Well, that… could have been a better final match to cap this World Cup. (The third place play-off between Germany and Uruguay was far more entertaining – if you were a neutral spectator anyway. Final score 3-2, the goals were nicely spaced out and it seemed like the teams had decided to take turns to score, thus upping the excitement.)
Was invited to Jemma’s friend’s place to watch the final game but in view of the fact that I hadn’t quite finished packing for my London trip yet, and that – more importantly – I did not at all relish the thought of having to walk all the way back home alone when I’m already going to spend the next 4 days by myself, I opted not to go. Much as I would have liked to see a full match with friends physically around me, I think the thought of the ‘alone’ time bothered me more. (I know I’m a quiet person and I don’t usually like being in crowds, but that doesn’t mean I like being outside by myself. It starts to eat at me after a while.) Anywayyy, I don’t know if that was the best choice or not, but I’m thankful that at least I had “virtual” company for the game in the form of Rani, Yan and Vinly. (It was totally a game that pitted best friend against best friend though – Vin’s Oranje versus my Furia Roja. ahaha)
The game started well, I thought, with the Spanish going all-out for goal. But when the Dutch got into the swing of things and started to warm up to their defensive strategies… they pretty much killed the game. Both sides just nullified each other. Poor David Villa maybe suffered the most, being totally blocked off by the Dutch. One of the commentators remarked that he’d “been feeding off scraps” the whole game and he was. He could barely get at the ball. Props to the Dutch for noting that he was a key player and shutting him down effectively – as well as most of Spain’s other forwards. They were just a little too good at their defense; drained all the spectacle out of the game. Although I think some blame has to lie at Spain’s feet too – they messed up several brilliant chances. Rani bemoaned the tedium and tension of the game several times over, calling it a “nightmare” [to watch].
And you just know that the game’s stalemate has gone on too long when even the guy (Vin) starts remarking on the players’ looks rather than the game: “Does Jesus Navas have nice eyes?” LOL. I still don’t know, actually – didn’t get a good enough look at Navas’s face. But Spain are a rather good-looking team in general.
But geez, those Dutch! There was far too much fouling going on. As I said to Rani and Yan at the end of the game, nearly the entire Dutch team had yellow cards and at least a third of them deserved reds. (Like, c’mon, that awful, awful karate kick of De Jong’s to Alonso’s chest could have – and maybe should have – been a straight red. I’m still astounded that Alonso could get up and walk after getting a spiked boot in the chest like that. Van Bommel was like a lean, mean, really bad tackle machine – sliding into people left, right and centre; deserving of several yellow cards and – at least according to the BBC studio panel, several reds, maybe. Heck, two yellow cards would’ve given him a red anyway. According to Vin, he’s called “The Destroyer” and has virtually no defensive skills. That explains a lot… By half-time I think anyone familiar enough with football would have been expecting at least one person to be sent off before the game was over. I certainly was. Sure enough, someone was and that proved to be Heitinga, after getting his second yellow.)
At one point I thought the match was starting to seem like the infamous “Battle of Nuremberg” at the last World Cup, involving Portugal and the Netherlands. I suppose that isn’t too far off, really. The Nuremberg game had 16 yellow cards and 4 red cards; this one had 14 yellows and 1 red. Pretty close, although I think in the former game the cards were more evenly distributed whereas it was mostly on the Dutch side this time. And in this game the ref was being lenient. Well, at least that’s what I think. A stricter referee would’ve kicked Van Bommel off (ha.) in the first half already.
Luckily, Spain seemed to pick up the pace again in Extra Time so it wasn’t completely frustrating to watch. Fabregas really should have been brought on sooner – he helped kick Spain back to life. It would have been really irritating to go to penalties on a goalless draw. (I try to chalk the pathetic scoreline and the general bad-tempered tension of most of the match to nervousness on both sides.)
In any case, Iniesta was very much the hero of the day. He was pretty consistent throughout the game. I hadn’t really observed him in previous games, but the studio panel said that he’s been consistent throughout the whole tournament so I’ll take their word for it. I also loved watching the replays of Casillas celebrating Iniesta’s goal at his end of the field. I think Spain’s captain was almost crying at that point. Aww~ ♥ The reaction from the Spanish queen up in the royal box was pretty cool too! She was practically jumping around. hehe
And when Sepp Blatter handed the shiny golden trophy to Casillas at the end… *sniff* I almost cried myself. Argentina disappointed me (again! ), Brazil too… but Spain lived up to their European champion billing and all the media hype and won the ultimate prize! Not in quite a spectacular fashion as most would have liked, but they won anyhow. (I wonder how many Dutch fans are going to go look for takoyaki or some other octopus-based dish tomorrow though… The staff at the aquarium that the omniscient octopus oracle lives in had better beef up security for a while. 8D )
I think the wonderful thing about the World Cup is how just about more than half the world gets SO caught up in this one tournament. The Olympics is, of course, the more inclusive event, with more sports and more countries involved. But it never generates quite the same sort of hype as the World Cup, does it? Even people who normally don’t watch it suddenly go completely football-mad for a month every four years. And bosses are almost forced to relent a little when employees wander in slightly late for work every now and then or look absent-minded during office hours because their minds are clearly elsewhere. hahahahah
It’s also a very sort of universal topic – well, unless you’re with people from North America or with those who simply don’t have an interest in sports. (I rather suspect that I light up very visibly whenever the subject of the World Cup – or even Disney/Pixar – comes up in conversation here and stays for more than a few minutes because it doesn’t happen very often.) My Facebook news feed was constantly filled with World Cup jokes and commentary this past month from everyone back home – and more recently, loads of octopus/sotong jokes. Aaaand, it’s the only time you’ll ever see men cry willingly – in public. Really goes to show how much national – and personal – pride is invested in the tournament. I don’t think I ever see athletes and fans as emotional as the footballers and the spectators during the World Cup.
Let’s have some amusing lines from my chatlogs during the game!
Vin, while the camera was panning past the teams during the national anthems:
puyol’s hair is unforgivable!
i hate arjen robben
but i’ll cheer for him tonight
Oh, how the World Cup forces a change of perspective. lol. And Puyol’s hair is something of a travesty… Though I think there have been worse than that Hobbit-like mess Puyol has. I still shudder to think of Cristiano Ronaldo’s strange curly hairdo when he first started playing for MU – looked like worms growing out of his head.
Vin, right after the Spanish keeper makes a great save with his legs:
i wanna chop off casillas’s leg.
Yan, some time after Jesus Navas was subbed on:
spain is gonna win. they have Jesus. hahahha
Me, when the TV cameras zoomed in on Morgan Freeman: wooo morgan freeman is watching
Vin: morgan freeman prob thinks that soccer is like rugby
I wouldn’t be surprised if he does…
Rani, at around the 80th minute or so, frustrated with the game:
Oh god, PLEASE do not let this miserable match go on to extra time!
I rather agreed with her then. We were at the point of “Someone – anyone – just score already!” Even if the Netherlands had scored then we might not have minded because the exasperation was getting to us.
Me to Rani, somewhere near the end of normal time, I think during one of Spain’s corner kicks:
i want to throw a ball at Villa’s head…
XAVI. WHAT WAS THAT
no wait was that Xavi or Ramos
oh Ramos.. whoops. lemme amend that
RAMOS. WHAT WAS THAT?
I think… the one good thing about chatting is that you get to preserve funny conversations and silly lines for posterity. ahahaha