World Cup Watch: Spain Wins First Title

World Cup Watch: Spain Wins First Title

words_Nick Engvall

It wasn’t necessarily the match that everyone expected, but it ended in the most appropriate score. The Spaniards had emerged victorious in their previous three knockout round matches by the score of 1-0, so why would the final be any different?

While the focus of the match seemed to be on the aggressiveness of both teams, resulting in the most yellow cards ever issued in a World Cup Final Match with a total of 14, it was the persistence of Spain’s offense that prevailed. The Dutch were handed 8 yellow cards, as well as a red card that left them a man down for the last minutes of the extra time. That’s what gave Spain the slight edge they needed to grab their first title.

The day was meant for Spain and Andres Iniesta who put in the winning goal at the 116th minute. Spanish goal keeper Iker Casillas also landed himself a well deserved Golden Glove Award as the tournament’s top goal keeper, and the final match he was flawless, stopping all five of Holland’s shots on goal.

For the Spanish team it finalizes a remarkable year in which they also won the European title, a feat only accomplished by two other nations, West Germany in 1974 and France in 1998.

Diego Forlan of Uruguay was awarded the Golden Ball for top player of this year’s tournament, and Germany’s Thomas Mueller was awarded the Golden Boot award for top goal scorer with five goals. Mueller edged out Diego Forlan, Wesley Sneijder of Netherlands, and David Villa of Spain who also had five goals, by adding three assists to his performance.

Wesley Sneijder in the Nike T90 LaserWesley Sneijder in the Nike T90 Laser.

Robin Van Persie in the adidas adiPure IIIRobin Van Persie in the adidas Predator X.

Arjen Robben in the adidas F50 adiZeroArjen Robben in the adidas F50 adiZero.

Arjen Robben in the adidas F50 adiZero, tackled by Carles Puyal in the Nike TiempoArjen Robben in the adidas F50 adiZero, tackled by Carles Puyal in the Nike Tiempo.

Sergio Ramos in the T90 Laser after a missed goal opportunity.Sergio Ramos in the Nike T90 Laser after a missed goal opportunity.

Fernando Torres in the Nike CTR 360 replaces David Villa in the adidas F50 adiZero.Fernando Torres in the Nike T90 Laser replaces David Villa in the adidas F50 adiZero.

Andres Iniesta in the Nike CTR 360 shoots the match-winning goal.Andres Iniesta in the Nike CTR 360 shoots the match-winning goal.

Golden Glove winner Iker Casillas celebrates the victory.Golden Glove winner Iker Casillas celebrates the victory in the Reebok Valde II Pro.

Spain celebrates their first World Cup title.Spain celebrates their first World Cup title.

World Cup Watch: Spain Wins First Title

World Cup: Final Preview – Spain Vs. Netherlands

words_Nick Engvall

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.

Soccer City Stadium Home of the 2010 World Cup in South AfricaAs 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.

adidas Jo'Bulani Official World Cup Final Match Ball - Netherlands Versus SpainFor 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

World Cup Watch: Spain Wins First Title

World Cup Watch: Spain Makes Their First Finals

words_Nick Engvall

The Spaniards controlled the ball and played the match that would allow them to beat Germany, and that is exactly what they did.

Spain consistently attacked the German defense throughout the first half, trying to find a weakness in their armor. Like their previous matches, this match went to the half scoreless. Spain missed a few opportunities, but Germany had few opportunities. Then mid way through the second half, Carles Puyol headed in the only goal scored in the match.

Like most of the games Spain has won, only one goal was needed to lift the team passed their opponent. However this one could easily be the most important goal in the country’s history, as it gives them their first ever appearance in the championship match of the World Cup Finals.

Spain will take on Netherlands on Sunday to decide who this year’s FIFA World Cup trophy winner will be.

David Villa of Spain and Arne Friedrich of GermanyDavid Villa of Spain in the adidas F50 adiZero and Arne Friedrich of Germany in the Nike Tiempo.

David Villa of Spain and Lukas Podolski of GermanyDavid Villa of Spain and Lukas Podolski of Germany both wearing the adidas F50 adiZero.

Per Mertesacker of Germany and Andres Iniesta of SpainPer Mertesacker of Germany in the adidas Predator X and Andres Iniesta of Spain in the Nike CTR 360.

Pedro Rodriguez of Spain and Bastian Schweinsteiger of GermanyPedro Rodriguez of Spain in the Nike Superfly and Bastian Schweinsteiger of Germany in the adidas adiPure III.

Miroslav Klose of Germany and Gerard Pique of SpainMiroslav Klose of Germany in the Nike T90 Laser and Gerard Pique of Spain in the Nike Tiempo.

Spain celebrates the goal that send them to their first ever World Cup FinalsSpain celebrates the goal that send them to their first ever World Cup Finals.

Cales Puyol of Spain heads in the game winning goalCarles Puyol of Spain heads in the game winning goal wearing the Nike Tiempo.

World Cup Watch: Spain Wins First Title

World Cup: Race for the Golden Boot

words_Nick Engvall

For the first time since FIFA began awarding the Golden Boot Award to the top goal scorer of the World Cup tournament in 1930, a player has the chance to win the Golden Boot in consecutive tournaments but the competition for this year’s Golden Boot is fierce. With just a few matches remaining in the tournament, the winner is up in the air, especially considering the players that are still in it, and their abilities. If it comes down to a tie, FIFA uses assists as the deciding factor in rewarding the top scorer of the tournament.

Miroslav Klose of GermanyMiroslav Klose – Germany’s Miroslav Klose won the Golden Boot in his home country in 2006 with five goals, one more than his current total for this year’s tournament. However, Germany still has two matches to play, today’s semi-final and either the championship match or the runner-up match. What makes Klose’s run for the Golden Boot even more interesting is that he is just one goal shy of Ronaldo for the all-time top goal scorer in World Cup history. If Klose can overtake Ronaldo as the all-time top goal scorer and in the process become the first player in World Cup history to win back-to-back Golden Boot awards, it would be hard to argue Miroslav’s position as one of the greatest to ever play the game.

Shot at Gold: Klose has the advantage of experience in high stress matches. The Germans have been one of the top four teams in the tournament in the last two World Cup tournaments. Klose was there, he has proven he knows how to get it done. For this reason Klose has about as good a chance as any to take home this year’s award.

David VillaDavid Villa – Spain’s David Villa is currently the top scorer of the tournament with five goals. Villa, like Klose, also has two matches remaining. The first of which is against one of the toughest defenses in the tournament, Germans. Villa is the not only the leader of the tournament, but the leader of his team. Shouldering an entire team through the tournament by scoring in each match thus far, including two 1-0 victories in which Villa was the only player on the field to score, Villa is under more pressure than most. This kind of pressure can take its toll, but Villa hasn’t faltered yet so he is still at the top of the list of probable winners of this year’s Golden Boot award. Spain doesn’t play high scoring matches, Germany does, which ultimately hurts Villa’s shot at gold.

Shot at Gold: Villa’s has handled the pressure well so far, however being the only scorer on the team can be tough, since Spain hasn’t been to the semi-finals since 1950, the pressure will only get worse. Villa is more than capable, but even with a one goal advantage he might have the toughest road the Golden Boot. The German defense shut down Lionel Messi and Argentina’s offense completely, if they come into today’s match with that kind of dominant defense, Villa may have a difficult time finding a way to score no matter how well he seems to be able to use the side posts.

Wesley Sneijder of NetherlandsWesley Sneijder – Sneijder may be the funnest player to watch out of the list. The Dutch mid-fielder has been a key in the incredible unbeaten streak that has led Netherlands into the final match against the winner of today’s Germany versus Spain match. Sneijder plays with an excitement level that seems to be above all others, as well as his play on the field. Netherlands current win streak has them just one victory away from going undefeated through both qualifying and the tournament. Only Pele and the 1970 Brazil team have accomplished that, ironically Sneijder scored two goals in an incredible comeback against Brazil earlier in the tournament.

Shot at Gold: Sneijder is no Pele, he is however the future of Dutch soccer and that future is bright. Sneijder currently with five goals and one match remaining might seem to be at a disadvantage, but what other player score two goals against a team like Brazil? Don’t rule out the future of the Flying Dutchmen just yet.

Diego ForlanDiego Forlan – This year’s long shot is Diego Forlan of Uruguay. Currently with four goals, Diego has been one of the few players that have shown to have power and precision at his disposal this year. Forlan added his fourth goal yesterday, but with only one match remaining for the Uruguayan, he’d need to have an incredibly dominant performance in his last match, and a lot of defensive help from other teams to land the Golden Boot for himself this year.

Shot at Gold: If finding the needle in a haystack is difficult, how about trying to find one in a field full of haystacks? Sorry, not going to happen.

Noteworthy – Thomas Mueller of Germany would have had a good shot at the Golden Boot, however sitting out against Spain will likely keep his goal total at four. He’ll have a shot in the Championship match or runner-up match, but with all the talent still battling for the Golden Boot, Thomas’ chances would be about as good as Diego Forlan’s, only finding the needle in the field of haystacks would need to be done blindfolded.

Bottom line, today’s match will likely decide the Golden Boot winner, Germany’s Miroslav Klose, or Spain’s David Villa. Who is your pick?

images via yahoo

World Cup Watch: Spain Wins First Title

World Cup Watch: Seeing Orange in South Africa

words_Nick Engvall

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.

adidas adipure IIIA Netherland player’s adidas Predator X.

Diego Forlan celebrates a goal in the adidas F50 adiZero.Diego Forlan celebrates a goal in the adidas F50 adiZero.

Dirk Kuyt in the adidas Predator XDirk Kuyt in the adidas Predator X.

Wesley Sneijder in the Nike T90 LaserWesley Sneijder in the Nike T90 Laser.

Arjen Robben and Martin Caceres both wearing the adidas F50 adiZero.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.Arjen Robben and Walter Gargano fight for the ball both wearing the adidas F50 adiZero.

Wesley Sneijder and Giovanni Van Brockhorst celebrate, both wearing the Nike T90 Laser.Wesley Sneijder and Giovanni Van Bronckhorst celebrate, both wearing the Nike T90 Laser.