Spain must reign in South Africa if football’s to be the winner

Spain must reign in South Africa if football’s to be the winner

So after 62 games we arrive at a showdown between two sides who’ve never been crowned champions. Even the world’s smartest octopus couldn’t have predicted this one, it promises to be a classic.

In the orange corner we have the horrible conniving cheating Netherlands of Robben and Van Bommel.

In the red, we have a Spanish team so easy on the eye it could melt the heart of the lovechild of Vinnie Jones and Margaret Thatcher (not that such a lovechild would ever exist, but you get my point).

It pains me to slag off the Dutch, it really does. I’ve loved watching them over the years – I marveled at Cruyff, Neeskens and Krol in 1974 and sat in awe as an imperious Gullit and Van Basten ripped the Russians to bits at Euro ’88, but the current crop are utterly shameless and I hope they get what's coming to them.

They may be unbeaten since 2008 but this doesn’t necessarily make them a great team. Three examples of crass gamesmanship from their Semi-final spring to mind:

  • Uruguayan player challenges for the ball. Barely touches Robben. Robben lets out girly squeal and rolls around clutching his leg. Uruguayan gets booked for nothing. Disgraceful – and sadly the ref bought it.
  • Van Bommel’s disgusting foul on Gargano. Unbelievably, the referee waves play on and Holland score the first goal.
  • Near the end, the same player scythes into Fernandez with another appalling attempt at a tackle. Van Bommel goes down, claims Fernandez caught him (!), and feigns injury to avoid the card he deserved.

This behaviour isn’t worthy of the famous orange shirt, it smacks of desperation, and I’m sorry, but that just isn’t the Dutch way.

Contrast it with the approach of the silky smooth Spanish. I barely remember one bad foul in the other Semi (and credit to the Germans here too – it was a game played in a fantastic spirit). They play the passing game to perfection and move off the ball quite brilliantly in the same way Guardiola’s Barcelona go about their business. Surely it’s no coincidence Iniesta, Xavi, Busquets, Pedro, Puyol, Pique and now Villa form the heart of a side that simply refuses to hoof it long.

Yes, they can over-elaborate at times, and occasionally you find yourself shouting at the telly “JUST HIT THE FLIPPIN’ THING” but blimey it’s good. Very, very good. When they’re on song there’s not a team in the world that can live with them, and the only thing that baffles me is how they’re yet to give anyone a good hammering in this tournament.
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If there’s a footballing God up there, that will change on Sunday evening. Make sure you bag the best seat on the sofa folks, you’re in for treat.

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