Belfast Telegraph

Friday 4 September 2015

Steven Beacom: Spain's World Cup win a victory for brains over brawn

Published 12/07/2010

Spain fans enjoy the atmosphere during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Final match between Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City Stadium on July 11, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa
Spain fans enjoy the atmosphere during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Final match between Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City Stadium on July 11, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa
Fernando Torres of Spain lifts the World Cup trophy as the Spain team celebrate victory following the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Final match between Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City Stadium on July 11, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa
Spain fans enjoy the atmosphere during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Final match between Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City Stadium on July 11, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa
Iker Casillas, captain of Spain (C), celebrate with his team mates after they won the World Cup in a 1-0 victory over Holland at Soccer City Stadium on July 11, 2010 in Johannesburg
Iker Casillas of Spain kisses the World Cup trophy as the Spain team celebrate victory following the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Final match between Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City Stadium on July 11, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa
David Villa holds the World Cup trophy after Spain's 1-0 win over Holland in Johannesburg
Spaniards celebrate in Madrid while watching on an outdoor tv screen Spain play The Netherlands in the FIFA World Cup Final on July 11, 2010 in Madrid, Spain
Iker Casillas, captain of Spain (C), and the Spain team celebrate victory with the World Cup trophy during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Final match between Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City Stadium on July 11, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa
Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas holds up the World Cup trophy as he and other team members celebrate, as South African President Jacob Zuma, front right, and FIFA president Sepp Blatter, second from right in front, look on
The Spanish team pose for photographers with the World Cup trophy following the World Cup final soccer match between the Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City in Johannesburg, South Africa
The Spain team and staff celebrate victory with the World Cup trophy following the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Final match between Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City Stadium on July 11, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa
Sergio Ramos of Spain celebrates winning the World Cup during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Final match between Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City Stadium on July 11, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa
A Spain fan enjoys the atmosphere prior to the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Final match between Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City Stadium on July 11, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa
Spain fans enjoy the atmosphere during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Final match between Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City Stadium on July 11, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa
The Spain team celebrate winning the World Cup during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Final match between Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City Stadium on July 11, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa
Sergio Ramos of Spain celebrates winning the World Cup during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Final match between Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City Stadium on July 11, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa
Spaniards celebrate in Madrid while watching on an outdoor tv screen Spain play The Netherlands in the FIFA World Cup Final on July 11, 2010 in Madrid, Spain
Carles Puyol celebrates after Spain's World Cup final win over Holland
Eljero Elia of the Netherlands shows his dejection at the final whistle after losing the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Final match between Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City Stadium on July 11, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa
Xavi Hernandez of Spain kisses the World Cup as he collects his medal during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Final match between Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City Stadium on July 11, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa
David Villa and Sergio Ramos of Spain lift the World Cup trophy as the Spain team celebrate victory following the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Final match between Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City Stadium on July 11, 2010
Spaniards celebrate in Madrid while watching on an outdoor tv screen Spain play The Netherlands in the FIFA World Cup Final on July 11, 2010 in Madrid, Spain
Sergio Ramos of Spain lifts the World Cup trophy amongst a melee of media and security following the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Final match between Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City Stadium on July 11, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa
Sergio Ramos of Spain kisses the World Cup trophy as the Spain team celebrate victory following the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Final match between Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City Stadium on July 11, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa
Spain's Andres Iniesta celebrates after scoring a goal during the World Cup final soccer match between the Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City in Johannesburg, South Africa
Fireworks explode as the Spain team celebrate victory with the World Cup trophy following the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Final match between Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City Stadium on July 11, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa
Maarten Stekelenburg of the Netherlands looks dejected as Andres Iniesta of Spain scores the opening goal late into extra time during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Final match between Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City Stadium on July 11, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa
Spanish fans celebrate the goal as they watch in Barcelona's Plaza Espana a live broadcast of the World Cup soccer final between Spain and the Netherlands, which is being played in South Africa, on Sunday, July 11, 2010
Spanish fans celebrate Spain's Andres Iniesta's goal as they watch a live broadcast at Recoletos' boulevard of the World Cup soccer final against the Netherlands, which is being played in South Africa, in Madrid on Sunday, July 11, 2010
Spanish fans celebrate the goal as they watch in Barcelona's Plaza Espana a live broadcast of the World Cup soccer final between Spain and the Netherlands, which is being played in South Africa, on Sunday, July 11, 2010
San Fermin revelers at Pamplona's Plaza del Castillo watch a live broadcast of the World Cup soccer final, which is being played in South Africa, after Spain's defeated the Netherlands 1-0 on Sunday, July 11, 2010
Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas, back to camera, hugs Sergio Busquets after the World Cup final soccer match between the Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City in Johannesburg, South Africa
Andres Iniesta of Spain scores the winning goal during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Final match between Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City Stadium on July 11, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa
Andres Iniesta of Spain scores the winning goal past Maarten Stekelenburg of the Netherlands during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Final match between Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City Stadium on July 11, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa
Spain's Andres Iniesta, right, scores a goal past Netherlands goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg, left, during the World Cup final soccer match between the Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City in Johannesburg, South Africa
Spain's Andres Iniesta, left, scores a goal past Netherlands' Rafael van der Vaart during the World Cup final soccer match between the Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City in Johannesburg, South Africa
Andres Iniesta of Spain celebrates scoring the opening goal late into extra time during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Final match between Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City Stadium on July 11, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa
Andres Iniesta of Spain celebrates scoring the winning goal during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Final match between Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City Stadium on July 11, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa
Netherlands' Joris Mathijsen, left, holds the ball as he argues with referee Howard Webb after Spain's Andres Iniesta scored during the World Cup final soccer match between the Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City in Johannesburg, South Africa
Referee Howard Webb of England, right, shows the red card to Netherlands' John Heitinga, left, during the World Cup final soccer match between the Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City in Johannesburg, South Africa
Arjen Robben of the Netherlands chases Referee Howard Webb during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Final match between Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City Stadium on July 11, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa
David Villa of Spain misses a goal scoring chance as goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg of the Netherlands dives and John Heitinga and Gregory Van Der Wiel attempt to block during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Final match between Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City Stadium on July 11, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa
Netherlands' Wesley Sneijder, standing right, helps his teammate Nigel de Jong, left, stretch as Spain's Xavi Hernandez reacts during the World Cup final soccer match between the Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City in Johannesburg
Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas, left, makes a save above Netherlands' Robin van Persie, right, and Spain's Carles Puyol, bottom, during the World Cup final soccer match between the Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City in Johannesburg, South Africa
Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas, right, warms up as his girlfriend, Spanish television broadcast journalist Sara Carbonero, foreground left, works from the sidelines before the World Cup final soccer match between the Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City in Johannesburg, South Africa
Girlfriend of Wesley Sneijder of the Netherlands, Yolanthe Cabau van Kasbergen, attends the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Final match between Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City Stadium on July 11, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa
Sylvie Van der Vaart, wife of Rafael Van der Vaart of the Netherlands enjoys the atmosphere ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Final match between Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City Stadium on July 11, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa
Sylvie Van der Vaart, wife of Rafael Van der Vaart of the Netherlands enjoys the atmosphere ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Final match between Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City Stadium on July 11, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa
Sylvie Van der Vaart (C), wife of Rafael Van der Vaart of the Netherlands enjoys the atmosphere ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Final match between Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City Stadium on July 11, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa
A Spain fan enjoys the atmopshere ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Final match between Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City Stadium on July 11, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa
Football fans enjoy the atmosphere prior to the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Final match between Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City Stadium on July 11, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa
Netherlands fans enjoy the atmopshere ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Final match between Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City Stadium on July 11, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa
Netherlands fans enjoy the atmopshere ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Final match between Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City Stadium on July 11, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa
Girlfriend of Iker Casillas of Spain, Sara Carbonero, attends the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Final match between Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City Stadium on July 11, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa
A Spain fan enjoys the atmosphere prior to the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Final match between Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City Stadium on July 11, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa
Supporters of the Spanish team attend a public viewing of the World Cup final football match between Spain and Netherlands at Paseo Recoletos on July 11, 2010 in Madrid, Spain
A Spain fan enjoys the atmosphere prior to the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Final match between Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City Stadium on July 11, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa
A Netherlands fan enjoys the atmopshere ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Final match between Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City Stadium on July 11, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa
Netherlands fans enjoy the atmopshere ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Final match between Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City Stadium on July 11, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa
A Netherlands fan enjoys the atmosphere prior to the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Final match between Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City Stadium on July 11, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa
Colombian pop star Shakira, center stage, performs during the closing ceremony ahead of the World Cup final soccer match between the Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City in Johannesburg, South Africa
Supporters of the Spanish team attend a public viewing of the World Cup final football match between Spain and Netherlands at Paseo Recoletos on July 11, 2010 in Madrid, Spain
Soccer fans gather in Amsterdam's red light district, Netherlands, Sunday, July 11, 2010, ahead of the World Cup soccer final match between Netherlands and Spain
Netherlands fans enjoy the atmosphere prior to the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Final match between Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City Stadium on July 11, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa
Supporters of the Spanish team attend a public viewing of the World Cup final football match between Spain and Netherlands at Plaza Colon on July 11, 2010 in Madrid, Spain

Uruguay, Italy, Germany/West Germany, Brazil, England, Argentina and France. Now add sensational Spain to the list.

We’ve known they have been the best team on the planet for a few years.

Finally, it’s official.

In what was a hugely controversial and bad-tempered World Cup final, a touch of genuine class decided it thanks to the dazzling feet of Andres Iniesta.

In the 116th minute, the Barcelona maestro controlled a pass from substitute Cesc Fabregas in an instant inside the area and volleyed the ball into the net with a stunning strike, giving Spain a 1-0 victory over Holland in Johannesburg’s Soccer City stadium.

In that moment a nation rejoiced. And the World Cup was won. For the first time in Spain’s footballing history.

And for the first time by a European nation outside its own continent.

This wasn’t just a glorious victory for the Spanish. This was a result for the sport.

Anything else could have seen football go back to the dark ages with bully-boy tactics being applied all over the world.

Instead we can look to a future where coaches tell kids that by passing and moving and playing with brain not brawn can lead you to being the best around.

Holland’s tactics were appalling. Total Football? More like a total disgrace.

The Dutch’s game plan was to stop Spain playing. By fair means or foul. Most of it the latter.

Yes, there were a few poor challenges from the Spanish, but Holland’s tackling was way over the top — literally.

There was a real nasty edge to the Dutch — the worst of all coming in the first half when Nigel de Jong assaulted Xabi Alonso, stamping on his chest.

How he stayed on the pitch, I’ll never know. Ditto the fouling machine that is Mark van Bommel. English referee Howard Webb hoped for a quiet night. Holland made should he didn’t get one. He handed out more cards than he does at Christmas. Virtually every player in orange and a few Spaniards were booked, with Dutch defender John Heitinga ordered off in extra-time for picking up two yellows.

The stop-start nature of the contest was a major reason why there was no flow to the football in the first hour.

The other was the dreadful standard of play as Spain failed to find their famous rhythm. And that suited Holland down to the ground.

Coach Bert van Marwijk felt that making this final a pure football match would be suicide.

He believed by stifling the Spanish, his team would have it in them to produce one moment of quality to win the game. They did.

Just after the hour mark the previously anonymous Wesley Sneijder delivered a defence splitting pass that sent Arjen Robben through.

This was it for Holland. Only it wasn’t, with the outstretched leg of Iker Casillas denying the Bayern Munich winger the glory.

It was a brilliant save, but Robben should never have given him the chance to make it.

From that moment on, the game sparked into life — better late than never — with the Spanish players increasing their intensity and to their credit continuing to play their way, the right way, despite knowing they were going to get smashed at any given second.

David Villa and Sergio Ramos for Spain and Robben again for Holland could have broken the deadlock.

This was more like it. The thrills continued in extra-time with Fabregas denied by Dutch goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg. Surely a winner would come before penalties.

When Heitinga was sent off in the 110th minute, the odds on that shortened. And when that ball fell to the instinctive Iniesta it was game over.

Holland were fuming feeling the move that led to the goal started as a result of a foul against them. Such irony. The biter bit.

That’s three defeats in finals now for Holland, but unlike in 1974 and 1978, there won’t be much sympathy for the 2010 Dutchmen.

There will be joy all over the world for Vincente del Bosque’s Spain, though, who have added the golden sculpture to the European Championship trophy won two years ago.

Spain are Champions of the World.

Deservedly so.

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