Tuesday, July 13, 2010

World Cup Final Post

Santiago Ramos sends in some final thoughts on the World Cup following up on his earlier post of June 15, “The World Cup Preserves Something that America is Losing”:

For those readers of the Catholic Key who may have missed it, here is the goal that decided the World Cup Final, scored by Iniesta, of Spain:

Mind you, this goal came after 115 minutes of play—that is, 90 minutes of regulation time, and 25 of extra time. Before that the score was nil-nil, 0-0. To say that one needed patience to endure this final match understates the case—the game was tight and the defensive on Holland’s part; the relentless passing and build-up on the part of the Spanish midfielders did not create many clear opportunities for a goal in the second half. The Spanish tactic favored creativity and movement, but it couldn’t overcome the violent cynicism of the Dutch. To be fair, the Dutch team didn’t completely sit back to defend and wait for a counterattack, but they did set a decidedly violent tone to the match (Video removed by FIFA).

In other words, the game was a lot like real life.

A few weeks ago, I wrote in this space: “The World Cup this year has its own set of stories which will congeal into the dramatic.” Scandalously, I did not even mention Spain in my subsequent list of stories. But now we can all say that the drama of the final congealed into an allegory: that of good versus evil, of the team which played beautifully and creatively and then defeated the team which played negatively, neglecting its own talents, trying to grind out a win by dint of blunt force. The Spanish team broke with the conventional wisdom which pits practicality against elegance, pragmatism against beauty: the Spaniards were cool and they won. If only they could have scored more goals.

Some good links:

Alan Jacobs (of First Things fame) has a list of dramatic World Cup moments.

My friend Elliott has a nice reflection on the end of the Cup.

Legendary Dutch player Johan Cruyff slams his own National Team for playing ugly.