Posted by: Brad Nixon | July 12, 2010

Socker

I don’t make many comments about professional sports here. It’s not my audience, it’s not my area of expertise, and the world is full of too much blather about sports and not enough real activity.

But, how can I resist describing what I saw on Sunday during the championship match of the World Cup? This was a promising matchup: two teams who had never been to the finals, both boasting a rich heritage of graceful and artistic soccer artistry based on attacking, instead of the defensive game that now dominates the sport.

By the time I tuned in, about 10 minutes into the match, it was an incredible scene. About half of the starters on each side were out of the game: the Spaniards lying on the ground clutching their ankles, heads, shins, and a growing number of Dutch players sort of hunching along the sidelines, already having been given yellow card warnings about dirty play. It was a massacre. The Dutch had clearly entered the game convinced that they lacked the speed, skill, passing ability and who knows what else to compete with Spain, so they did the only thing they could think of: attempt to knock down anyone in a blue uniform who touched the ball. It was a display of some of the greatest ball-tackling ever, except that, so far as I could tell, not a single Dutch tackle ever came close to the ball. Somehow those shifty Spanish always were in the way with a shin or ankle or, in one really amazing feat, chest, in the way of the Dutchmen’s honest attempts.

The fact that neither team scored until 26 minutes after regulation time had expired was no surprise: the Spaniards were too busy being attended to by medical staff, and the Dutch were too busy whining about all the unfair yellow cards they’d been shown.

I have not yet found any comments online from Johann Cruyff, one of the most brilliant soccer players in history, who helped create the skillful scoring tradition of both Netherlands and Spain, but he must be reeling.

There is some hope, however. I have it on good authority that both NASCAR and the Ultimate Fighting Championship folks are interested in talking to FIFA about a merger. That’ll liven things up.

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Responses

  1. Here you go Brad — Johann has spoken.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/world_cup_2010/8812484.stm

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    • Thanks, Mark. Appropriately scathing criticism of a nasty approach to the game.

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  2. i was at work, and missed the game, not that i’ve ever watched a full soccer match, because, not only am i ‘merican, i don’t follow sports, but i was torn on this match, we have a friend from the NL but we have several friends who currently live in, or have recently lived in, España, so, what to do? towards the end of our workday, the score was 1-0, and as far as i know, that was the final score, but it sounds like it was even more interesting than i thought it might be if the dutch were practicing blitz krieg on their former rulers. (way former) anyway, thanks, you’ve given me the most info on the game that i’ve seen!

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    • In deference to the European Union, I assume no one on the broadcast brought up the former Spain Rules Holland thang. I DID catch a reference to the countries being “at odds” a few centuries ago, so there was a little whitewashing going on!

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  3. http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/jul/12/world-cup-final-johan-cruyff-holland

    Here’s that Cruyff comment you where looking for.

    Sadly I must agree on most of your post. As A Dutch I was ashamed of the way the Dutch played.

    One more note. It was the 3 time the Dutch reached the Finals for the world Cup.
    And it was the only match in this world cup that was played this ghastly by the Dutch.

    They should have played like they did against Brasil. Now that was a good match

    Like

    • Niels, that’s gracious, but don’t take it too hard. The Oranje played brilliantly throughout the tournament, and they’ll be back! Maybe they’ve even learned a lesson.

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