Paul the Psychic Octopus was right. I suppose that’s what I get for doubting him. Soon, once he has gained full control of his immense powers he will rise up with his besuckered brethren and take over the world. In the future we will all shuck mussels for Paul the Psychic Octopus.
As to the game, well… it wasn’t simply a case of the better team winning, though that was true as well, as much as Germany falling into the Spanish trap, which is basically to have the opponents chase the ball around, get tired, which makes the team that much less likely to do anything on the counter. To negate this kind of game you can’t just go after the ball, you have to limit the passing options. Germany never really did that, focusing too much on where the ball was. Conversely, however, Spain was very good at stopping the counterattacks, which they did by going after the ball immediately after they had lost it, stopping momentum. Germany never looked dangerous in attack, only getting one good shot at goal, while Spain should have won 3-0, missing two easy chances, and could’ve won by even more. Spain was a lot better, but Germany helped them be good by playing to Spain’s strengths. I suppose it might be said to be ironic that the Spanish goal came from a defender heading the ball in from a corner, but the best teams have always been able to score any which way necessary.
First Thoughts on the Final
If there’s a team at this World Cup designed to trouble the Spanish, it’s the Dutch. By trouble I mean, of course, Mark van Bommel, and his ridiculous tackles. He’s what’s known in football lingo as a destroyer. Not having the ball offers no protection against van Bommel, who’s taken fouling to dizzying heights. He’s not content with sliding into an opposition player, he’ll run them down, elbow in the face, push, kick, spit on, call names and, in one memorable example, fondle their genitals. He playes for Bayern Münich and the door in their stadium through which players pass through when leaving the pitch after getting a red card are nicknamed the van Bommel doors. If anybody is going to unsettle the Spanish midfield by his sheer presence, it’s going to be Mark van Bommel. What’s especially galling about van Bommel, is that, considering how much he fouls and how brazenly, he rarely gets carded. I’ll admit that he’ll be my least favorite player in the final, but he might just be what Holland needs to disrupt the Spanish passing rhythm. He’ll have no interest in chasing down the ball, he’ll just put the hurt on whoever happens to be near him. You can’t pass to someone who’s lying on the ground, writhing in agony.
Photo by André Zehetbauer.