That was some month! For a soccer fanatic like myself it was a honeymoon part deux! Thanks to my wife for bearing with me this entire time when, straight after work, I literally ran home like a madman to watch 3 games a day. By the way, I have to admit that my wife did enjoy the soccer madness a bit, as well! I know, who wouldn't. For the love of the game!!!
A crazy thought but I have something in common with Clevelanders, who ask themselves after James went south: What the hell are we gonna do now in winter... in Cleveland?! True, I still have Champions League coming up in September and national league competitons all season long but world cup is unlike anything else. Everyone would want to experience it more often but the magic would not be the same. So it's ok, I'll live and in the meantime we can all prepare to sharpen both our soccer and writing skills for the appetizer: EURO 2012 in Poland and Ukraine before 2014 WC in Brazil.
A bit less crazy thought: I begin to think I should really get into professional sports and make some big bucks. After watching and reading espn analysts I do have a real shot! If they somehow get there (I won't name names, the so-called experts know who they are) I should replace them effortlessly. Confident? You bet I am.
For the love of the game it is more important, though, to focus on the WC. It started with the host nation, South Africa, playing Mexico. 1-1, nothing spectacular. However, Uruguay tough play against 2006 runner-up France was a preview of its great run all the way to the last 4! Forlan and company started and ended with a big bang.
Let's re-live the glorious soccer month, shall we?
Group stage: BOREDOM!
Unfortunately there was no great games at this stage. NONE! Pitiful exits by Italy and France, 2006 WC finalists.
2nd ROUND: Referees!
Oh my goodness! First goal by Argentina (vs.Mexico) was offside by a mile and 2nd goal by England (vs. Germany) INSIDE by a mile! However, at least the better teams won, which does not make it right at all, of course. Can you say video replay?! Hmmmm seeing 175-year-old Mr Blatter makes me want to shoot a penalty kick with him as a goalie. And I win only when the ball strikes his ironic face.
QUARTERFINALS: Finally! A drama!
The game that will be remember for a long, long time. What a spectacle! What a remarkable finish! F A N T A S T I C! Uruguay and Ghana gave us an incredible show... Holland came back from behind to defeat Brazil 2-1! Dutch performance in the 2nd half was brilliant... Casillas saved both the penalty and Spain against Paraguay... Finally, Muller's goal in 2nd minute changed the game before it actually started. Messy exit by Argentina.
SEMIFINALS: Taking care of business.
Spain and Holland won as expected to set up a WC final clash. Two best teams playing each other for the very first time in WC history.
3rd PLACE GAME: Let's have some fun!
Open game, no defense therefore no wonder Uruguay did not win. Germany took the 3rd just as in previous WC when they beat Portugal.
WC FINAL: SPAIN!
Despite the opening loss to Switzerland Spain won the remaining 6 games with 5 shut-outs! Only 8 goals scored (5 by Villa) was the least number of goals scored by a WC champion but quite enough for the greatest triumph in Spain's soccer history. Holland had its moments (Robben bad misses) yet it could not stop the best team in the world for the past 2 years from winning its very first WC title. Nothing legendary, it was simply the Dutch lionhearts against Spanish magicians.
Goal in 116th minute by Iniesta,
ended 31 days of soccer fiesta.
Things we will remember about the 2010 WC:
-Vuvuzuela, a new kind of alarm clock daily at 630am (Chicago time)
-Hand of Suarez with 121 minute penalty miss by Gyan that would have sent Ghana as the first African team into WC semifinals. WOW!
-Beautiful runs by Spain (expected), Uruguay (expected only by me), Holland (not surprising) and Germany (shocking! even to me)
-Official end of aryan race in Germany
-Diego's pre- and post-game hollywood-style interviews
-Fantastic fans chearing for their teams
-New Zeland - the only undefeated team of WC. Are you serious?!
Don't cry for me, Argentina ... in four years we will meet again!