Did you see “el Clasico” last night? The game had it all!!! Emotions were running high and it took me awhile to fall asleep. It didn´t help that I am a big Real Madrid fan and we just got beaten by none other than Barcelona but I did enjoy the game. Hopefully, Real will bounce back with a win over Sevilla on Wednesday to keep the title hope alive. How exiting is La Liga this season? Amazing 🙂
Watching the game last night got me thinking about 2014 FIFA WORLD CUP in Brazil. I have started to count the days until I see all these big stars fight for their country on the big stage. There will be a lot of betting opportunities for us “betting fanatics” with all of the major bookies already releasing odds for the winners etc.
I thought that it would be a good idea to remember some of the finales that were played in previous World Cups and I am going to start with the 2010 FIFA World Cup that was won by Spain on Sunday 11 July 2010.
The Spanish became the eighth champion of world football thanks to a decisive extra-time winner from Andrés Iniesta to end years of disappointment for La Furia Roja.
Spain started brightly and couldn’t believe it didn’t score in the fifth minute following a perilously dangerous free-kick by Xavi.
The Spanish midfielder swerved in an out-swinging set-piece that Sergio Ramos headed strongly to the right of Maarten Stekelenburg; but the Dutch goalkeeper produced an inspired save when the ball otherwise appeared destined for the back of the net.
Following an enervated effort by Holland’s Dirk Kuyt, Sergio Ramos threatened to open his FIFA World Cup goal-scoring account with a fierce low centre; yet Dutch defender, Johnny Heitinga, was on-hand to clear the danger in the 11th minute.
From the resulting corner, Sergio Ramos was again involved floating in another deep cross from the right, with David Villa generating a ferocious volley that rippled the side-netting.
Spain continued to dominate possession in the opening stages of the match, but Wesley Sneijder came close again for the Netherlands on the 18th minute as Spanish goalkeeper, Iker Casillas, held an awkward strike from the Dutchman’s free-kick.
The game then struggled for fluency as the tackles came flying in amid either side being cautious of its opponent on the break; and with neither the Netherlands nor Spain keeping control of possession for extended periods of time in midfield, five yellow cards were unsurprisingly produced in the first half.
The Dutch did have one final chance to break the deadlock before half-time when Robin van Persie fed Arjen Robben on the edge of the area.
Robben suddenly cut inside his marker before rifling in a low shot that Casillas tipped round his left-hand post.
While Spain was more-or-less dictating proceedings in the match, the Netherlands was arguably enjoying the better chances as the ever-present threat of the Dutch playmakers was there for the world to see.
Holland began to benefit from more of the ball in the second half as Robben again tested Casillas from the right wing with another skidding drive that required saving on the 52-minute mark.
Xavi didn’t look like scoring from an off-target free-kick three minutes later, but the Netherlands indeed should have scored in the 62nd minute through a fantastic opportunity from Robben.
Sneijder retained possession in midfield and, on the turn, threaded a beautiful through-ball to Robben that split the two Spanish central defenders.
With only Casillas between Robben and the goal, the Dutch winger darted a sidefooted effort on-target; but all Robben could produce was a stunning save from the Spanish ’keeper, who excellently extended his right foot to deny the Dutch winger.
Following a crucial block by Giovanni van Bronckhorst from a goal-bound David Villa strike within the six-yard box, Joan Capdevila tried his luck dipping in a shot from the resultant corner; but Stekelenburg made the save with ease.
Spain was increasingly looking like it could manufacture a winner in normal time, and on this occasion, it should have 13 minutes before time as Sergio Ramos somehow headed over the bar from a Xavi corner when unopposed deep inside the Dutch defence.
A critical moment in the match then ensued for English referee, Howard Webb, when Robben outpaced Spain’s last defender in Carles Puyol from a van Persie pass on the 82nd minute.
With Robben striving to be one-on-one with Casillas again, the Dutchman instead appeared to be held back by Puyol as Casillas smartly gathered the ball; but the referee stood firm deciding that Puyol’s challenge was indeed legal.
Five minutes into extra-time, the game sparked into life when Stekelenburg brilliantly thwarted Cesc Fabregas’ on-target attempt when one-on-one with the Dutch ’keeper; and with the Netherlands winning a corner from the counter moments later, Holland’s Joris Mathijsen did well to fashion a header which, unfortunately for the Dutch, just sailed over the bar.
Cesc Fabregas’ influence from the substitutes’ bench was proving vital, but the breakthrough still couldn’t come for the Spanish as a Jesus Navas effort was deflected away from goal; while Fabregas himself fired wide after his blistering run carved up the Dutch defence.
In the final 15 minutes of extra-time, Heitinga was sent off following a professional foul on Iniesta.
In reality however, Heitinga, who was booked earlier in the match, had to take one for the team in pulling back Iniesta, who seemed to be in on-goal for the Spanish.
Ultimately, in the 116th minute, Spain controversially took the lead when a blazing run from Navas eventually fell to Fabregas who set up Iniesta in the area to fire home a sensational volley across Stekelenburg.
However, the Oranje was relentlessly fuming when a goal-kick was given to La Furia Roja when a corner should’ve been awarded to the Dutch prior to the Spanish goal.
The Netherlands insisted in instantly unearthing a last-gasp equaliser, but in truth, it never really had time to do so, as the players from Spain engaged in jubilant celebrations following the final whistle.
For the Dutch, it had to settle with its third runners-up placing after tournament-final defeats back in 1974 and 1978 to West Germany and Argentina respectively.
Yet, as for the Spanish, it could finally show the world what it was capable, with the best generation of Spanish players producing the best trophy in world football in 2010 – Spain’s first FIFA World Cup.