Looking back at the 2010 World Cup

I realize that I’m nearly a week late with this, but following Spain’s 1-0 win over the Netherlands on Sunday, I wanted to share a few brief notes given my previous posts on the World Cup.

Spain: the tournament’s best team

The final match was ugly, but Spain deserved to win — and take home their first-ever World Cup title. They had the most skill, the most cohesion as a team, and superior tactics. And don’t be too perturbed that the final match featured relatively ugly soccer. After all, World Cup finals are often less-than-scintillating affairs.

Oh, and what can you say about pulpo Paul, aka Paul the octopus?

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A look back at my predictions

My predictions were, well…so-so. I thought Brazil, Italy, or Germany — one of the titans of the game — would win. I was wrong. Very wrong.

Brazil were let down by indiscipline, though the team will be odds-on favorites to win the next World Cup, which will be held in their homeland. The Italian players were just too old. Germany were wonderful to watch, particularly in their back-to-back 4-goal wins over England and Argentina, but they ultimately fell short.

On the plus side, I did predict correctly that Argentina’s Diego Maradona would fail to apply the best tactics. And I hinted at the difficulties England could face.

On the goalkeepers

On the goalkeepers: Italy’s Buffon went out with an injury. Lloris, of France, didn’t get a chance to shine because his team imploded. Julio Cesar was at fault for Holland’s goal. And we all know what happened to England’s Rob Green.

But Iker Casillas — Spain’s number one — came up big in the final, when it really mattered. And his post-match interview with his girlfriend, TV journalist Sara Carbonero, made for a memorable moment (embedded below):

On the Jabulani

Goalkeepers — and outfield players — were quick to blame the new Adidas Jabulani ball, which many people said dipped and served dramatically. Indeed, the ball did appear to behave strangely, but I will reserve judgment on this topic until I get my own hands and feet on the model.

On the vuvuzela

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The sound of the vuvzelas — the plastic horns that, when played in unison, produced an all-enveloping buzzing sound — will always be associated with the tournament. I wasn’t as bothered by the horns as other people were. And I must say that I have been amused by the vuvuzela-themed spin-offs, like Vuvuzela.fm (“Listen to the Vuvuzela Radio”), the vuvuzela iPhone app, and the vuvuzela on Twitter.

On FIFA and technology

How long can FIFA resist calls for video technology to be used in the game? I like that the game’s rules have changed so little over the years. And I wouldn’t want any new technology to slow the game down. (Though some might argue that play acting and diving already does that.)

But something as simple as goal line technology — whether it’s a chip in the ball or cameras to be used on the goal line — seem completely reasonable. As we saw with England’s ghost goal against Germany, there’s something wrong when everyone in the stadium — except the four officials on the field — can see that the ball has crossed the line.

On my favorite moment

There can be only one. Landon Donovan’s injury time goal (embedded below) to lift the U.S. over Algeria.

And finally, for an excellent round-up of World Cup images, see this Big Picture collection.