This was not a particularly exciting or entertaining game to watch. I was left wondering “how did these two teams actually make it this far?” Surely this is not the best the world has to offer.
All of the “sheer brilliance” and “elegance” I had heard about Spain was not particularly evident to me. They did maintain possession well, but coordinated attacks were not plentiful. I unfortunately did not see their match vs. Germany, and I’m even more shocked they won that one, having seen their play in the final.
The amount of diving and rolling around in fake agony by Spanish players was absolutely absurd. They have won the World Cup not only in soccer, but also diving, and a round of “best actor” Oscars to boot! What a performance! This is cheating, plain and simple. It is a shame to see skillful players faking injury to gain an advantage, instead of just using their skill to play the game. It is also a shame to see officials who do not punish this sickening display of play-acting. FIFA, please, when will you ever put a stop to these displays?!?
In one replay, Xavi was seen clutching at his poor little shattered shin, writhing in agony. Until of course a Spanish teammate walked up, at which point he was suddenly fully recovered, and able to stand up and carry on a conversation. In the slow motion replay of the “horrific assault”, it was evident that he was not only not fouled at all, but actually not even touched in any way by the opposition. “Simulation” at its best. Unfortunately he was not alone in this activity.
This does not mean that some of the Dutch fouls were not legitimate. On the contrary, how De Jong was not sent off for a full speed studs-up flying kick into a players chest is a mystery to me. That was one of the worst fouls I’ve seen, reminiscent of the skull-fracturing Leonardo to Ramos elbow strike in 1994, and of course the infamous Zidane to Materazzi head butt in 2006.
The Dutch strategy was apparently to field a team of large men whose sole job was to physically bash the tiny Spanish players into submission. So perhaps the cautions that were given to the Dutch for “brilliant and elegant” acting by the Spanish balanced out the other Dutch fouls that went unpunished.
Clearly, the Dutch strategy was not in any way to field a Dutch team that was capable of passing to its own members, or otherwise formulating any sort of organized attack. Time and time again, they merely booted the ball either directly to the opposition or out of play. There was essentially no attack beyond “kick it towards Robben, and let’s hope he can beat a man and get a shot.” Sneider? Kuyt? Van Persie??? All non-factors. Whatever “elegance” the Spanish may have had, the Dutch lacked.
In the end, there were more entertaining games in the earlier rounds, and I can’t help wondering what might have happened if …