Everything you need to know about the shebang in South Africa
The. World. Cup. Final.
Four of the most magical words in the English language.
For players, the very apex of their careers, the occasion they’ve been dreaming about since they first toe-poked a spheroid in a back alley, on a balmy beach, or around a disused electricity substation.
For fans, the very thought of it produces a jolt of pure ecstasy up the spine. A match they’ve been looking forward to for four years. A game they wouldn’t miss even if The Saturdays (or, er… the Chippendales) rang up and asked if they fancied bobbing round for a bubble bath.
The best match ever.
Except… it quite often isn’t. As frequent viewers know, football matches are regularly brain-bendingly appalling experiences. And the World Cup Final, despite being contested by the two top international sides, is no exception. And why should it be?
In a way, the match suffers a little from New Year’s Eve syndrome. Everyone expects it to be terrific fun, ordering in extra port and Scotch eggs and making a special sixties playlist on their iPod.
But then somebody adds ketamine to the punch, and you end up watching Jools Holland’s Hootenanny alone in your bedroom through a veil of terrified tears.
You can’t enforce merriment, and you can’t enforce a belter of a World Cup Final. It just has to happen.
So what odds a humdinger on Sunday? History offers a few lessons. While we shouldn’t expect a blinder to follow a thrilling tournament, the odds are definitely improved.
Brazil in 1970 played the best fancy keep-ball anyone had ever witnessed, and saved the best until the end, when they unleashed aesthetically-delightful merry hell on Italy.
1986, arguably the greatest tournament of them all, bowed out with a suitably enjoyable centrepiece, a 3-2 ding-dong-o-rama between Argentina and Germany.
1982, equally, was a boisterous blast of a summer with an enjoyable conclusion (Italy 3 Germany 1), and 2006 a rollercoaster competition that kept its biggest thrill – Zidane’s mental headbutt – for the last dance.
Meanwhile, 1990’s snoozefest concluded with a crime against humanity of an endgame that made most viewers claw at their own eyes and bay for mercy. 2002’s Japan-and-Korea carnival had a bubbly personality, but concluded with a dull date between Brazil and Germany.
1998, was a true mixed bag of a tournament, and often extremely poor, but is rescued in the collective memory by its newsworthy and thrilling final, as Les Blues overcame a weirdly out of sorts Brazil to send the usually nonchalant host nation apesh*t.
All of which suggests that we shouldn’t expect too much on Sunday night. 2010 has been a groundbreaking tournament with uniquely enthusiastic hosts.
It started tediously with a record amount of low-scoring meetings in the first round of group clashes, then picked up significantly, before dipping again a little in the round of 16.
The quarters and semis were decent. But South Africa went out early, too many big teams played poorly, and - bizarrely - Germany were the only team displaying any flair.
History will judge 2010 as an ‘average’ World Cup, so our bet is on a routine 2-1 or 1-0 final rather than a thriller. But an average World Cup is still better than any other sporting event on the planet by a country mile, and football’s all about the unexpected. So bring on a classic, Holland and Spain. It’s been a blast.
More World Cup stuff: Features
* Lists * Interviews
Really good blog. Yes, perhaps we've all made it seem more exciting in our minds and when you actually sit down and remember those finals, they really weren't that amazing. It's sad that we'll remember 2010's tournament for average football but then there were so many aspects that should be celebrated... gregtheoharis.wordpress.com/.../predictions
Spain for all their passing and weaving plays like a Futsal side, that's their whole secret... anyone who has ever sat down and watched a Futsal side will recognize their game-plan in an instance. Whereas Holland plays like a Calcio side, stripped of anything asthetically beautiful, Spain has underachieved for so long that they may save their best for last while Holland grinds it out and then takes care of business... Germany beat the much more pleasing in 1974, I think Holland may beat out Spain in 2010, not because they're better mind you but because if the Dutch manager has a brain on him (which he does), he'll see right through the Spanish attack style and formulate a defense to contain it.
LATEST FOOTBALL NEWS
Nigeria claim Africa Cup of Nations crown
Mali sink Ghana in Nations Cup play-off
CAF clear Pitroipa to play in Nations Cup final
Renard warned over Nelspruit pitch comments
Hayatou defends referees but admits mistakes
He's here, he's there, he's...
The cost of Premier League away travel
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010