Tops & Flops

With a match that in some ways resembled Chelsea Barcelona from the Champions League a year ago (deadlocked for almost all of 120 minutes, Iniesta broke the tie out of nowhere, BallackRobben hounding the ref and Dutch players crowding the ref time and again) a lot of players played amazingly well and a lot of stars faded under the pressure and frustration. So without further ado

The Tops

Spain
Well, they’re World Champions and European Champions. Only team to win the tournament after losing their first game and they only scored 8 goals. ‘Nuff said?

The Dutch
Played well throughout the tournament. Won the same amount of games as the Spanish and even if the finals were not a great display of football from them, they did have enough grace and dignity to give a guard of honor to the Spaniards. If that doesn’t silence questions of Dutch being ugly and having no idea about how to respect people I don’t know what will. Classy.

Iniesta

A true champion

Except for a horrendous dive that was rewarded with a yellow to Van der Wiel, Iniesta was marvellous. The “engine” of the team that always starts its attacks forward, Iniesta ended a brilliant passing move to score (even if he may have been offside on the first pass). And a tribute to Dani Jarque, his ex-teammate that passed away, brilliant.

Casillas
Made saves when it mattered and even with all the problems he had with the Jabulani he managed to keep clean sheet after clean sheet, including one on the most important match day of them all.

Xabi Alonso
Took a boot to the chest and kept on playing. Still couldn’t shoot on target, but his work ethic cannot be questioned.

Jesus Navas
Came on as an impact sub and that’s exactly what he did. Infused energy into a Spain team that was starting to slow down.

Cesc Fabregas
Another impact sub, another marvellous blow to the Dutch. His runs were excellent and even though he couldn’t find the net, he did unsettle the Dutch. Another masterstroke by…

Vicente Del Bosque

The man did it!

Unlike his opposing number, Del Bosque stuck to good old football school of thought by substituting attackers when in need of a goal. By removing Villa for Torres and switching attack to the left just after Van Marwijk had put fresh legs (Braafheid) on the right flank, there is no question who the better coach was on the day.

Van der Wiel
One of the few Dutch to increase in strength through the game, Van der Wiel played at years above his age. Unlucky to be carded for a dive by Iniesta (though he did himself no favours by trying to grab at the falling chap), Van der Wiel gave Robben space to have a chance at destroying Spain’s left flank.

Sneijder

“If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs”
– Rudyard Kipling, If

Seems like Rudyard Kipling wrote the poem with Sneijder in mind. Was the only one in the Dutch team to show intent and not let frustration get the better of him (except one horrible shot). Also kept his teammates (Van Bommel) from yelling the referee off the face of the field. A class act in all and unfortunate that someone who could be evil (Problem being that neither are evil) twins with Iniesta won’t be lifting the World Cup in addition to his treble.

Stekelenburg
Made save time and again to keep the Dutch in the race until he could only get a hand to the one that went in. A great goalkeeper <Arsene Wenger buy him!!> and didn’t let the occasion get to him. Fantastic.

Van Bronckhorst
An excellent display from the defender who was playing his last game. A class act in defence, he made many important last ditch clearances and tackles and can look back on pride with his career.

The Flops

Robben
Missed both chances one-on-one with Casillas. It’s amazing that he manages to find the net from outside the box and can’t do so on easy chances when set free by the amazing Sneijder. And then hounded the ref a la Ballack and Tom Ovrebo in the Champions League. Pity.

Van Persie
When Holland (really really) needed a striker, Van Persie continued to play in the support striker role. Yes, your turns, etc. are good but we need the finishing touch if you are going to be considered great, Robin.

Villa
The best striker? Couldn’t do a thing against the Dutch. Should have scored and instead sent his best chance (and Spain’s best chance) wide – straight into Heitinga’s shin. Tche tche.

Busquets
This guy reeks of epic fail every time he goes for his dive routine. And this time he brought back his finishing move: the tumbler roll. Won the referee’s heart with a yellow card for the Dutch.

Van Bommel and De Jong
Normally exceptional in their roles, they screwed it up on the day that mattered most. Mistimed all their tackles and De Jong was lucky not to be red carded early on. With early cards, both their influences on the match faded to almost nil.

Eljero Elia

Unsatisfactory

Brought on as an impact sub, he was everything but. Hardly touched the ball, showed little intent and his first important moment in the match was chipping the ball too long for Robben’s run. The occasion clearly got to the youngster.

Bert Van Marwijk
What a pathetic evening for the Dutch coach. Faced with a tough choice as all his best players were already on the pitch with the ones on the bench being of significantly lower quality (except maybe Van der Vaart), Van Marwijk finally ran out of masterstrokes (having pulled off one at almost every knockout game so far). Pulling off Kuyt was good but bringing on Elia in his place was questionable with the youngster needing to do a lot at such a big stage. Van der Vaart, who would have been ideal, came on much later. And removing Bronckhorst (maybe the strongest Dutch defender) for Braafheid (who hadn’t played in this World Cup till then) was an EPIC FAIL.

Puyol
Luck not to have conceded a penalty/free kick and been sent off. Couldn’t do anything against the Dutch attack. Again luck favoured him with Spain’s strong midfield meaning Holland’s attacks were few and far apart.

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About trequartisti

Two football (NOT SOCCER) loving geeks and we come as a bundle.
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