World Cup final preview

July 10, 2010


“This is a tremendously intriguing final for a variety of reasons. Firstly, because it is between the two non-World Cup-winning sides with the best historical record in the competition, using this table as the basis for that statement. One of them will finally break their duck. Furthermore, this is clash between two sides historically appreciated for their style of football. Before the tournament started, if we had asked a large sample of fans what their ideal final would be to guarantee an exciting game, Holland v Spain would surely have been the most popular answer, considering Brazil’s apparent negativity and the highly-structured Argentina side Diego Maradona looked set to field. But then, by their standards, neither Holland nor Spain have played particularly attractive football so far.” (Zonal Marking)


Thirteen World Cup Theses

July 10, 2010

“1) Nobody plays “total football” any more, so please stop referring to it unless you are providing helpful historical context. Even if you call it Totaalvoetbal, teams would get slaughtered if they tried it against modern tactical sides. 2) The current Dutch team aren’t the “heirs” of anything except perhaps the drills created and overseen by coaches and trainers at Ajax’s football academy. 3)…. (Run of Play)


Zero Hour in South Africa

July 10, 2010

“There are two games left. The third place playoff takes place on Saturday, Uruguay against Germany in a game often described as one nobody wants to play in. It can be well worth watching though—teams have been known to forget about tactics and play with something approximating wild abandon, which in this World Cup will come as some relief. Then on Sunday, it’s Spain against Holland; one of two favorites going into the tournament against the perennially-highly-fancied World Cup bridesmaids.” (The Paris Review)


The Beautiful War – Rinus Michels & The Reinvention Of Dutch Football

July 10, 2010

“One of the more surprising requirements made of the Dutch team playing in this week’s World Cup final is that it is not enough for them merely to win the tournament. They are still widely expected to win it with style, and this level of expectation is largely the responsibility of one man – Rinus Michels. Never mind the fact that the Netherlands has a population that is one-third that of England, or that they didn’t even qualify for the finals of the competition between 1938 and 1974. The Dutch team that Michels built inspired such awe that the burden of expectation continues to cast its long shadow more than three and a half decades after it made its debut.” (twohundredpercent)


Myths Of The Near Past

July 10, 2010

“I’m loathe to mention him here, particularly in a vaguely positive light, but Nick Hornby once said something interesting about football. It was in Fever Pitch, if I remember rightly, and it was to do with the way that supporters tend to use players as a mirror of their own values. So, a certain kind of middle class, thinking man’s fan will praise players for their intelligence and their artistry, particularly ones with a ‘cultured left foot’.” (Minus the Shooting)


FIFA 2010

July 10, 2010


USA Ghana 1-2 – USA vs Ghana 1-2, Round of 16 matches. Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg. Flickr.


Stars as Teammates: Not a New Concept

July 10, 2010

“Welcome to the World Cup, where every team is the Galácticos. The nickname refers to Real Madrid, the most famous and successful soccer club in the world, which has made a practice, in the past generation, of spending enough money to recruit Zidane and Beckham and Cannavaro. Oops, almost forgot Cristiano Ronaldo.” (NYT)


Racial harmony? Not yet, but SAfrica makes strides

July 10, 2010

“World Cup fever, and the racial harmony it has inspired in her country, is something Caroline Motholo has experienced only from afar. On the periphery of her more-than-full life – she runs a day-care center catering mostly to orphans whose parents have died of AIDS – she has seen the images: white and black South Africans side by side in the stadiums and fan parks, cheering together for their national team before its ouster, sharing pride that their once-shunned homeland is host for such a grand event.” (SI)


And Then We Came to the End

July 10, 2010

“In the World Cup, as in any tournament, half of the field is eliminated in the first round, and half again in each succeeding round—a method of crowning a champion devised by Zeno and guaranteed to bring the whole thrilling spectacle to a buyer’s-remorse anticlimax. (You can see the diminishing interest in the now-trickling coverage in outlets both mainstream and semi-pro.) Whichever second-rate European nation triumphs on Sunday—if they can control the midfield as smugly as they did against Germany in Wednesday’s semifinal it will surely be Spain—will look a lot less truly top-dog than simply last-man-standing.” (The Paris Review)


Football Stamps of the Netherlands

July 10, 2010


“It’s the World Cup Final this coming Sunday between Holland and Spain and to celebrate this Footyphila will take a look at a selection of the football-related stamp issues of both countries. First up is Holland or more correctly the Netherlands.” (footysphere)


Putting a Curse Upon Uruguay

July 10, 2010

“Given that I’ll be shouting for the Germans in tonight’s 3rd place playoff, I thought it appropriate to show this clip of the Uruguayans – when the South American team were still World Champions – coming a horrible cropper against Scotland…” (More Than Mind Games)


Tiki-taka and Total Football

July 10, 2010

“Spain Soccer News Topics are currently averaging 1.17 goals per game at this World Cup Soccer News Topics, sitting right behind the United States (1.25) in 12th place out of the 32 teams who started the tournament. Of course, unlike all but one of those teams above them (the Netherlands, in 3rd place, averaging 2.00 goals per game), they still have a chance to win the whole thing. But that hasn’t stopped the criticism of Spain’s ‘dull’ play.” (Big Soccer)


Nigeria and Match-Fixing at the World Cup: The Vulnerability Remains

July 10, 2010

“Just to end the week on a depressing note, we hear about a BBC Newsnight report that says FIFA was warned Nigeria might be ‘vulnerable to match-fixing’.” (Pitch Invasion)