Thursday, July 15, 2010

Viva Espanha!

Full disclosure -- my wife's family is Catalan; I'm a Barca fan. This, however, is not an all Barca or all Spain blog.

Having had a few days to reflect on the match, my opinion remains the same -- the best team won. It was not a pretty match, but I can't say I expected it to be. Spain playing in its first ever final, versus a Dutch side that isn't nearly as classy as previous incarnations.

Both teams looked nervous at that start, Spain especially. Ramos was ever eager to receive the ball, but got rid of it immediately afterwords. Xavi must have had adrenaline coursing through his veins -- he was not his typical calm, thoughtful self.

Much has been said about the ref, Howard Webb. I though he did a decent job in a very tough game. Both teams made rough fouls - Webb did his best to keep the game moving.

Highlights: Incredible finish at the death by Barca forward/midfielder Andres Iniesta. Incredible performance from Iker Casillas, the Madrid goalkeeper. Robben running at Casillas in a couple of one on one situations caused the heart to flutter -- thankfully Casillas was up to the challenge on one play; Puyol, of course, managed to bump Robben off the ball for the other. Robben wanted a foul but, as others have pointed out, perhaps that non-call was retribution for the Van Bommel or DeJong fouls earlier in the game.

I think the greatest joy for me however, was seeing Barca and Madrid players look genuinely happy playing together. It be foolish to say that they put history behind them completely, but it does seem like they've made some sort of peace with it.

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