WORLD CUP FOOTBALL: Spain guarantee new champs

WORLD CUP FOOTBALL: Spain guarantee new champs – and Paul the octopus’ predictions turned out to be true yet again, believe it or not ?!!

Keir Radnedge


So, we have it: Sunday’s 2010 World Cup showdown will see a new champion — a fact confirmed when Spain edged Germany out by a far slimmer margin than they deserved in Durban’s magnificent Moses Mabhida Stadium.

Whoever wins in Soccer City on Sunday, Spain or the Netherlands, Europe will edge 10-9 ahead of South America in their 80-year duel. Also, just for the record, it will be the first time a European team has won the World Cup anywhere but in Europe.

The irony is that Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk admires Barcelona and told me months ago that he hoped his team would play like them at the World Cup finals.

Spanish defender Carles Puyol (hair aflutter) scores the winner with a header during the semi-final against Germany in Durban on Wednesday. Spain won 1-0 - German spirits crushed ?!! (AFP)

Thus, we have a double twist of historical fate. The first was that, back in 1973 and 1974, Barcelona signed Dutch heroes Johan Cruyff and Johan Neeskens because they wanted to play like Holland. The second twist is that no fewer than seven Barcelona players started the semi-final (if one includes new signing David Villa).

The others were defenders Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol and midfielders Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and Pedro — the surprise choice in place of out-of-touch Fernando Torres.

Last calendar year, 2009 that is, Barcelona achieved the unique feat of winning all six possible prizes: the Spanish league and cup and supercup, the Champions League, the European Supercup and the Fifa Club World Cup. It seemed as if there was nothing more for their players. Now, suddenly, there is: the World Cup itself, the most glittering prize of all.

The key to the strategy with which Spain outplayed a disappointingly tentative German team was also sketched out months ago by Van Marwijk.

He told me: “What is most important about what you see when you watch Barcelona — and Spain and, I hope, Holland — is in that very important moment when they lose the ball.

“Then, as a team, you see Barcelona exert pressure to get the ball back as soon as possible. It’s easy to say, not so easy to do. The whole team has to believe in it and do it and, for the most creative players, this can be very difficult. But with Barcelona you see Xavi do it, Messi do it, Iniesta do it…”

And that is exactly how they ran down Germany.

So superior was the Spanish passing game that it seemed as if they had an extra man on the pitch. Yet the number of times German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer needed to handle the ball — apart from rescuing it for goal-kicks — could be counted on the fingers of one hand.

Ultimately, Spain’s coach Vicente del Bosque was thus richly rewarded for contentiously bringing in wide-running Pedro in place of Torres.

Pedro’s inclusion meant a lone role up front for Villa but it allowed Spain to display far more fluidity and aggression than in any of their earlier games.

Just after the hour, Germany brought on youngster Toni Kroos. Within minutes Kroos should have scored, only to see Spanish captain Casillas drop alertly to the ground to beat the shot away.

That proved the crucial moment. Spain flowed rhythmically back on to the attack and were rewarded with their winning goal as Xavi’s left-wing corner was headed home unstoppably by Puyol, charging like a bull with the matador in his sights, scattering opponents and team-mates alike.

Can the Netherlands and Spain match that — who knows? One fact is certain: at the end of play in Soccer City on Sunday, a new name will be inscribed both on the World Cup and in football history.

First 15 minutes sealed it !! – what a world shock, bad luck GERMANY ?!!

Veteran Footballer - Shyam Thapa


The Spanish armada chugs on and how! After making a horrible start to the World Cup, Vicente del Bosque’s boys are in the final of the World Cup, thanks to Carles Puyol’s header in the 73rd minute.

So was I surprised to see the Germans bowing out after such a promising show in the second round and in the quarter finals? The first 15 minutes actually told me that the Germans were not up for it. They were surprisingly subdued and rightly outplayed by this brilliantly talented Spanish team.

Thomas Mueller’s absence in the attacking third also did not help the German cause. With no Mueller, Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose looked like mere passengers. They could not play their usual one-twos to create the space that created havoc in the England and Argentina defence. They were too much into their own half and the Germans were not being able to go fast on the counterattack.

And Bapan Bera brings down the world famous Thomas Mueller in Siliguri's Kanchanjunga Stadium - sorry, not available for the World Cup Semi-Finals - a "catalyst" sorely missed ?!!

Mueller’s substitute, Piotr Trchowski, and Bastian Schweinsteiger were completely missing in action. Rightly at the hour mark, Trchowski was substituted and Toni Kroos came in but that hardly made a difference.

Why would a team, which scored four goals each against England and Argentina, be playing so deep in their half? I feel let down by the German strategy. Was the fact that they lost to Spain in the Euro 2008 final working at the back of their minds? Was it the fact that there were seven players from the Barcelona team in Spain’s starting eleven? Your guess is as good as mine.

Spain played a very tactical game with intricate passing and never gave up the ball.

With seven players from Camp Nou, I sometimes thought that Catalunya were playing in Spain colours!

Xavi once again was the key to the Spanish attack and his delightful passing was a treat to watch. He looked so calm and composed picking out David Villa, Pedro or Joan Capdevilla. And with his club-mate Anreas Iniesta also in rousing form the German midfield just did not have any answer.

Such was the Spanish domination that the goal was a matter of time and it came in the 73rd minute. It was Xavi’s corner and up went Puyol and Gerard Pique. Sami Khedira was beaten and Puyol’s powerful header crashed into the net.

Barca were doing it for Spain. Never have I seen the stamp of a club so glaring on a national team. It would not have been surprising if Spain had won by three or more goals. Yeah, Wednesday was Spain’s. Will Sunday be theirs too?

Paul The Octopus Picking Spain over Germany – the occult wins over the technical and science, all should still have faith ?!!

WORLD CUP FOOTBALL: Paul the psychic octopus - and only one time did he get it wrong ?!!


Wednesday, 07th Jul 2010: If you are a football fan and have been watching the FIFA World Cup 2010, you might already know about the famous Octopus named Paul who predicted a Spain victory over Germany.

Spain defeated Germany 1-0 to enter their first World Cup final and will play Netherlands on Sunday at the Soccer City Stadium (watch highlights). However, even before the semifinals between Spain and Germany could kick off, Paul the Octopus had predicted that Spain would win this match.

Fascinating and Interesting right? Watch a video of Paul the Octopus selecting Spain as the winners between Spain and Germany in the FIFA World Cup 2010.

What do you think, should we use Paul the Octopus to predict the final winners too now? By the way, Paul the Octopus only had one wrong prediction in the past and that was for a match between Germany and Spain where Paul predicted Germany as winners and Spain won instead.



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