I will admit it was hardly matadors versus total football, but I found the World Cup Final
quite riveting. Blood, thunder, sweat and tears.... it was all there and I was glad it was won within the 120 minutes and not have to go to the lottery of a penalty shoot-out.
Of course I was saddened by the Dutch defeat but less bothered by the way the Dutch played than almost everyone else. 'It was dancers versus thugs'
screamed Italy's La Repubblica
.... Kettle. Black. The Dutch were the inferior side but they set out to win the game, in fact Robben's pace nearly brought them the title. Some of the tackling was X rated, but the constant diving by the Spanish in my mind destroyed any moral high ground the Spanish may have deserved.
It was a terrifically hard game to referee but I thought Howard Webb did pretty well in the circumstances, although how it took until the 109th minute for a red card is a mystery. I felt that Webb tried hard not to be centre-stage but it was difficult when he was (mostly correctly) blowing for a free-kick every 3 minutes.
In many ways the Final summed up the whole tournament. It often took us to the periphery of something special but the competition never took off. South Africa will be remembered as magnificent hosts, but despite home advantage the nation's teams made no impression, alt
hough South Africa's victory over France was one to cherish and Ghana are young enough to come again.
France were rubbish, Italy and England just abysmal, but that wasn't entirely unexpected in Italy. We just got a reality check, but don't worry 'the best league in the world' starts in a few weeks and the FA can go back to finding that hole in the sand their head was buried in before June.
South Africa 2010 will be remembered as the stage the big stars flopped with the world watching. Rooney, Torres, Kaka, Ronaldo, Drogba, Eto'o even Messi each saw their stock fall.
Mexico, South Korea, Japan, New Zealand all left good impressions. The young Germans were scary good and must be a shoe-in for the Euro's in 2012. Spain were worthy winners although they passed the ball impeccibly for such long periods that when the ball was finally moved into a goalscoring position, their forward men were half asleep. Impressive that David Villa was, he still missed plenty of good chances. Anyway wasn't it Catalonia
that won the cup?
For people like me that think Brazil and Holland should throw tactics out of the window and just play expansive kamikaze attacking football, then we were disappointed, especially with the Brazilans and Dunga paid the price. Perhaps we are seeing a seismic shift in South American football following the admirable displays from Paraguay, Chile and especially tiny Uruguay.
Of course Diego Maradona did not let us down. Passion, desire, humour, he's a complete wacko and obviously has never taken a coaching course in his life. Too busy having 'fun' I suppose?
So lasting memories for me was the god-awful television coverage we had to suffer in Bermuda, although the commentator who did every game, I suspect from his front room, did a first-rate job.
The 'round' jabulani ball ruined almost every long distance shot and pass, unless you were Diego Forlan. Even in yesterday's game, the 64th of the tournament Casillas mis-judged a long distance free-kick when the Dutch turned the ball back after a stoppage. Now that would have been funny and one in the tentacles for Paul the octopus.
Despite some horror stories of wet concrete, empty seats, terrorist attacks and crowd trouble we were given a wonderful spectacle from some magnificent stadiums and settings. I just hope the poxy vuvuzela doesn't travel so well.
Sepp Blatter may have brought the World Cup to South Africa but the way he held off President Jacob Zuma to present the trophy to Spain last night reminded us all of what an egotisical chauvanist suit he and others at FIFA are. The FA aren't much better.
Anyway to finish, I have picked my World Cup XI based on the games that I saw. What do you think?
GK: Maarten Stekelenburg (Netherlands)
DEF: Sergio Ramos (Spa) - Carles Puyol (Spain) - Ryan Nelson (New Zealand) - Philipp Lahm (Germany)
MID: Xavi (Spain) - Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany) - Arjen Robben (Netherlands)
ATTACK MID: Wesley Sneijder (Netherlands)
FOR: Diego Forlan (Uruguay) - Thomas Müller (Germany)
MANAGER: Joachim Low (Germany)