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No One's Stealing This World Cup Final, Except Maybe Howard Webb

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The pregame for the World Cup final included a spirited attempt to either steal the World Cup trophy, or put a hat on it, or both.

It did not end well.

During the first half, though, Howard Webb threatened to steal the spotlight in the sport's most important game with a preponderance of whistles for fouls and five yellow cards, including one absolutely awful missed red, which you can see in handy animated GIF form here.

I'm not sure on what planet a studs-up kick to the chest isn't worthy of a red card, but Nigel de Jong and Webb are clearly from it.

As for the rest of the 45 minutes, testy is a fitting descriptor. With much of the game spent tussling over possession in midfield and few shots on goal to show for it—an early header was Spain's best shot, and Arjen Robben's ground-bound left-footer in stoppage time may have been the best chance for the Dutch—this final has the sense of a game yet to hit full throttle.

For the lithe, conditioned, tireless Spaniards, that has to bode well; they've won their last four matches despite heading into halftime without a tally.

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.