Friday, July 09, 2010

World Cup last weekend - 2 more games

48 hours away from the World Cup finals, the first one on the African continent...haven't heard that statement made over the past month. We will have a first time winner and the first time a European nation wins away from their home continent. Overall this has been a good World Cup, not a great one - similar to the 1986 or 1982 versions. It has been head and shoulders above the 1990 or 1994 versions. So we have 2 more games:

3rd place game - Germany v Uruguay: The "mini finals" tends to be the most anti-climatic game of the entire tournament, except for fans of those nations. But since the World Cup only comes every 4 years I would suggest everyone watches the match because after Sunday we will have to wait another 4 years for the Brazil 2014 World Cup. What to watch for in this match? Klose might be out, taking away his last chance to try and match Ronaldo as the all time highest World Cup goal scorer with 15 goals. Klose could be back in 4 years but doubtful - at 36 years old. Mueller will be back and will look to solidify what should be the young player of the tournament.  Unless the Bayern player goes out and scores 2 own goal and receives a straight red card for mooning Angela Merkel, he is the odds on favorite to retain that title for Germany (Podoloski was voted young player of the 2006 World Cup). On the other side of the pitch, Suarez returns from his red card ban due to the "hand of god II." However, his attacking partner Forlan may miss the match, although latest reports are that he has recovered from his leg injury. In the end I think that Germany will be too strong for the South Americans and will retain their 3rd place title from 4 years ago. Germany 3 - Uruguay 2

The finals - Holland v Spain: Ah a final between two teams with the "best team to have never won" monkey on their backs. Spain kind of started to get that monkey jettisoned by winning the European cup 2 years ago (Holland won in 1988). However both nations, Spain in particular, have always let down during the biggest sporting event. The Spanish have entered tournaments with high expectations yet never reached the semi finals (at least not what is considered a true semi finals), let alone the finals. For the Dutch they had back to back finals - 1974 and 1978. Unfortunately both times they faced off against the tournament host - Argentina and Germany. Losing both times. The Dutch also made the 1998 semi-finals losing to Brazil (losing to Croatia for the 3rd place match).

The team that wins will remove a huge albatross from their neck, the team that loses will have to suffer at least another 4 years of "greatest team not to win." I also think the pressure is greater on the Spanish. Not only will they be playing in their first World Cup finals but they have a chance to be only the 3rd nation to hold both the European and World championship at the same time (Germany 1972 Euro/1974 WC - France 1998 WC/2000 Euro). So what will happen in this historic final?

Holland has reached this with 6 straight victories, including the 2-1 upset of Brazil. They have not shone offensively but have done what you needed to do to win a game. With De Jong back in the midfield to partner with Van Bommel, the 2 destroying midfielders will be hard for Spain to break down. Sneijder is one of the best players of the tournament and Robben has replicated his fantastic Bayern season, no one has had an answer for him. For Spain they showed a glimmer of all the pre-tournament hype during the semi - finals. The midfield - Iniesta, Xavi, Alonso et al controlled the pace of the match and put tremendous pressure on Schweinsteiger and the rest of the German midfield. Pedro was a good replacement for Torres adding width and pace to the Spanish attack. However there were some situations where Spain was caught on the counter - notably when Ozil broke down the middle and could have been awarded a penalty kick when Ramos clattered into him in the box. Or middle of the second half when Kroos' weak, but framed, attempt was saved by Casillas. Germany did not take advantage of these lapses, Holland will.

Spain will try to pass their way around the Dutch, however the 2 holding Dutch midfielders will be difficult to break down. On the flip side Holland has proven clinical on the break. Not sure the Spanish will be able to contain Robben either. Finally Casillas has been playing better, but I am not sure he is not showing signs of decline.

I need to apologize to my college buddy, Jose, but I think 3rd time is the charm - Hup Oranje.

Holland 2 - Spain 1 a brace from RVP!


philip said...

weird I mad a bracket and Netherlands and Spain were in my finals. Come on Orange win this game.

Holland 2 Spain 0

GFC said...

I also had Holland in the finals, but thought they would be playing old rival Argentina...oops

philip said...

good prediction for the 3rd place game. Hopefully you will be right again in the finals

philip said...

good prediction for the 3rd place game. Hopefully you will be right again in the finals