Spain and the Netherlands contested the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final on 11th July 2010. The venue for the final was Soccer City, based in Johannesburg, South Africa.
To reach the final, the Netherlands finished first in Group E, winning three matches, then defeated Slovakia in the round of 16, Brazil in the quarterfinals, and Uruguay in the semifinals.
After finishing top of Group H with two wins and one loss, Spain defeated Portugal in the round of 16 and Paraguay in the quarterfinals, and Germany in the semis.
There were 84,490 fans in attendance at the final, and more than 900 million viewers watched on television. Englishman Howard Webb refereed the final.
Where Were The Favorites
There is a mystique about the national football teams of Brazil and Germany whenever the World Cup finals roll around. The two nations are consistently among the 2010 FIFA World Cup favorites, regardless of their respective squads’ shape or actual talent pool.
This awe is not entirely misplaced. It had been earned over 18 editions of football’s grandest show. The South Americans have qualified for all of them, the European giant’s second best with 16 finals tickets.
Brazil owned a record five world crowns, Germany three. Both were looking for one more here at the 2010 World Cup finals. Their unique status was palpable here in South Africa, the continent’s proud first-time hosts of the 19th of the series of the World Cup.
There was heightened excitement whenever Brazil took to the field. However, South Africans always expected the Germans to win their matches.
Then Holland rocked the tournament when they dumped Brazil out in the last eight, and there was a genuine feeling here the football world would turn Oranje by the end of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final.
Only until Spain left the German machine spluttering in the semifinals did the reigning European champions capture the imagination of the locals here.
Everywhere I went in the build-up to the 2010 FIFA World Cup final, South Africans told me they never expected Germany to be outplayed and made to look so ordinary. Suddenly, Spain was in danger of winning over a new set of fans.
The locals hailed the team’s remorseless passing and constant motion. They marveled at the ability of the players to be cucumber cool even in the tightest of spaces and not abandon their stylish football principles.
They Were In Awe
And Spain should now forever hold South Africa in a special place in their hearts, their favorite destination after Iker Casillas lifted the nation’s first World Cup here at Soccer City Stadium.
Who would have ever thought Holland, legendary inventors of Total Football as recently as the early 1970s with the beautiful Ajax Amsterdam side of Johan Cruyff, would turn into Darth Vader at his worst in the 1-0 defeat in the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final.
They scythed and hacked as if armed with machetes, not football boots. They pulled, pushed, and harassed referee Howard Webb constantly, who missed Nigel de Jong’s best impression of Bruce Lee with a kung-fu kick that almost decapitated Xabi Alonso.
Coach Bert van Marwijk conceded in his post-match comments they had no choice because Spain was the best footballing nation in the world.
He claimed it was the only way to play against such talented opponents, suggesting Holland went out into the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final armed to destroy.
A Record Not To Be Proud Of
The Dutch chalked up 22 yellow cards in seven matches, the most of any nation, and one red. In addition, they committed 126 fouls, the most of any country.
Sadly, it was not the sunny Oranje style so loved worldwide, but football took on a sinister black and blue hue to collect victory at any cost. I remember Cruyff and his fellow artists insisting they would rather lose than win so ugly.
Right now, football has taken on the glow of a magnificent rainbow with Spain’s ascent to the top of the world here in South Africa.
How good are the Spaniards when they can throw on a 22-year-old called Pedro in the tense atmosphere of a semifinal against Germany and not miss a beat.
How good is Vicente del Bosque’s team when the substitutes feature world-class talents like Fernando Torres, Cesc Fabregas, and Pepe Reina. How do you beat them when they can call on Jesus.
The 24-year-old Sevilla forward Jesus Navas could be the country’s version of Cristiano Ronaldo with his pin-up looks and his considerable ability when he was thrown into the fray in the 60th minute of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final.
In any starting XI of Spain these days, everyone in the team is expected to guard the ball jealously. Defenders, even goalkeepers, are all not afraid to receive the ball. They constantly move always to give teammates an outlet.
Each Spanish player can make a precise pass, rarely do you see them hoof the ball upfield aimlessly.
Watching England here, I noticed Fabio Capello often gesticulating wildly for David James to play the ball short to his defenders, only for the keeper to mostly reject the option.
In England, there is nervousness about giving defenders possession of a ball because no one expects the likes of John Terry or Matthew Upson to handle it comfortably. To play for Spain, you have to own a calm ability on the ball.
Led by Xavi, the greatest midfield general of the current generation, Spain is so easy on the eye. They may not chalk up spectacular scorelines because opponents set up to stop them from playing.
But Spain trusts their pass-and-move style will eventually lead their defensive-minded opponents to tire, both physically and mentally, and cause an eventual fatal breakdown or slip for them to make their crucial breakthrough.
It didn’t happen against the Swiss in their first match here, but they held their nerve, and it paid off handsomely in the end. Football is beaming right now. It has worthy representatives as world champions, one of the most significant international teams in World Cup soccer history.
In wild, stunning South Africa, Spain was the most beautiful team on earth.
Soccer Legend Slams The 2010 FIFA World Cup Final
Germany legend Franz Beckenbauer has slammed the Netherlands and Spain for their performance in Sunday’s World Cup final.
In an article in the German publication Bild, the retired sweeper wrote that the final should have been the greatest match of the South Africa World Cup, “but this final unfortunately was rather an anti-advertisement for football.”
The 2010 FIFA World Cup Final, won by Spain, included 14 yellow cards and one sending-off and has drawn widespread criticism for its physical nature and the referee’s handling.
The third-place play-off, by contrast, he deemed to be quite different, offering “likable behavior and attractive play.” In that match, Beckenbauer’s native Germany beat Uruguay by a 3-2 margin.
Overview Of The 2010 FIFA World Cup Final
When Sergio Ramos attempted to score for Spain early in the first half, the Netherlands keeper Maarten Stekelenburg saved it. Then, shortly before half-time, Arjen Robben hit a low shot from the edge of the penalty area that Iker Casillas saved for the Netherlands.
There were numerous bookings throughout the first half of the 2010 FIFA World Cup final. Casillas prevented Robben from scoring when he intercepted his attempted shot with the toe of his boot in the 62nd minute.
Spain’s David Villa then had a chance to score 4 yards from the Netherlands’ goal, but Stekelenburg saved it. A header by Ramos sailed over the crossbar on 77 minutes.
After 90 minutes of play, there was no goal, so extra time was needed. A second booking by John Heitinga during extra time led to his dismissal. With a volleyed shot into the corner of the goal, Andres Iniesta gave Spain the lead, and the 2010 FIFA World Cup final title, with four minutes remaining.
Rhett is an Australian-born, globe trotter who is a UEFA ‘A’ Licence Soccer Coach. With his family, he has traveled and coached soccer in more than 30 countries, while attending World Cups, European Championships, and some of the biggest local derbies in the world!