World Cup 2010
If someone asked me what year I like the most I would answer quickly and without hesitation: 2010. 2010 is my favourite year that offered a lot of highlights. The World Cup is one of them. Why? Because my favourite team won. Yes, 2010 really was a great year.
Why the 2010 World Cup is my favourite
It was one of the years when something took place that only happened quadrennial: a World Cup, but this time I was way more enthusiastic than four years before. Not because I was older now, but because I had clear favourites – and it wasn't my own country. Like the previous two tournaments, I don't remember a lot but it's important things that I can recall.
Paul, the octopus, was one of those things to remember. While he failed to predict the final outcome correctly two years ago and left many fans enraged, he was right about every match this time. He became a phenomenom that was soon known around the world for his exceptional 100-percent rate. (I always wondered what would have been in case of a draw. Would he have picked the food in both boxes? Coincidentally, no match ended in a draw so we would never find out.)
The first match against Australia was an easy win. However, the second prediction was shocking: Paul backed the opponents to win. But the biggest shock was yet to come. Klose was sent-off after a red card. I can still remember the reactions very clearly. No one could believe what happened. We would indeed go on to lose the match. I was more shocked by the red card than the defeat, as Paul saw it coming.
The last group stage match against Ghana saw two brothers competing against each other. We had to win this match to stay in the tournament. The match stood at 0-0 until the decisive goal was scored in the second half time. We then advanced to the knockout stage as group winners. Ghana qualified as well, so no one left the pitch as loser after the match.
England awaited us in the round of 16. It was a controversial match with a bad call by the referee. The second goal for England should have definitely been allowed. Everyone could see that the ball clearly crossed the line. In the end, Germany won and Paul once again knew it.
Not everyone loved the octopus. The Argentinians were so angry they threatened to eat him. His „prediction“ didn't match a theory. He apparently chose Serbia's flag because it's brighter than Germany's. If that's the case, why didn't he choose Argentina instead as their flag is a lot brighter than ours? Germany and Argentina already met a few times in World Cups, including two finals, both sides winning one each. Thanks to the win, we reached the semi finals for the third time in a row with yet another remake.
How a single player carried his team on his own
Besides Germany, we only cared about Spain, the reigning European champions. Their first match didn't go as well as ours and they conceded an unnecessary goal. Why the defenders just stood around and did nothing to prevent the goal is still beyond me. There were a lot of players who could have just kicked the ball away. After the surprising defeat that was commented by my sister with a curse word they needed to win both matches to ensure qualification for the knockout stage.
And during those two matches, one player would shine individually. Someone who was this brilliant that he had his complete name written on his jersey, as if he wanted to say „Remember my name“. He was the „Furia“ in „La Furia Roja“. It was no other than a certain number 7 who I still remembered very well from the last Euro. He basically beat Honduras on his own by scoring two goals. It could have been a hat-trick if he didn't miss a penalty. (How could he? It would cost him the title as top goalscorer.)
Against Chile, he also became the hero. Not only did he score one of the best goals of the tournament, he also assisted another. Me and my sister were so amazed we created an own chant for him. Spain finished as group winners and avoided Brazil.
Instead we had the Iberian derby and once again it would be him to save the day. Based on the nickname of the Portuguese player with the same jersey number I call him DV7. His goal would take Spain to the quarterfinals. But there was a problem: the quarterfinal curse.
And indeed the quarterfinal started very dramatically. Three penalties within four minutes for both teams, two of them were saved; the other one was scored but had to be retaken even though my sister and I didn't understand why. In Spain's case we were happy that it didn't result in a goal for Paraguay. Another penalty for Spain wasn't given. It could have been the Euro top goalscorer's chance to redeem himself after his missed penalty against Honduras but he would get another opportunity to score. We had a short moment of panic when Paraguay seemed to have scored but sighed in relief when it was disallowed, and the Spaniards could consider themselves lucky about this decision. The match turned to a nail-biter and still drew 0-0 minutes before the end of regular time. DV7, always there when you need him, came to the rescue and scored yet another dream goal that made Spain break the quarterfinal curse. It's thanks to him that they reached the semi finals as he was involved in all six goals to that point. What would have been if he was banned after the match against Honduras? Sadly, it would be his last goal.
Germany's opponent for the semi final was found. After two years, the Euro 2008 finalists would face each other again. Paul chose Spain this time but because of his failure at the Euro final German fans had hopes that he would be wrong once again. I had to watch the semi final alone as my sisters went out to a public screening. Unfortunately, a movie I didn't want to miss was aired at the same time. I had to decide what to do and chose to switch channels every few minutes. After a while I forgot to do so and watched the movie. In fact, I was really nervous about the outcome of the match. My heart was beating for Spain that had never won a World Cup before and I therefore wanted to win. When I finally gave myself a push and switched to the match, the score was already 1-0 for Spain. I missed the goal, and I was disappointed when I heard who scored it. But I quickly saw past that because what mattered was that Spain reached the final. Therefore, I wasn't sad that Germany lost the second consecutive semi final. Had Spain lost it would have been different. The match was a remake of the Euro final in many aspects, only the goalscorer was a different one.
Once again, all Germany had left was the third-place play-off and unfortunately, Müller scored in that match as well. Unfortunately, because it would make him tie with DV7 as top goalscorers, a title he would claim because he had more assists even though Spain's best striker deserved it way more than him. If he hadn't missed the penalty – or if he scored in the final, but we'll get to that later – he would have won another Golden Boot. Actually, it would have also been his if the three other players with five goals didn't score in the semi final or third place play-off. (Why couldn't all four of them get it like they did earlier?) Until the semi final, he was solely leading the goalscorers list. Why he was only awarded the Bronze Ball I'll never understand either. It should have been at least silver. Only one Man of the Match trophy was added to his collection but he should have won four of them. He always got a lot less recognition than he deserved which is a shame since he carried them to the semi final on his own.
The Netherlands had to be beaten to win the World Cup title. Sadly, I couldn't watch the final since I had to be rested for school the next day. I was very sad about it because I would have loved to support them, especially one certain player. Paul chose Spain to win what I considered a good omen. My sister's reaction that I could hear from my room said everything, and on the next day I got the confirmation that Spain won the World Cup. Once again I was disappointed by the goalscorer's name, but the joy about Spain winning was bigger. My favourites usually never win, except for now. They deserved it so much. However, Spain found a new hero in their final goalscorer, whose name fittingly rhymed with fiesta
. He got the whole appreciation while the true hero's achievements weren't recognized. It's questionable whether they would have won without him since he was involved in six out of eight goals (that almost never happened), a 75% rate which is a record since 1962. If only he had scored the winning goal, he wouldn't be this underrated.
The chronicals of a final
I wasn't able to watch the final, but I saw recaps. A lot of recaps. And eight years later, I would watch the final in full length for the first time. The Spaniards had a wild start and their first chance came in the fourth minute already, while the Dutch were busy kicking their opponents rather than the ball. No minute passed that didn't include at least one foul. It was a travesty that the Dutch weren't down ten men after the first half an hour. That kick really looked painful and should have been a straight red card. In the twelth minute DV7 had his first – and, in my opinion, best –chance. Another angle and the ball could have gone in instead of hitting the net. After that he didn't have another opportunity until he stood open near the goal and waved to his team mate for the ball but Pedro didn't pass to him and tried himself. In the second half time things got dangerous for Spain but their goalkeeper stayed true to his nickname, „the Saint“, with one of the most spectacular saves. Between the 70th and 80th minute DV7 made four (!) attempts, one of them being a free kick. In the 70th minute he looked certain to score but the ball flew into the sky. How could he miss? He was literally positioned in front of the goal. Apparently a Dutch defender kicked the ball high but I can't see him touching it with his feet. A header from
Ramos (sorry, I couldn't resist) was the last big chance for Spain in the second half time. After 90 minutes the match was still goalless – it could have been at least five by now – so it had to go to extra time. The Spanish 6, 8 and 10 fell to the ground one after another after being fouled and it looked unwillingly funny. The latter, Fabregas, then ruined a big chance for DV7 by not passing the ball to him and shooting it to the goalkeeper's feet instead. I really feel like busting my head to the table. Iniesta would do the same minutes later. There wouldn't be another opportunity for DV7. Including off-sides I count 12 attempts and three denied opportunities for him. He really wanted to score a goal in his most important game but somehow it just didn't work out. Oh, how I wish that he scored! A shot from Navas minutes later looked like a goal but the ball only hit the net on the outside. What the coach did at the beginning of the second half of extra time was simply unbelievable: He subbed DV7 off! How could he dare? He might have scored in the last fifteen minutes! In a possible penalty shoot-out he would have been missed, what would be reason enough to let him continue. If I had watched the final back then I probably would have screamed! Minutes later the Dutch got their long overdue red card – but it wasn't the kicker who also would have deserved one. The red card was understandable, but not for the foul that got him sent off. Iniesta-fiesta overacted a bit as he was barely touched. However he dared to tackle the legendary number 7 – that alone deserves a punishment he then got with his first yellow card – and committed some other fouls. He was the one who prevented said player's big chance. It would be the player who caused the red card that would punish the Dutch by scoring the winning goal. The golden pass came from Fabregas who did something right for once. Eight goals were enough to triumph, and they became the eighth nation to become World Champion. Eight is my favourite number, that makes Spain's win even better. It would be just the beginning of an eventful year that would be full of highlights.