Spain vs. the Netherlands in the final. For me, this is the worst time of the Cup… knowing that there are two soccerless days left before the consolation match and the final, and then four long years before the whole thing starts again in Brazil.
Hopefully the final will be better than the Spain-Germany semifinal today. Spain couldn’t punch anything in, and for all their pressing against Ze Germans, couldn’t get behind them except for a brief flurry in the second half. Spain’s best offense came from Puyol’s head and from long shots outside the box. Germany seemed to miss Müller an awful lot. Özil looked anemic and harmless–there was no sign of the creativity he’d shown throughout the tournament, no dangerous through-balls, and only one threatening run, which resulted in a flop in the box. There was no service to Klose, and since he can’t develop and attack or create anything for himself, he may as well not have been in the game. I was surprised to see that Germany ended up with 49% of the possession; it seemed like Spain had the ball twice as much as Germany did. Dull first half, second half was a little better.
The Holland-Uruguay semifinal was far more entertaining–more offense, more aggression, more goals. Uruguay fought back after the first goal, and nearly fought back again in the end. Holland actually went out and won a game instead of relying on the other team melting down a la Brazil.
So, one way or another, we’re going to get a first-time champion. Before making a prediction, let’s have a look at my record, and lump in some “coulds” and “shoulds” with the “shalls”:
June 10, 2010
1. The US should advance. Yep.
2. Italy should win their group. Nope.
3. “I think Italy or Argentina or Brazil or England or France or Germany or Holland or Portugal or Spain will win.” Yep.
June 12, 2010
4. “…I correctly predicted Steven Gerrard would score the first goal of the US-England match, and that the US would tie it up…” Yep.
June 18, 2010
5. “Spain can still advance with wins against Chile and Honduras…” Yep.
6. “Spain’ll choke again.” They haven’t yet, but what better time than the final?
7. “Italy should still advance…” Nope.
8. “Brazil [could win] it all by being clinical and calculating instead of stylish and spectacular.” This wasn’t exactly a prediction, but their flameout against Holland was immature and unfocused.
9. “Now off to the bookstore and to pray for an Algerian win or draw against England.” Correct on both counts: I went to the bookstore and Algeria drew against England.
June 23, 2010
10. “Spain found its footing and will probably put on a show against Chile before choking in the elimination rounds.” They beat Chile, but again, haven’t choked yet.
June 27, 2010
11. Holland over Slovakia. Yes.
12. Brazil over Chile. Yes.
13. Germany over England. Yes.
14. Argentina over Mexico. Yes.
15. Japan over Paraguay. Nope. Japan lost in PKs.
16. Spain over Portugal. Yeppur.
17. Uruguay over Ghana. Yes, though I was pulling for Ghana at the end there.
18. Brazil over Holland. Nope.
19. Spain over Japan. This matchup didn’t happen, but Spain did advance to the semis.
20. Argentina over Germany. Hoo boy, nope. By the way, where was that German squad today?
21. Brazil over Uruguay. I was right that Uruguay would lose, but it was to Holland rather than Brazil.
22. Argentina over Spain. Wrong opponent, wrong result, doubly wrong.
23. Argentina over Brazil. Nope. Can’t happen.
July 2, 2010
24. “I still think the winner is coming out of the other half of the bracket.” This was after Brazil was eliminated. If this call is correct, then Spain will win. But if Spain wins, that’ll negates my prediction that Spain will choke.
25. “I think the winner of tomorrow’s Argentina-Germany match is going to win the whole thing.” Nope.
Not pretty. And that’s not even considering my original claim that the US would outscore their opponents by a combined score of 56 to 3 en route to winning the Cup (granted, that was a little tongue-in-cheek).
I don’t know who’s going to win on Sunday. Given their lineup, I think Spain should win, but even after shutting down Germany like they did, I still think they’re missing something. They have so much firepower on that roster, and yet seven goals in six games puts them on pace to be the lowest-scoring champion ever. Meanwhile, Holland’s won every game and scored at least two in all but one of their games. They’ve beaten a good offense in Brazil and a good defense in Uruguay. They could win. I don’t care who wins at this point, as long as the game’s a thriller.
So, who’s going to win? Tough call. I would not have predicted a Spain-Holland final. Chances are, someone out there made the right call simply because they like red and orange. Therefore, since I’ve been wrong about so much else this tournament, I’m going to rely on a recently-acquired fifty cent piece to call this one for me. Heads Holland, tails Spain…