Champions League

Champions League seems to be win win combination.From the prospective of the Club interest of the top shelve and the spectators, who ultimately will benefit of the constant raising the bar by the clubs in question
Let’s just elaborate a little…taking on the plate as an example EPL versus the importance of this Champions League
Just to considering the top clubs like Chelsea,or Arsenal,like MU,MC etc teams that have the highest expectations.It goes hand to hand with as well attracting the players to maintain the highest level at the given club.What will happened if those clubs will failed to qualify to top 4 teams?
Failing to qualify would leave the teams with option to Europa League.The question is whether the players like Aguero or Sanchez, will they be willing to stay in the club which can’t offered them Champions League? On the other side of the coin,will the clubs will be able to attract top players not offering them the highest Championship in football? Not all the top players will accept Europa League.So the stakes are high,the revenue coming off the Champions League participation is an platform to many clubs to further development, signing with lucrative brands like Adidas etc.
Presently in Champions League we are actually witnessing at the Quarter-finals remaining 8 teams and we are past first leg of quarter-finals
Except,Wolfsburg FC there are no surprises for me.I think that Atletico Madrid is very impressive and under Diego Simeone made huge step forward.It is now an serious opponent for Barca and Real M in LaLiga and the Champions League
My favourite club FC Barcelona, was on the top of their game first……. in the office department.Signing players like Suarez,Neymar was right on target.The club just can’t lose on this.First of all,one thing is to sign big player but the other is to match them with the best player in the world to create deadly MSN.I won’t be modest by saying that I was the first one,who actually come up with the signature “MSN” on twitter known now around the world.
Secondary the value of Neymar,Suarez double by now and they are presently except Ronaldo and Messi(of course) the hottest property on the market.So Barca is in win win situation.I remember thinking only a moment however,that Barca will have too many offensive players,with Iniesta joining the offensive force as a playmaker as well and maybe that can creates team unbalance.It was unnecessary worries.Addition of Rakitic,offensive work ethic defenders covering the space and excellent team positioning pay the dividents.Barca is an unit which in my opinion will be hard to beat.It is my #1 candidate to win the Champions League,the highest achievement in football
Looking forward to coming up second leg the the Quarter -Finals and drawing some feedback here after the Champions League will come to conclusion
Of course the players will go back to their respective league afterword’s and just around the corner we will welcome next biggest football event European Championship.I know I will be missing MSN from Barca,that’s for sure.The good thing is that at least myself,I’m seeing the National matches a little bit differently than the club level.And I hope that all fans watching, will find the competition very interesting as well

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Triple crowned FC Barcelona

Triple crowned FC Barca absolutely dominated on the club level in Europe.I have been fascinated with their primacy and I think,Barca today is at the highest point of their achievements
Of course for most of the clubs the economical resources are limited but then there are clubs out there which whether with good infrastructure or not,still struggle to reach their potential
In the time where football is reaching sky limit with it’s popularity and enthusiasm around the world,FIFA must constantly introduces new regulations to just keep up with the demand.Today all the clubs on the premier div level must provide academies for young players up to 18 years old.The Academies are responsible for providing education,training,board and food for their young players.FC Barcelona excel in this department very well.La Masia (Farmhouse) serves as the youth academy for FC Barca.The academy nurtures young talent and familiarizes players to Barca fluid and quick style of play.From playing together at such a young age,the teammates build a cohesion that is visible when they graduate to the first team
Players like Andres Iniesta,Xavi,Cesc Fabregas,Gerard Pique,Puyol,Busquets,Messi,Pedro,Valdes are all coming from La Masia
La Masia is been such a success that other clubs across Europe are integrating similar youth academies
And,this is only one component in FC Barca .We know that La Masia it is a process but the fans expect success today.To be able to stay on the top,there is much more needed to be done.My attention turned to so many great players coming in and coming out from from Barca.Would this not to be the common problem of the clubs and National Teams as well? Some may wonder,why Real Madrid goes for the highest in the history transfer of Gareth Bale if they already have world class strikers like Benzema,Ronaldo or Isco? The answer is,to perform on the highest level the team must be ready to face any challenges and they must have the resources at the highest value.There can be implications of the transfers as well and quite typical too.Often players who either leaving or coming in,influences the style and the shape of the team the negative way.The so called unfortunate transfers,can slow down the club performance which maybe costly for some clubs. They have aspirations to be a part of European League or even Champions League
The transition resulting in the two way movements in Barca seems to work for the club very well.Millions of hard currency were paid for such a players like Neymar and Suarez.While players like Villa,Eto or Ibrahimovic all world class players had their ups and downs,Neymar,Suarez and Messi already are considered as the best trio “MSN” in the world.No matter how great the trio is,still without the other players on the team,coaches and the managements their success would not be there.Today Barca achievement is not a matter of luck or the coincident. I’m sure that before the competitions,in the poll, majority would voted Barca as a favourite.

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Champions League revenues distribution

The Competition of the Champions League is in full gear now.I think the 2014 went forgotten.We have all the big players on the scene showing their skills while the the whole football world is watching
The stake is huge and we would like to address the details of the new in fact distribution system of the revenue adopted by UEFA
The new system has significant increase from the 2012-15 cycle
Apparently all the revenues will be centralized for the first time into one pot in the ratio of 3:3:1 between Champions League and UEFA Europe League.In the cycle of 2012-15 we had 2 separate pots ,one for the Champions League and one for the Europe LeagueThe ratio was,every 1 euro clubs in Europe League received,the clubs in Champions League received 4.3 euro

The global forecast pot per season available for the distribution to clubs in UEFA ch.l amounts to 1.257bn
Clubs involved in the playoffs will receive 50m euro: 2m euro to each play-offs winner and 3m euro to the eliminated clubs
The amount of 1,207bn euro available for the group stage clubs will be split between fixed amount and market pool which will be reduced from 45% to 40% of the total
Here is the breakdown
FIXED AMOUNTS (724’4m)
Group Stage fee 12m euro
Group stage performance 1,5 m euro win/draw 500k draw
Round of 16 5,5 m euro
Quarter-finals 6m euro
Semi finals 7m euro
Final 15m winners/10,5m runners up

Additionally the winners of the 2015 UEFA Super Cup will receive 4m euro and runners up 3m euro
Market pool (€482.9m)

• The amount of €482.9m will be distributed according to the proportional value of each TV market represented by the clubs taking part in the UEFA Champions League (group stage onwards) and be split among the clubs participating from a given association.

• In accordance with the existing system, half of the amount representing the value of each market will be split among the clubs based on their performance in the previous domestic league championship and the other half will be paid in proportion to the number of matches played by each team in the 2015/16 UEFA Champions League.

• Each time that a club of an association represented by one or more clubs in the UEFA Champions League group stage is eliminated in the play-offs, 10% of the respective association’s market pool share will be allocated to the eliminated club. This is a new arrangement, which was not contemplated in the distribution system beforehand.

Solidarity payments to clubs not qualified to the group stages

An enhanced distribution system for solidarity payments for clubs not competing in the UEFA Champions League or UEFA Europa League group stage has also been adopted by UEFA for the 2015-18 cycle.

• The distribution to clubs participating in the qualification phases of either competition (except those qualifying to the group stage of the UEFA Champions League, which will not be entitled to these solidarity payments) will represent 3.5% of the overall revenues. An amount of at least €78.6m will be distributed, compared to €47.5m in the 2012-15 cycle, thus representing an increase of around 60%.

• Clubs eliminated prior to the group stage will receive the following amounts per round: €200k in the first qualifying round, €300k in the second qualifying round and €400k in the third qualifying round (this latter, if not involved in the UEFA Champions League play-offs). In addition, any domestic champion not qualified for the group stage of the UEFA Champions League will receive €250k.

Solidarity payments to clubs not qualified for UEFA club competitions

• A total of €112m will be distributed to national associations and/or leagues for their clubs, compared to €82.4m in the 2012-15 cycle, thus representing an increase of more than 35%. 80% of this amount will be distributed to national associations and/or leagues with at least one club participating in the UEFA Champions League group stage and 20% to national associations and/or leagues without participating clubs. Only clubs not participating in the group stage of either competition will be entitled to a share of these solidarity payments.

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.. The Kings of Europe

It was all Germany this time around and no losers in this final.The Cup stayed in Germany.Millions of the people from around the World and packed Wemblay had the opportunity to witness solid match up between two German teams.
The atmosphere before the game was tremendous.The teams performed well,the intensity and the tempo of the match was high.What else could we expect it? I think Champions League did not disappointed this time for sure.Personally I would never expected that Barca and Real Madrid players and coaches will have to take the spectators seat but this is what we want to see because that only states that it is easier to win the Cup then to keep it.We are expecting nothing less from from next Champions League
And finally on the other note….. it would take to play finals in Champions League for Germans to rap

Take a look and enjoy it

and how about German Snoop Dog

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Borussia Dortmund Bayern Munich in Champions League Final

It has been quite a journey…Nine months ago, 32 teams across Europe were just dreaming of walking out beneath Wembley’s famous arch in late May.
After a long campaign of thrills, spills, shocks and horrors, just two remain. Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund will use to contest the Champions League Final.
After seeing off the of Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona this week, the two sides will play out the first Champions League Final featuring two German teams.

Jerseys of German football clubs Bayern

Do ultimetely Champions League semi-final exits for Barcelona and Real signal the end of Spain’s golden football era?
Were they humiliated? Yes. But is it too soon to announce the end of Spain’s golden era?

German football financial philosophy is very different from the Spanish one. In Spain the aim is winning at any cost, perhaps explaining why several Primera Division clubs are at risk of bankruptcy, whereas the German approach “German football has been improving since 2008 because football clubs are obliged to have training centers for the more disciplined, and spending is carefully regulated.

All this has opened an international debate about a football power shift from Spain to Germany.

“I wonder who would be favourites now in an international match between Spain and Germany”, Michael Owen tweeted yesterday after Barça’s defeat.

He’s not alone in wondering this. Important figures in the football world such as former Real coach Bernd Schuster think that Spain’s cycle of dominance is coming to an end.

It is true that ‘football works in generations’ and that key players of Spain’s golden generation such as Xavi, Casillas, Puyol, Villa or Xabi Alonso have grown older and their physical ability has changed over the years – indeed those players are expected to retire after World Cup 2014.

Spain’s football style is also becoming too familiar. Rivals now know the Spanish style of play, indeed it is the same strategy used by the team that feeds more players to the national team La Roja: FC Barcelona.

Many are stating that Barça’s recent defeats in the Champions League show that this style has become too predictable. Players use the famous possession strategy but they don’t score. They lack speed and versatility in the penalty box

Yet in the light of ‘Spain’s economy which is not the envy of the world,Spanish people could say “but we have the best football team’.

So Spain, in its current situation, with more millions people unemployed, cannot afford to lose faith in its football.

Spanish dominance in football will depend on the next generations of Spanish players. Juan Mata and David de Gea are promising examples for English clubs Chelsea and Manchester United respectively.

Despite all different opinions, Spain is still the best football team in the world. According to Gaby Ruíz, Canal + sports journalist, Spain will be the ‘favorite in the next World Cup’.
I would like to personally elaborate which style is more readable.In my opinion creative football should be considered more unpredictable.If players are taught from early age to express themselves on the field instead to be locked up in systems,strategies what I think actually will be predictable on the end.If we take two players on the field let’s say Totti versus David Beckham.I would think it will be much more difficult to know what is going to do on the ball Totti but we can predicted what is going to do Beckham.Most likely Beckham will make a run on the wing and will crossed the ball.What Totti is going to do many time is conflicting any strategies,systems.Yet he will be doing well on any defense
It will be very much interested to find out some answers probably on the World Cup 2014.As of now the disciplined football based on excellent organized development from youth in Germany will pay the dividends.Well it does now ,it did paid in the past and will pay the dividends in the future.However creative,free football should prevailed because it is based on pure ability to play the ball based on technique and skills.Let me put it this way…the foundation under the greatness in football like in every other team sport I believe is laying in the talent and ability to play the ball supported by excellent physical,strategical,tactical preparation but not the other way around
Players likes Maradona,Platini,Messi,Zidane, were exceeding because they were able come out above and out of any system and this is the direction we should take in football development from early ages
We want to progress in football with finesse and skills and have well physically ,tactically ready players but let’s not forget that football as the most popular sport on the earth is not because we are growing super human athletes equipped with mysterious unsolved tactics.(In this department there is no secrets anyways…)The spectators wants to admire the arts, creativeness and pure beauty of the game

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Borussia Dortmund Real Madrid 4:1

YES,it is……
It was a great show.To me small World Cup game,European Championship game.This is why we have a Champions League if someone would wonder
In this report I would like to look closer at the circumstances leading to the four goals scored by absolute hero of this match Robert Lewandowski.Not the Christiano Ronaldo,not the Higuin or Benzema or Kaka only Polish striker Robert Lewandowski.
I thought that every goal and I have a link for you here to analyze for yourself and to comment it, shows the highest quality of the striker Here it is http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xzaj88_borussia-dortmund-4-real-madrid-1-champions-league-2013_sport
Let’s see the first goal where Lewandowski displayed number of moves to put himself on position to actually score the goal.Please watch not the player who passes the ball to him but watch the behavior and the movement of Lewandowski with Pepe before the pass.Pepe knows that he has Lewandowski close but Robert is positioning himself making sure that in the final moment of receiving the ball he is actually sitting on the back of Pepe so he actually controls the situation to the point that he knows when should he force himself in .To me it is an ability to keep cool head in penalty area and thinking to the last moment.
The second goal I though was a display of focus and observation what was happening around him.He was making sure that in the moment of the pass he is lining up against the player he was facing who had his back to him.Again Lewandowski use this defender to his benefit.In post match interview which I saw,the reporter asked him, which of the goals was most difficult and he responded the second one because he had to turn.So then he had to turn and did it fast with full ball control knowing still where the goalie was and placing the ball where he want it to
The third goal was obviously already voted , the most beautiful goal of the match.One little thing I have noticed again.It is worth it to mention because actually in this particular movement before he scored the goal he displayed the same attitude as I noticed with previous goals.It was a technical move which required again his patience.Most of the strikers after receiving the pass would try to shoot one move earlier and I’m talking about the third goal situation .Robert however let this ball run a little bit further so Pepe can loose his footage.This way Robert had time even if it is split seconds to shoot.So,to make this move in busy penalty box with one of the best defense in the world it must be a player who can really keep his head cool.Very important for strikers to have the killer instinct.
I hope everyone will see the goals here again and let’s look forward to great rematch in Madrid

Mike Kubik
Players Agent
UEFA A Coach

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Post game Barca Bayern

Well,well it is been a quite sometime since I have visited my Blog wow.My apology….some consolation is the fact that in the “news” on my web I have a little more updated posts
Going back however right to the source I would like to share some of my thoughts also about declining form of Barca as many speculates today….Not so fast however because every change has it’s own reason and I would like to put the brakes on a little bit here to see if we have a case. Certainly Barca was the team that everyone admired and pretty much majority agreed that this is a simple best team in the world. I believe like most of the people we could finally see a team which dominated the game with expression of great technique,skills and beauty.I remember Maradona was asked about Messi once and he said that Messi performance on the field is saving football today.What did he meant? Well, football industry became a giant now in the world market and also became excellent tool to offset political and economical problems in today’s world .The enthusiasm generated around the world is simple very very important for the people.But,the game must continuously provide the dynamics in the form of great display on the field entertaining the audience.Just like any changes in rules of the game jeopardizes the popularity of the game ,this is why there are debates for years now, should extra referees to be allowed to be present or even replays should be introduced.All would be important tools to protect the correct decisions but it seems to be even more important to not implement it on the expense of the game itself. Having this in mind my point is that as mentioned above Barca provided a style which clearly requires arts and beauty to the satisfaction of the spectators of course.I thought what Maradona had in mind was sort of a fear as I understood that for some time now we are observing ongoing desire ,huge desire to win the game by any means.As we know now,football has a lot of to offer and there is a lot of revenue associated with this industry.That is prompting further the development of the game not necessary always in right direction. Of course Coaches in modern football are no more working with the team on their own with assistant only.They have now specialists from the physical preparation,psychologist,physiologist…who are constantly working on the new methods of training . For instance in past, many coaches thought that speed component is a genetic condition only.Modern science says that speed still can be corrected and improved by special training. So there is positive side of the modern physical training of course but there is in consideration negative effects of it as well. Intensification of the physical training is the key component which I thought may jeopardize the beauty of the game.Especially with the conjunction of the desire with the physical preparation based on the same desire in tactical department which promotes the style of the game rather destructive on the pitch than creative.Now,how are we going to draw the analogy to the Barcelona match lost 4:0 to Bayern Munich.Well In my opinion I would like to put people in ease as I still believe that creative football will still prevail.Simply because I believe that no matter how physically and tactically( providing that tactics serves to protect the score only) the skills and ability to simple play the ball should always win I sincerely think that based on truthful over all media commentary after the match that Germans overpower physically Barca in this game and displayed very disciplined tactical performance there will be not a turn back from what Barca represents.Not from creative,free football versus the rational football, with physical dominance.I thought then that there were just a simply reason that Barca lost badly.Those are ,Messi was not performing as he usually does and .The lineup was this time not correct.Fabregas on the bench,Villa coming on in 83 min of the game,Messi was on the field if someone would wonder…Barca missed a leader in this game..Bayern in return was in excellent shape and in deed took perfectly advantage from not well prepared to this game Barca
Someone said it is hard to became a champion but even harder to keep it and with this remark I would let you to develop further your own take on it
Of course I know now that Germany Dortmund Team destroyed Real Madrid.I will here comment this post match as well but to draw any deeper conclusions I would suggest to wait until teams are going to meet in rematch again

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2012 Activator Camp European Championship

For the enthusiastic fans and supporters who don’t want to miss European Championship 2012 has been created Activator Camp 2012
It is situated in just 5 min walk from the football stadium and many convenient transportation options (3 min from the railway and bus stops)
Activator Camp offers it guests many additional services.Polish food,beer garden are only one of few being available at hand
There will be 24 hours security to ensure safe stay at the Camp

The concept alone will create excellent opportunity to give foreign visitors the chance to get to know Polish culture and spend the time in Poland best possible way
Packages will be available for purchase on-line at www.e-activator.pl from the beginning of May 2012
In the first round of the sales prices per per person staying in tent for two are as low as:
match night-around 26 euros nights +1,-1 around 19 euro and the remaining dates of June around 8 euro
In addition to competitive pricing Activator Camp 2012 as the only in Gdansk,offers accommodation with unique view at the football Championship
Enjoy!

We are going to comment more on coming up European Championship soon

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Rules and implications

Hello Everybody!

Sorry it has been a while before I have posted anything here.There is no excuse as I usually don’t like to look for one.Simply I wasn’t here and I apologize hoping that we can interact more often
Well ,the World Cup is well over.
FIFA panel looks to improve World Cup in 2014

ZURICH (AP) — A FIFA task force will suggest ways of improving soccer at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter said Friday he wants “a more attractive World Cup” than he saw in South Africa. Seven of 64 matches were goalless, including six in a cautiously played opening phase.
So,we have something to look forward as farest World Cup and all other Football Championship
Every time at least for me major tournament like those mentioned above I’m trying to be a little bit analytical.My subject of interest is to observe technical and tactical ability of the participated teams.However physical and even psychological preparation is constantly shaped as well and every World Cup we can see something different with the National Teams .Today Teams are well equipped with a Head Coach,Physical Preparation Coach ,Physiologist,Psychologist ,Nutritionist …..There is a lot of in stake and even relatively recent changes in allowing players to represent country which is not a country of birth(more and detailed information on this topic you can find at www.intergoalsports.com in section “news”) will be an additional step to pursuit to dominance in game of football
All this is exciting because it says a lot about what is really happening in each of the countries in terms of training,science in sport,organizational aspect etc .Of course winning or loosing sometimes is not a definite answer which teams is better but in global prospective this is the pejorative we would like to go by Not to mention that for instants Poland and Ukraine being extremely proud to host 2012 event, are going thru major infrastructure consisted on buildings new stadiums,hotels and even rebuilding roads and transforming transportation.
As a Players Agent who is also entertaining in my activities young football prospects from around the world the enthusiasm and success of FIFA , reflects also the movement of the players and transfer market
In order to assist young players from outside of European Union, FIFA observes a law which forbids players under 18 to sign a professional contract.This is suppose to stop the import of the young players under 18 especially from African Countries who once in Europe and for different reason not able to sign a contract, on many occasions were left on their own.It is worth to mention that players between 16 and 18 years old with European background going back to grandparents are able to sign a minor contract with the club in question.As a result the club then have the obligation to provide for the player the accommodation,education and football training until the end of the minor contract.Usually once the player reach 18 years of age the club will decide it if they want to sign the player to a pro contract
Those rules and regulations are the next steps forward to assist young players with options as well as are reflecting the demand in growing football industry
All those aspects and issues within the industry of football requires governing body of FIFA to stay on the top of the beautiful game

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Spain wins its 1st World Cup (Jul.13)

The most beautiful words in Spain today are “uno-cero,” 1-0, the magical score line for each of La Furia Roja’s last four victories in the World Cup. Portugal and Paraguay were overmatched, while the youthful Germans were simply overwhelmed by the prospect of playing a team that could hold onto the ball as if it were velcroed to its feet. But the tough-minded Dutch, playing in front of what was essentially a home crowd, didn’t come to Soccer City with a just-glad-to-be-on-the-same-field-with-the-mythic-pass-masters attitude. To win this match and finally exorcise the curse of perennial underachievers on soccer’s biggest stage, the Spanish would have to overcome boot-to-the-sternum tackles while containing a team on a 25-match unbeaten streak that possessed a swagger equal to their own.

History will show that Spain won the 2010 final on a brilliant piece of technical skill by Andres Iniesta, the Robin to Xavi’s Batman. But what is frustrating — not to mention scary for the rest of the soccer world — is that we saw only a tantalizing glimpse of how beguiling the Spanish game can be. The team that claimed the Euro championship in 2008 did so with a mixture of disdain and fluidity that heralded the birth of a potent new brand of soccer.

The 2010 version of La Furia Roja didn’t place their cleats on the throat of this tournament, as much as they tap danced their way through it like a one-legged man in a minefield. Whether it was the opening slip-up against Switzerland, the strain of expectations that this World Cup was their manifest destiny, or the replacing of 2008 coach Luis Aragones with the relentlessly dour Vincente del Bosque, Spain was unable to raise its game to the lyrical heights of Euro, no matter how stylish its buildup play was.

The abiding hope was that the Dutch, with their own history of passing artistry and a turbo-charged attack that had scored an impressive 11 goals going into the final, would force Spain to shift into a higher gear. And yet, I can’t remember when we saw such a hideous first half played by teams from which so much was expected.

Some of that is easily explained away — not only are the stakes the highest the sport can offer, but also both sides had previously started slowly in their big World Cup matches. Beyond that, the Oranje were never going to let Spain vivisect them with its intricate triangles, and so they adopted a “maul first, get the ball later” approach that effectively dared the Spaniards to pass while being splattered all over the field. After four bookings in the first 22 minutes, I thought we were witnessing the sequel to Holland’s infamous 1-0 loss to Portugal in the last World Cup, a historic orgy of bad behavior in which the referee handed out 16 yellows and four reds.

In that game, Holland’s midfield enforcer, Mark Van Pummel — sorry, Van Bommel — was booked for a studs-up tackle on Cristiano Ronaldo 95 seconds after kickoff. This time, referee Howard Webb was downright Zen with the hard-charging Dutchman, waiting ’til the 22nd minute, after Van Bommel buzz sawed Xavi, to finally show him a yellow. The English referee, a part-time Yorkshire police sergeant, then acted as if he had a quota to meet, brandishing cards with the joyful abandon that you could only wish had been shared by the players themselves.

When a soccer game occasionally broke out amid the kung fu festival, the Spanish continued to display unwavering belief in their superior technique — no passing lane was too narrow for Xavi, no space too tight for Iniesta to wriggle out of. But for most of the match, it was the Dutch, specifically Arjen Robben, who looked more likely to score.

Robben is one of the most electric players in the game but it’s his speed and guile more than his temperament that is his great strength. Twice faced with opportunities to be the Dutch savior, his composure betrayed him. The first time, he ran onto a defense-splitting pass from Wesley Sneijder and bore down on the onrushing Iker Casillas, as 100,000 Spanish fans in Madrid reached for their collective rosary beads. Robben shot low to Casillas’ left as the Spanish keeper dove to his right. The Spanish plea for divine intervention was answered, as the ball found the outside of the clueless Casillas’ trailing boot to drift harmlessly wide of the post.

In the 83rd minute, Robben was set free again by Sneijder and got a half-step in the box on Carles Puyol, who, if he got any closer — for a second, his arm was around the Dutchman’s waist — would have been arrested on a morals charge. Puyol was able to jostle Robben just enough to cause him to lose control and allow Casillas to smother the ball. When Robben immediately got up in Webb’s grill, screaming for a penalty, he, too, was booked.

By resorting to brutish physical tactics, the Dutch had hoped to take the Spaniards out of their carefully calibrated rhythm, and for 116 minutes it worked, even if it made for some ugly soccer. But in the end, Spain simply had too much poise and skill. And when Cesc Fabregas, who came on as a substitute late in regulation and re-energized the midfield, rolled the ball into the path of Iniesta, the best player on the field Sunday calmly lashed a fierce side volley into the far corner of the net.

So the Spaniards are campeones del mundo for the next four years. And while I haven’t talked to Paul the Octopus lately, I’m guessing he likes Spain’s chances in 2014.

David Hirshey is the co-author (with Roger Bennett) of “The ESPN World Cup Companion: Everything You Need to Know About the Planet’s Biggest Sporting Event.”

ESPN Conversations
184 comments+ Add your comment

TyHoward24 says: July 12, 2010, 2:30 PM ETHolland did play very aggresively yesterday. I have no problem with it, to be honest. Gotta do whatever it takes to win. Unfortunately for them, Spain was unflappable, which is exactly why I believe they are justified as champions. They kept their cool throughout the game, and eventually cooler heads prevailed.

Lineups
Netherlands: Maarten Stekelenburg; Gregory van der Wiel, John Heitinga, Joris Mathijsen, Giovanni van Bronckhorst (Edson Braafheid 105); Mark van Bommel, Nigel de Jong (Rafael van der Vaart 99); Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder, Dirk Kuyt (Eljero Elia 71); Robin van Persie

Spain: Iker Casillas; Sergio Ramos, Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique, Joan Capdevila; Sergio Busquets, Xabi Alonso (Francesc Fabregas 87); Andres Iniesta, Xavi, Pedro (Jesus Navas 60); David Villa (Fernando Torres 106).

===

Netherlands 0-0-0–0

Spain 0-0-1–1

(At Johannesburg)

Scoring: Spain–Andres Iniesta 116.

Yellow Cards: Netherlands–Robin van Persie 15, Mark van Bommel 22, Nigel de Jong 28, Giovanni van Bronckhorst 54, John Heitinga 57, Arjen Robben 84, Gregory van der Wiel 111, Joris Mathijsen 117. Spain–Carles Puyol 17, Sergio Ramos 23, Joan Capdevila 67, Andres Iniesta 118, Xavi 120+1.

Red Card: Netherlands–John Heitinga 109.

Att: 84,490.

(Jul. 13, 2010)
World Cupgo

Spain wins its 1st World Cup (Jul.13)

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