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Paintin' the Town RED

WHAT a glorious and fitting end to the greatest exhibition on Earth. Defying all scripts, criticism and obviousness, World Cup 2010 gave us the most exhilarating month of the year. With South Africa under intense scrutiny, it was perhaps a fairy tale ending to this troubled nation's attempt at re-unification and glory. South Africa 2010 had it all; from endearing vuvuzelas, high-drama controversies and finally a classical final match, one which few had dared to imagine. Spain conquered the world, after a four decade long wait and they did it in the most convincing fashion imaginable.

Netherlands was never a side to be written off, but no one really thought they would come so close to the crown. Despite boasting the mercurial talents of Sneijder and Arjen Robben, all eyes were turned towards the Rooneys and Messis of the world. On the other side when Spain fell to 1-0 to Switzerland, the verdict was already out on the Euro 2008 winners. Repeated laborious yet clinical displays failed to appease the blood-thirsty sceptics, who demanded blood with every step. While Robben tried to recover from injury, Torres was failing to capture the form that made him into such a lethal and world-renowned striker. It seems nothing was really going on either team's side but all that was to change.

The turning point obviously came when the Dutch upset the Brazilians while Spain handed yet another defeat to the rampant Germans in perhaps the most convincing manner yet. Spain's lack of goals didn't worry them too much and neither did Torres' lack of form as David Villa took the opportunity given to him by the throat and continued to consistently dazzle spectators worldwide. The Oranje weren't far behind as Sneijder suddenly transformed into a world-class midfielder in his own right, helping the Dutch storm to the finals. The masterminds of the mid-field would then go on to meet in an instant world cup classic.

Amid the deafening drone of the vuvuzelas, the players from both side rushed off in a very open and attack-minded game. Under the watchful eyes of the at-times incompetent Webb, controversy was not going to be very far off. And it wasn't! What the match lacked in terms of goals, it quickly made up in intensity and what intensity it was. Both teams were not content with stringing together meaningful passes but also attempted to break any momentum on the opponent's part. Therefore, it was fouls galore all the way and the English referee was extremely trigger-happy, handing out cards like medals, in regular interventions. As usual, Spain showed how they had possession football down to art and thus it was no surprise to see that it was Spain who initially enjoyed the wealth of possession. Tearing away a Spanish player from the ball was as difficult as keeping away the Argentineans from scoring ridiculously offside goals. In the end however, the Dutch managed to do a pretty fair job.

It was indeed an evenly contested game. Why Van Persie was still playing remains a mystery and for what reason exactly Robben decided not to chip Sneijder's through-ball remains a mystery. The Flying Dutchman, as effective and dangerous as he was, seemed to be cloaked in delusions as he repeatedly tried to take on the whole Spanish backline when a pass would've been a better option. Also why the man noted for diving did not go down when Puyol was literally hugging him, remains a mystery. Both Goalkeepers were brilliant and the defenders played their parts well except of course for Heitinga. The 5th player to be dismissed in a World Cup's final did deserve it despite how harsh the decision may seem. Playing his worst game ever, the Everton man tried to make up for his inadequacies by breaking some Catalunya legs and then got what he deserved. Bert Van Marwijk may have shown great courage by refusing to park the bus even with 10 men, but Vicente really had the masterstroke. Jesus Navas' introduction completely changed the face of the game as the wily Sevilla winger began tormenting the Dutch defence with scrumptious crosses and brilliant movement. Why Van Persie was still playing came back to spectator's heads again.

Then finally, brilliance happened. Fabregas' ability to read the game and Torres' only crucial touch set up Iniesta for a glorious 116th minute winner. The only thing notable afterwards was Torres faking an injury since he had lost the ability to even fake ability. The final whistle was then blown to rapturous cheers. The 2010 World Cup Finals had come to and end, South America's dominance was rattled and Spain stood on top of the whole world.

The Championship then went to the most deserving team in the tournament. Diego Forlan deservingly picked up the Golden Ball for his ridiculously awesome showings while Muller consoled himself with the Golden Boot. At only 20, beating off the likes of Torres, Rooney, Messi and even Klose is certainly no mean feat. And now, it is not the time to hold any more grudges but rather to celebrate because Dunga got it wrong. In the end, Beautiful Football had triumphed. A standing ovation for Spain is now in the offing.

By Osama Rahman
Photos: AFP


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