane, Edgar Davids and Gattuso very well over the years.

  115. Aristophanes says:

    I just read that. I think Gladbach is a better place to play, and MB is too good for a newly-promoted relegation-bound team. It’d be crazy for him to go there, don’t you think?

  116. Aaron in StL says:

    I bet they’re all terrorists

  117. Aaron in StL says:

    I would think so, unless he just wants to show other teams he can cut it in the EPL. Who knows, Blackpool could start out hot like Burnley last year, but almost always those teams fade down the stretch.

  118. Ifonly says:


    I’m patriotic and drive a classic AMC Pacer!

    We need to support American made products.

  119. ur trippin says:

    you are a lunatic. ask ricardo clark how easy it is to keep possession in the middle of the field.

    the ugly soccer was played by holland who packed it in and fouled like crazy. would you like to see spain pump balls into the ball for their 5 foot nothing players to try to get on the end of?

    do you realize that almost every team packs it in against spain because if they didn’t spain would exploit them for multiple goals? spain plays that way partly by choice, but also out of necessity and they are crazy good. to discredit their play is ridiculous

  120. davidaubudavid says:

    I am so surprised to see all of this about the dutch being hacks and what not. Everyone has known since the begin of time that de jong and van bommel were hacks. Outside of that who was bad?

    I also think the dutch were the second best team in the world cup. I enjoyed watching germany more, but when you watch the two games where they played the same opponent the dutch did much better. The dutch had more possession and scoring opportunities against the spanish than probably all of their previous opponents. No team played the spanish as evenly as the dutch did.

  121. JCruyff says:

    Well it’s funny you say that because I’m not Dutch nor am I Spanish and I nearly fell asleep for long stretches of the game.

    “Just like you said, that tactic has only worked for two teams, that clearly show that it doesn’t work.”

    Of course it works. That fact that it worked for only two teams tells you it’s not easy to do, not that it doesn’t work.

    “Any realistic fan knows that although the US beat Spain that type of game only takes you to some point. If you want to go beyond you can’t just wait for your opponents. ”

    I disagree. It is entirely possible that the only reason Holland did not win is because Robben screws up a chance he scores on 90% of the time. So I ask you, if Holland are World Champs the game plan would have worked for a third team. How far “beyond” that do you want to go?

    As for Brazil, they are succesful because they have more good and great players than just about anyone. They can play just about any “style” they choose and win World Cups. And they have done so. They have won being physical and ugly ( 1994) and by playing the beautiful game (1970) and have done it with in between styles.

    Spain plays the way it does because that is what seems to suit their current crop of players best. It is also not a coincidence that the core of the Spanish team are basically Barcelona and that is an enormous advantage for a national team since they don’t have to think too much about styles, tactics and formations, etc., unlike many other nations.Why make it hard on yourself.

    For National teams, it always comes comes down to who is available to play and how are they to be organized to get the best out of them.

    If you want to be successful that is alwys the main consideration.

  122. Ruud Gullitt says:

    What I object to about De Jong is that he is not that smart.

    When he broke Holden’s leg, he was roundly criticised in Holland because it was felt that that sort of stupid foul (it was unnecessary in the context of that game) would get him red carded in the World

    Cup. His kung fu kick on Alonso was even stupider but it didn’t get him red carded, go figure. The Dutch have always had lots of nasty guys but they were usually a lot more discreet in how they went about their business. DeJong might as well just set himself on fire since he loves to draw attention so much.

    Pleae don’t insult Keane, Gattuso and Davids by mentioning DeJong in the same breath.

    In VBM’s case, I think he is such a psycho and has been for so long that everyone forgets what he does is a foul most of the time.

  123. Raymon says:

    Thanks Ives. I agree that the Dutch final was negative and cynical.

    I am just trying to understand the philosophical / aesthetic definition of “negative and cynical” soccer, when it is not quite as easy as the Dutch final performance.

    So I take it that most people accept the Suarez handball as a good “professional foul” and not cynical?

    What about “catenaccio”? Is that a “negative” way to play soccer – lock down your own half and maybe win a 1-0 game on a counterattack? It’s not a pretty game to watch for sure.

  124. Consigliere says:

    Thanks. I wish I could Trade Mark it…

  125. Erik says:

    haha Ruud,

    I think you are right about MVB. You also have fair points. De Jong did deserve a red as he did against Holden.

  126. justwatchin' says:

    umm…De Jong and Van Bommel created the ugly final with their hacking.

    Spain may have made it “boring” in your eyes but that style did not create the ugliness- Holland’s midfield maulers were responsible for that.

    Read quotes from other players who play against those two (or along side as Donovan did w/ VB) and I think one might find that they both embody tackling ugliness.

    Other teams have managed to knock Spain (or Barcelona) off of their “tip-tap” rhythm- it just takes a careful balance which neither De Jong nor Van Bommel were able to do on Sunday.

    I agree though, that one can definitely appreciate soccer just favor a different style. I think that in this modern game the tip-tap might be the best way to win, even if it’s not as beautifully flowing as one (such as myself) would like to see.

    Carefully controlling possesion from side to side until a space is created makes a lot of sense to me. I think any player would rather have that possesion Spain does as opposed to chasing it & that pretty much sums it up for me.

  127. short passes says:

    Adriano — great comment on the reason for “embellishment”. I get really tired of listening to all the frustrated NFL fans who whine about diving. How about a little concern for the strikers who are continuously hacked and kicked with no fouls being assessed. That doesn’t mean that I’m not frustrated with people like C.Ronaldo. I’m just tired of some people thinking that you have to be built like an NFL fullback to play as a striker.

  128. short passes says:

    I have to believe that your post is a cry for attention. If not then you have to be the poorest analyst of soccer in the universe!!
    You say that the US can play this game because “we have lots of guys who can pass sideways with the best of them”. IN YOUR DREAMS and theirs!! Have you actually watched Xavi, Iniest, et al!!! Their control is so good that you can’t tell where the trap stops and the pass begins. Even their ability to shield the ball is a work of art. Please don’t allow your genes to be replicated for the good of the game!!

  129. Xander Crews says:

    I realize everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, but I’ve got to wonder about the credibility of someone who says that Spain was the most deserved champion. The Spanish flop-fest was a disgrace to the game, and their short passing possession style, while pretty to watch, is, quite frankly at the same time, very boring. It was effective enough to win the title, but I thought there were far more entertaining teams to watch. Spain didn’t play the game the way it was meant to be played, in my opinion. You can keep possession and still take risks, something the Spanish avoided at all costs.

    No matter if you’re a die-hard or a casual fan, the most entertaining, most exciting moments of the tournament when you had both teams racing back and forth, with end-to-end runs and spectacular saves. The closing minutes of USA/Algeria, Netherlands/Uruguay, THOSE are the times that make people fall in love with the game. The flopping (I’ll never forget Iniesta acting like he was shot on the near sideline, rolling around for four seconds, realizing he wasn’t getting the call, then getting up and delivering a cheap shot seconds later) is disgraceful, and, in my opinion, a far greater cause for alarm than any refereeing gaffe.

  130. short passes says:

    Perfect analysis

  131. JS says:

    The facts remain:
    Advantage calls are still cardable, and since Puyol got off scot-free, there’s no way in hell that Heitinga should’ve been sent off.

    Your blind ignorance of the facts and unique dislike of rape also fails to excuse Ives’s poor reasoning as it pertains to Robben.

  132. short passes says:

    I think you’re on the wrong site, the Seahawks blog is waiting for you!!

  133. short passes says:

    A “tough and physical brand of soccer” — where exactly is the dividing line between “tough and physical” and crude and thuggish? By your criteria, it would appear that the Dutch could do anything and still avoid being accused of negative and cynical play just as long as they were penalized. Your other comment is an even more telling indictment of your real attitude toward sport — “It was a game to be won by any means necessary within the rules of the game.” In your world where do things like sportsmanship. fair play and the spirit of the game fit in?? BTW — I have supported both the Spanish and Dutch teams for years. It was 15 minutes into the contest when I realized that only one team was there to play soccer.

  134. Greenbelt Gus says:

    “DC Josh said… They dominate play like no other country. …Could their “tip-tap” passing be the future of football superpowers? I say yes. ”

    Spain dominated time of possession in their games. This is not exactly the same thing as dominating a game. Their last four games could easily have gone either way (they were incredibly lucky to beat Paraguay) and were all won 1-0. This is an excellent team but not a team that “dominate play like no other”. If teams nowhere near as talented and accomplished as Spain ( which is most teams) emulate their tip tap passing style, you will see a lot of boring 0-0 games. It’s not any easy style to play; don’t forget that this group has been playing it for quite a few years now both with Spain and, to a lesser extent, with Barca. So besides the talent level, Spain’s guys have the advantage of an extreme level of familiarity with each other unusual for most national teams.

    “I believe this World Cup has brought in a shift in the tides. Brazil has some serious work to get ready for 2014, especially since they’ll miss out on qualifying. Team play has taken precedent over individual talent.”

    Very little is new in this game. Only the players change. Spain’s 4-2-3-1 formation is not new, in fact that is exactly the same formation that Holland has played for a few years now and prior to the World Cup final, went undefeated with for about 25 games.

    As for Brazil, don’t worry about them. They are at home and are already the prohibitive favorite. All they have to do is sort out what “style” they think will be the best, and then bring Big Phil back around 2012. They are the last team to worry about.

  135. Missouri says:

    And of course you have spotless high level credentials as a former pro player and coach and have authored several authroitative works on the game correct?

    How about a resume?

  136. jai_brooklyn says:

    Exactly why everyone is relieved the Spanish won. But it easily could have been otherwise. This Dutch team, as opposed to their illustrious teams of the past, could have won the cup by hacking and kicking and a lucky goal against the run of play. But the Dutch fans truly appreciate this game and even they would not have wanted that. In the end good football prevailed and we should all be glad for that.