This was a game where Spain overcame a relentless attack from the Netherlands, as the Dutch seemed to take on the role of "beast" over that of "beauty". We ended up seeing thirteen yellow cards given, one which turned out to be a double yellow card (which equals a red), and eight of those went to the Netherlands. Of course, Spain played quite ugly at times as well, but the Netherlands will also be painted as the more vicious team in this game mainly because of a literal drop kick that was performed in the 28th minute by a Dutch defender.
In terms of non-violent excitement, this game really didn't pick up until midway until the second half when the game did start to open up a bit. Both teams ended up having some real solid chances, including 1-on-1 opportunities that were missed by both sides. But neither team could find the net in regular time, and an extra thirty minutes were tacked on. It really did seem like penalty kicks where inevitable until in the 116th minute when Cesc Fabregas intercepted a Netherlands clearance and promptly found Andres Iniesta. Iniesta put just enough heat on the ball so that Stekelenberg, the Dutch keeper, wouldn't be able to deflect it, and Spain found themselves World Cup champions for the first time (and they are also the new unofficial world football champions, let's not forget that!)
Without question, Spain has been the world's best team since the last World Cup, and the victory in this tournament was deserved. They only managed to score eight goals in seven games, but that proved more than enough. Spain becomes the first European team to win a World Cup away from European soil, as well as the first team to win a Cup after losing their first game. Other teams may have been more flashy, but Spain was the best side in this tournament and now have been rewarded as such.
Honestly, this World Cup seems like it went a lot faster than other ones I've remembered. It does seem, at least in the country, that there were two World Cups. One that included the Americans, and one that happened after we were eliminated. I'm going to remember this Cup as the time where the Americans had a captivating run but ultimately were eliminated a lot quicker than they could have been. As we've talked about, this was our best chance to really go far in a World Cup since ever, and we weren't able to come through. I am excited though to watch this team mold together in the next four years and see what we can come up with. Start making travel arraignments to Brazil now my friends.
Casillas is Spain's Most Valuable Player (ESPN.com)
Forlan Wins Golden Ball as Awards are Handed Out (Soccer By Ives)