This year’s World Cup, like every World Cup, has been filled with controversy and complaints. Everything from the officiating, to the ball, has been blamed for teams losing and players own shortcomings. Yet somehow, there are still a handful of players that have been able to put up impressive goal scoring numbers in their race for the Golden Boot Award, and subsequently two teams still with a shot at the title. So it seems maybe some are just better at adapting to “adversity” than others. Beating whatever adversities are thrown at you along the way can be attributed to the mental toughness. It takes mental strength to win the ultimate prize for your country. Finding the mental strength when you are playing against the world’s best is a difficult task, but it is exactly what it will take to win Sunday’s match.
As the Oranje and La Roja Furia teams prepare for the final match of this year’s World Cup at Soccer City Stadium in South Africa, they’ll use the same best practices as they always do regardless of who their opponent is. For each team their approach to the game is quite different, yet equally effective.
The Spaniards, ranked 2nd in the world, have controlled the tempo of every match. Scouring their opponent’s defense for weak points until they ultimately find the one and only striking point needed to win. The Spanish approach is intricate and precise, and with talented players like Gerard Pique, Carles Puyol, and Andres Iniesta who play for FC Barcelona together, and Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos of Real Madrid, the team is the equivalent of the USA Basketball Dream Team. Then on top of that you add the country’s best player, David Villa, who is currently the top goal scorer of the tournament, and there is no question why Spain has reached their very first World Cup Final this year. The only slip-up in what has been an otherwise perfect path to the title match was the first game of the tournament against Switzerland, where Spain lost 1-0.
For the Oranje, the 4th ranked team in the world, their team may not be about precision and control, but they play with a passion and excitement that seems to be matched only by their fans. In fact the Dutch have not lost a match so far. The Dutch will look to capitalize with furious attacks on any and every mistake. Like Spain, the Flying Dutchmen won all of their qualifiers. However unlike the Spaniards, Netherlands has not lost a match in the tournament, despite being down 1-0 against the world’s top ranked team, Brazil. The Dutch came back to win 2-1 thanks to two goals from their top goal scorer Wesley Sneijder, who combined with Arjen Robben, makeup one of the best attacking offenses in the tournament. A completely different approach than their next opponents, but proven to be effective in getting Netherlands to the final match.
No matter who wins, it will be the country’s first World Cup title, and one of the most important matches in their country’s history. Nothing will be withheld, and everything will be on the table. For Spain, patience is not only the key to victory but their greatest asset. For Netherlands, pushing that patient offense of the Spaniards into a mistake will be the key to victory. If there is any slight mental advantage for either team, Netherlands knows that Spain can be beaten, the Swiss did it. Will that be enough of a mental edge to overcome patience and precision of Spain?
As great as both these teams are, it is truly too close to call. We will have to watch Sunday at 2:30 PM EST on ABC to find out.
images via yahoo
The final score may have been 3-2 but Uruguay really didn’t have much of a chance despite what the stat sheet says. From for minutes, the Dutch were on the offensive; Netherlands scored on a beautiful long-range goal from Giovanni Van Bronckhorst at the 18th minute, and consistently seemed to be on the attack from that point on.
Although Uruguay evened up the match just before the half thanks to a goal from Diego Forlan, Netherlands came out from the half attacking. In the 70th minute, Wesley Sneijder scored his fifth goal of this year’s World Cup, tying him with Spain’s David Villa for the most in the tournament so far. The Dutch were not even finished celebrating the goal, when three minute later Arjen Robben added a third goal, and all but assuring the team’s advancement into the final.
Uruguay didn’t give up, ever. They grabbed another goal in extra time and were attacking until the official blew the whistle signaling the Netherlands victory, and their spot in the final match for the first time since 1978.
A Netherland player’s adidas Predator X.
Diego Forlan celebrates a goal in the adidas F50 adiZero.
Dirk Kuyt in the adidas Predator X.
Wesley Sneijder in the Nike T90 Laser.
Arjen Robben controls the ball in the adidas F50 adiZero.
Arjen Robben and Walter Gargano fight for the ball both wearing the adidas F50 adiZero.
Wesley Sneijder and Giovanni Van Bronckhorst celebrate, both wearing the Nike T90 Laser.
You can doubt the Netherlands no more. With most critics as naysayers, Netherlands defeated one of the tournament’s favorites today to take the first of the four semi-final spots.
Five-time World Cup champions and expected finalists Brazil, scored a goal against themselves, and could not keep pace with the “Oranje” team.
The top ranked team in the world got on the board first with a goal from Robinho early. After that it was the heart of Netherlands team that proved to be stronger. Wesley Sneijder took a shot from quite a ways out that skipped off the head of Brazilian Felipe Melo to tie the match. In the 68th minute it was Sneijder again, this time heading a corner kick into the back of the goal to put Netherlands ahead for good.
Netherlands will face Uruguay who came away victorious in by far the most exhilarating match of the tournament so far. It came down to a shootout between Ghana and Uruguay and just as the Ghanaian team missed their very last opportunity of the extra time, their last shot in the shootout also came up disappointing.
Ghana’s Asamoah Gyan missed a penalty kick as time in the extra period expired, in what would have surely had the crowd at Soccer City Stadium going crazy, but instead the ball bounced off the crossbar. Ironically, the kick was rewarded to Ghana after a handball on the goal line by Luis Suarez. With the fifth kick in the shootout, after a stop from the Uruguayan goal keeper, Sebastian Abreu lightly tapped in a deceiving shot to give Uruguay the victory.
Saturday, Germany will face Argentina, and Spain will face Paraguay for the final two spots in the semi-finals.
Robinho in the Nike T90 Laser.
Wesley Sneijder of Netherlands in the Nike T90 Laser.
Nigel De Long of Netherlands in the adidas adiPure III.
Arjen Robben of Netherlands in the adidas F50 adiZero.
Dirk Kuyt and Mark Van Bommel of Netherlands both wearing the adidas Predator X.
Diego Forlan of Uruguay in the adidas F50 adiZero.
Kevin Prince Boateng of Ghana in the adidas F50 adiZero.
Sulley Muntari in the Nike CTR 360 and Kevin Price Boateng in the adidas F50 adiZero.
Asamoah Gyan of Ghana in the adidas F50 adiZero.