2010 FIFA World Cup assessment – Matt
2010 FIFA World Cup Winner:- Spain
Us punters needed not turning up in fairness as Spain, the ante-post favourites to land their first World Cup crown, clinched the 2010 FIFA World Cup and justified why so many, although us not included, fancied their chances before the tournament kicked off at Soccer City on June 11th. Many believed the best team won of which I’m not of the same opinion as I felt every single one of their games were dull and boring, while their slow build up play had us switching over to watch Eastenders at times. However, while we were never a fan of the Spanish, they way in which they manoeuvred the ball was remarkable and their tactic of retaining the ball at all costs was very effective, so credit were credit is due especially as they had to defy an early setback when losing 1-0 to Switzerland in their opening game of the tournament.
Our Team of the Tournament:- Germany
We don’t think there’s even room for debate as the Germans were scintillating from the word ‘go’. They began with a four goal romp of Australia but little did they or anyone else know that they would later go on to match their four goal feat against both England and Argentina in two games Germany were never favourites in. Joachim Low’s mixture of experience and youthful exuberance almost brought home their fourth World Cup title only to be denied by the ball-hogging Spaniards. They did, though, still have enough in reserve to slam another three goals past Uruguay en route to securing another third place finish, their second in succession, taking their scoring tally for the tournament to 16, four more than their closest pursuer Holland (12).
It’s difficult to pinpoint any one stand out player as the Germans played magnificently throughout the tournament as a team, which is a lot more than I could say for some. Manuel Neuer was a huge presence in the German goal and had Germany not be denied a place in the final, probably would have taken home the Yashin Award for best Goalkeeper. A normally fragile and suspect German defence had conceded just twice before losing to Spain in the semi-final, with full-back Phillip Lahm filling in admirably for the injured Michael Ballack as captain and certainly led by example. It was, however, the quartet of Bastien Schweinsteiger, Mesut Ozil, Thomas Muellar and Lukas Podolski which fired Germany into the last-four and, somewhat ironically, into the hearts of many neutrals. Schweinsteiger has the tournament of his life in the centre of the park, marshalling that midfield like a pro as he continuously supplied Podolski and Mueller out on the wings. Podolski’s vigorous work rate out on the left was commendable and he remained a threat whenever Germany went forward, but it was two of their youngest players who had the biggest impact in Ozil and Mueller. Ozil was a constant nuisance for every opponent, swivelling in and out of tight spots while some of his through balls were sublime. The same could be said for Mueller, who despite being just 20 years-old. Shown absolutely no fear as he continued to bombed forward and aid the German attack.
It says all you need to know that when FIFA selected ten nominees for the 2010 FIFA Golden Ball, two were German while Thomas Mueller collected the Best Young Player award for his efforts.
Our Player of the Tournament:- Diego Forlan
Another ‘without a shadow of a doubt’ scenario, as Diego Forlan was rewarded for his industry during the finals with the 2010 FIFA Golden Ball. Despite playing in an unfamiliar role just behind the strikers, Forlan still managed to stand out amongst the crowd and almost single handily steered Uruguay in the last-four. His five goals in seven games so nearly earned him the FIFA Golden Boot as well only to finish fourth by virtue of pouring his heart and soul into Uruguay’s cause, as he played more minutes than anyone else in contention and so had a worse goals per minute ratio. He wasn’t just about goals though, as his ability to encourage Uruguay to burst forward and attack, as well as ding the majority of the forward construction work, was a joy to behold at times and his efforts through the tournament endeared him to the majority watching. I defy anyone to claim another played deserved the Golden Ball more than Diego Forlan.
Biggest Flop:- England
You could argue France or Italy should be considering those two contested the 2006 final, but England got the nod simply because they were a far shorter price before the tournament and were so abysmal in the finals throughout their short stay. From Game 1 right through to a humiliating Game 4, where they were embarrassed by Germany in a 4-1 hammering, England were well below par and at times appealing to watch. The hype beforehand was incredible, with the entire nation expecting a colossal effort from Capello’s men after the ease at which they qualified for the finals. Quite simply, the big names didn’t turn up. Frank Lampard, John Terry, Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney, all household names and all paid top dollar, were dreadful. Whether they didn’t acclimatise fast enough we don’t know, but we put it down to there being too many ego’s in one camp. Whatever the case, England were a huge disappointment and certainly didn’t match up to their pre-tournament billing of being third favourites to win the competition.
Goal of the Tournament:- Giovanni Van Bronckhorst versus Uruguay (Semi-Final)
Up till the semi-final’s, we were a big admirer of Carlos Tevez’s stunner against Mexico – A thunderbolt from 25 yards which beat Mexico keeper Oscar Perez all ends up. We didn’t think that would be beaten by Van Bronckhorst, who played his last professional games at these finals, stepped up and scored one of the most outrageous goals in World Cup history. From what must have been a good 35 yards out, Van Bronckhorst sprinted down the left flank and leathered the ball straight across the face of Muslera’s goal, smashing the right-hand post before nestling into the goal. Absolute stunner!
Game of the Tournament:- Italy V Slovakia
In a tournament where exciting games were few and far between, this match between Italy and Slovakia stood out amongst every single one of them. It was a match Italy needed only a draw to progress from Group F but only a win would have done for Slovakia, who began the day bottom of the group. Few gave Slovakia any chance of making the impossible possible but when Robert Vittek prodded home from close range, the non-believers were quickly beginning to turn. Just when the game appeared to be dwindling out into a narrow Slovakia win, the game exploded into life when the Slovak’s doubled their lead through Vittek again. However, if anyone through the Italians were dead and buried for one moment they were about to be given a dose of true grit and determination, as Antonio Di Natale reduced the deficit on 81 minutes only to have a potential leveller ruled out for offsides minutes later, with Quagriarella adjudged to be in an offside position by English officials. If the Italians felt hard done by then they were fuming at the next piece of action, substitute Kopunek running onto an Italian throw-in before lifting the ball over a despairing Marchetti. Slovekia looked home and hosed at that point, boasting a two goal lead with just injury time left to play, but when Fabio Quagriarella cutely chipped the ball over Slovakia keeper Mucha in the second minute of injury time, doubts were beginning to surface. Great champions now how to defy adversity and with the last kick of the game, Pepe was the man who will forever be remember for spurring a glorious opportunity which would have seen Italy through and saved their bacon. His loss was Slovakia gain though as the Slovak’s celebrated group progression for the first time in their history only to be knocked out in the next round by Holland.
Funniest Moment: Gabriel Heinze
Known for his dirty on-pitch tactics and even uglier spells of diving, we all had a jolly good laugh when one cameraman went in for a closer look following a goal scored by Carlos Tevez against Mexico only for Heinze to look up and walk straight into the camera, with the Argentine falling back as though he’d been hit by Mike Tyson. Heinze’s reaction was of disgust and quickly thumped the camera for daring to get anywhere near such a hideous face. Cracking stuff.
In terms of actual football, you can’t go far wrong with Yakubu’s open goal miss from two yards out against South Korea in a game which had he scored probably would have seen Nigeria qualifying from the group. No-one knows how he missed, not even Yakubu.
Granted the football at times wasn’t the best, while it did take a while to get going, but it was an enjoyable tournament even though in probability it will not be held in high regard as like previous World Cup’s. Even so, the South Africa atmosphere was something to saviour, even if the Vuvuzela’s weren’t, and we did at least see a new champions crowned king of the world, with Spain becoming the eighth individual winners of the FIFA World Cup. I’ll see you again in four years time