A repeat of last year’s final. Both teams not where they want to be in the league. Chance to put domestic chors to one side and relive the final from May. Secret Interista Gav Stone famed editor of the Les Rosbifs website looks at how the Nerazzurri will fare.

It is a different Inter side who will be up against Bayern Munich this time around in the Champions League, compared to the one who beat The German side in the final last May. In between the Mourinho/Milito masterclass in Madrid and the first leg of this last 16 fixture, the nerazzurri have also been through a soul-sapping stint in the hands of Rafa Benitez, which did the club nor the coach any favours.

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It is the greatest and biggest game in the World, two teams that have never lifted the trophy met in Johannesburg in the magnificent Soccer City stadium to battle for the privilege of being the 8th country to win the most coveted prize in football. The Spanish and the Dutch fans filled the stadium and watched around the world, knowing it would end in heartbreak for one and ecstasy for the other.

 

NETHERLANDS

0

 

SPAIN

1

      Andres INIESTA (116′)  
         
1.Maarten STEKELENBERG     1.Iker CASILLAS  
2.Gregory VAN DER WIEL – Y     3.Gerard PIQUE  
3.John HEITINGA – Y/R     5.Carles PUYOL – Y  
4.Joris MATHIJSEN – Y     6.Andres INIESTA – Y  
5.Giovanni VAN BRONCKHORST – Y OUT – 105   7.David VILLA OUT – 106
6.Mark VAN BOMMEL – Y     8.XAVI – Y  
7.Dirk KUYT OUT – 71   11.Joan CAPDEVILA – Y  
8.Nigel DE JONG – Y OUT – 99   14.Xavi ALONSO OUT – 87
9.Robin VAN PERSIE – Y     15.Sergio RAMOS – Y  
10.Wesley SNEIJDER     16.Sergio BUSQUETS  
11.Arjen ROBBEN – Y     18.PEDRO OUT – 60
         
Subs     Subs  
16.Michel VORM     2.Raul ALBOIL  
22.Sander BOSCHKER     4.Carlos MARCHENA  
12.Khalid BOULAHROUZ     9.Fernando TORRES IN – 106
13.Andre OOIJER     10.Cesc FABERGAS IN – 87
14.Demy DE ZEEUW     12.Victor VALDES  
15.Edson BRAAFHEID IN – 105   13.Juan MATA  
17.Eljero ELIA IN – 71   17.Alvaro ARBELOA  
18.Stijn SCHAARS     19.Fernando LLORENTE  
19.Ryan BABEL     20.Javi MARTINEZ  
20.Ibrahim AFELLAY     21.David SILVA  
21.Klass Jan HUNTELAAR     22.Jesus NAVAS IN – 60
23.Rafael VAN DER VAART     23.Pepe REINA  

Not the greatest game I have ever watched however not the worst final, 94 and 90 were worse in my opinion, most finals are always a very tight and cagey affair and I expected this game to be no different, it started off very promising though, Spain looked to attack, the Dutch pressed early and looked to break forward when they got the ball, using the pace of Robben down the right, It was Spain that took charge the “tiki taka” passing was in full flow and they should have taken the lead after 4 minutes Sergio Ramos met a cross with a thunderous header by Stekelenberg did very well to keep it out, shortly after on 3 occasions Pedro found David Villa with lovely through passes, twice he was offside, the third time he wasn’t but Stekelenberg was quickly out to collect the ball. Spain’s passing rhythm was then disrupted by the amount of fouls and yellow cards the referee gave out, in 28 minutes 5 yellow cards were awarded, Nigel de Jong was lucky to still be on the pitch after he planted his foot straight into Xabi Alonso’s chest, a shocking challenge and nowhere near going for the ball. For all the Spanish play the Dutch could have gone in at half time in the lead Arjen Robben his trademark move onto his left foot and his shot had to be beaten away by Casillas at his near post.

Spain started very brightly again in the second half, Joan Capdevila had a great chance the ball played to the back post by he couldn’t make contact with the ball, Holland nearly made them pay, de Jong played the ball forward and it split the Spanish defence and Robben was through on goal, with the ball on his favoured left foot but Casillas made a superb save lifting his right leg and getting a crucial touch on the ball to send it wide. The game was heating up and or the right reasons, Jesus Navas made a run down the right fired the ball across Heitinga made a mess of the clearance and the ball fell to David Villa 5 yards from goal however the Everton defender amazingly got a foot in the way and blocked the Spanish hit-man’s shot. From the subsequent corner Sergio Ramos had a clear cut chance, the corner swung in Ramos was unmarked but somehow managed to skew his header over the bar, and it looked harder to miss.

Back came the Dutch, van Persie’s flick on sent Robben through on goal, he beat Puyol for pace but seemed to do enough (maybe illegally) to slow the winger down and Pique and Casillas smothered the ball to safety, Robben was livid and chased down the referee screaming his injustice, all he got was a booking. The 90 minutes finished goalless both sides could have easily scored in winner in 90, but we would need another 30 minutes to decide the winner, and substitute Cesc Fabergas should have sealed it for Spain, Andres Iniesta played a lovely ball in behind the defence and Cesc ran onto the ball but could only find Stekelenberg’s legs with his left foot attempt, the Arsenal man should have done better, he had made a big impact though the Spanish looked more in control with Fabergas on the pitch. It was his midfield partners and possible teammates Xavi and Iniesta that strengthened Spain’s cause, Xavi playing a ball over the top to Iniesta he had got in front of Heitinga, he could only tug Iniesta’s shoulder, the Barca man went down, Heitinga was already on a yellow, he had to go, and go he did shown the red card and his team on the ropes and down to 10 men.

The extra man made the difference, Spain pilled forward and with 4 minutes to go to penalties it paid dividends, Iniesta broke forward and was unmarked, Torres tried to find him it was cleared, however Fabergas won the ball played it to Iniesta and he struck the ball beautifully past Stekelenberg into the Dutch goal and send the Spanish players and fans into dreamland, fantastic scenes of celebration, also a lovely moment from Iniesta as he lifted his shirt to reveal a message to Dani Jarque the former Espanyol captain who died a year ago of a heart attack while in pre-season training, he was booked for his sentiment I’m sure he wouldn’t care though, he had won the World Cup for his team and country and nothing was going to damped the moment. The Dutch has a brief flurry of action to try and level the game but it was in vain as Spain became the Champions of the World, the best team won on the day and that’s all you can ask for.

Over the past 4 years they have been the best and most consistent team, and although they haven’t set the world alight in this tournament actually scoring the least goals of any World Cup winner, but they played great at times, defended brilliantly and in my eyes deserved winners, Holland didn’t go out to win the World Cup they went out to stop Spain winning it, and to me that’s not the attitude I like for Champions.

MY THOUGHTS

Some great performances on both sides, Andres Iniesta has to be the man of the match, him and Xavi became more in control as long as the game went on, his surging runs and technique on the ball were a joy to watch, and it was very fitting he scored the winning goal, Substitutes Fabergas and Navas did very well when they came on, adding more attacking flair to the Spanish midfield, Puyol was a warrior in central midfield and no one deserves more to be a World Champion then the Barcelona centre half.

For the Dutch I thought Gregory van der Wiel had a superb game, I lost count of the amount of great tackles he put in, or just breaking up the Spanish play, impressive for the young Ajax player, his stock will have risen over the past 4 weeks and even more so tonight. Stekelenberg had a great game keeping his team in the match in more than 3 occasions, deserved to only lose one goal.

Robben was busy but spent most of the time complaining, van Bommel and de Jong did a good job disrupting the Spanish play be it illegally or not, Kuyt and van Persie were too quiet, Sneijder had a good game, chased back ran forward tried to make things happen maybe just didn’t have the options in front of him to make a difference.

 

The First Half was not the most exciting but more of a tactical battle, the Second Half was a better sceptical and actually turned into an exciting and tight affair, the best team won in the end and are deserved Champions. The odds are 6/1 for them to become the first ever back to back World Champions and who would bet against them 4 years on in Brazil.

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Well we’re down to 4 teams, 3 Europeans, 1 South American, 2 teams that have won it before, 2 that are European Champions but never won the main prize, 1 team with a star striker suspended another with a star striker not playing at his best and his place being questioned, 4 countries with fans that will be on the end of their seat in the next 48 hours, unfortunately only two of them can make the final, no disgrace for the loser, but the World Cup Final is surely still the pinnacle that all players would love to play in, isn’t it?

URUGUAY

2

 

NETHERLANDS

3

Diego FORLAN (41′)     Giovanni VAN BRONCKHORST (18′)  
Maxi PEREIRA (90+2′)     Wesley SNEIJDER (70′)  
      Arjen ROBBEN (73′)  
         
1.Fernando MUSLERA     1.Maarten STEKELENBERG  
3.Diego GODIN     3.John HEITINGA  
5.Walter GARGANO     4.Joris MATHIJSEN  
6.Mauricio VICTORINO     5.Giovanni VAN BRONCKHORST – C  
7.Edinson CAVANI     6.Mark VAN BOMMEL – Y  
10.Diego FORLAN – C OUT – 84   7.Dirk KUYT  
11.Alvaro Pereira OUT – 78   9.Robin VAN PERSIE  
15.Diego PEREZ     10.Wesley SNEIJDER – Y  
16.Maximiliano PEREIRA – Y     11.Arjen ROBBEN OUT – 89
17.Egidio AREVALO     12.Khalid BOULAHROUZ – Y  
22.Martin CACERES – Y     14.Demy DE ZEEUW OUT – 46
         
Subs     Subs  
2.Diego LUGANO     16.Michel VORM  
4.Jorge FUCILE  SUS   22.Sander BOSCHKER  
8.Sebastian EGUREN     2.Gregory VAN DER WIEL  SUS
9.Luis SUAREZ  SUS   8.Nigel DE JONG  SUS
12.Juan CASTILLO     13.Andre OOIJER  
13.Sebastian ABREU IN – 78   15.Edson BRAAFHEID  
14.Nicolas LODEIRO  INJ   17.Eljero ELIA IN – 89
18.Ignacio GONZALEZ     18.Stijn SCHAARS  
19.Andres SCOTTI     19.Ryan BABEL  
20.Alvaro FERNANDEZ     20.Ibrahim AFELLAY  
21.Sebastian FERNANDEZ IN – 84   21.Klass Jan HUNTELAAR  
23.Martin SILVA     23.Rafael VAN DER VAART IN – 46

What a really good game, it probably only had about 15-20 minutes that it went a bit stale, when it got going it really got going. Some more superb goals, some questionable decisions and a grand stand finish. The Oranje took the lead on 18 minutes, a nice passing move led Sneijder to lay the ball of to van Bronckhorst he had a look up and tried his luck, and what a try it was an absolute missile into the top corner Muslera got a finger to it but it wasn’t enough, a great goal to kick off the game. Uruguay had possibly been the better team before the goal looking the more comfortable on the ball, the goal settled the Dutch down and they went about trying to find a second. The game looked to be staying the same towards the break, that was until Diego Forlan decided to grace us with another World Cup beauty, putting the ball onto his unfancied left foot, he let rip and the swerve caught Stekelenberg off guard and he could only get a hand onto it and watch it ripple the net.

For 15 minutes the second half was a very cagey affair both teams seeming to know what was up for grabs and the tension stalled the game a little, then in a bit of a strange moment Sneijder found some space on the edge of the box, he tried to curl an effort it came off a defender just missed van Persie’s foot and beat Muslera to the near post, the goal seemed to stun everyone, Uruguay fans couldn’t see how the ball had beat their goalie and the Dutch were shocked to be in the lead again. Then came what would be the killer blow, Kuyt free on the left got the ball onto his right and crossed a teasing ball in, Robben had found a great position and a lovely header back towards the near post had Muslera beaten all ends up and it sent the Dutch fans delirious with delight, surely they were going to their first World Cup final since 1974.

Uruguay had 17 minutes to save their tournament but it came all little too little, they won a free kick on the 90th minute it was put wide to Maxi Pereira he cut inside onto his left foot and curled a lovely shot past Stekelenberg a great goal but not enough to save the boys from Montevideo, the next three minutes saw Uruguay set siege upon the Dutch goal and in the last seconds Gargano nearly found some space to craft a shot but he was smothered and couldn’t get the shot off, the ball was then cleared and to every Dutch fans relief the referee blew his whistle and sent their team in the Final, the favourites had staved off the underdogs fight a most enjoyable game, much better than semi-finals usually produce.

MY THOUGHTS

Players of the game for me were Robben and Sneijder for the Dutch, and Forlan, Cavani and Adriano Pereira for Uruguay, Robben had an excellent game, started on the right, drifted to the left at times, and he was a constant threat his pace means you have to respect the distance you keep from him, but his skill means you don’t want to give him time on the ball, I thought Caceres and Pereira did well to contain him at times but you are never going to keep him quiet for 90 minutes, scoring an unchareteristic header, he had a couple of other half chances, but when your Arjen Robben just being on the pitch causes teams problems.

Sneijder again was the architect of the Dutch attacks, always open for a pass, great sense of where the space is on the field, another goals that makes it 5 for the tournament, maybe another own goals, but you don’t get the luck unless you have a go and he is going to get shots off and create chances, he has been one of the players of the tournament and it was evidentaly clear why by tonights performance.

Forlan spearheaded the uruguay attack and probably by his standards he had a quiet night, but his goal was superb and he is just a quality footballer, he missed Suarez, Suarez being in the middle allows Diego to drift, and Cavani and Forlan are quite similar in that way which doesn’t always work upfront, at times Cavani made some superb runs without the ball I was screaming at the TV for Pereira and Forlan to try and find him but it’s easy to see these passes when your not there on the pitch, he impressed me with his movement.

Adriano Pereira ran a tireless shift tonight given the job to help Careces on the left back spot when needed but then asked to bomb forward and protect the front two, a thankless task but he did it without complaint for the 78 minutes he was on the pitch.

Uruguay played very well and should be proud, maybe 2 quality players away from being a superb team, if they had a midfielder was great ability I would back them to go all the way, with Forlan they have a World Class forward, look forward to seeing how they progress for the Copa America, The Dutch again won the game without playing superb football but it was good enough to win the game and that’s what matters, they seem to be hotting up at the right time, I think they would prefer the grudge match with the Germans, but both Opponents will test their defence.

You can’t ask for more than 5 goals in a Semi-Final and I really hope tomorrow’s game lives up to the expectation, but usually they don’t.

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After yesterday’s great games setting up the great Quarter Final of Germany v Argentina I started today hoping that the games today would set up another great Quarter Final and Netherlands v Brazil, standing in that way were the shock nation Slovakia and the very entertaining Chile.

NETHERLANDS

2

 

SLOVAKIA

1

Arjen ROBBEN (18′)     Robert VITTEK (90+4′)  
Wesley SNEIJDER (84′)        
         
1.Maarten STEKELENBERG – Y     1.Jan MUCHA  
2.Gregory VAN DER WIEL     2.Peter PEKARIK  
3.John HEITINGA     3.Martin SKRTEL – Y  
4.Joris MATHIJSEN     5.Radoslav ZABAVNIK OUT – 88
5.Giovanni VAN BRONCKHORST     7.Vladimir WEISS  
6.Mark VAN BOMMEL     11.Robert VITTEK  
7.Dirk KUYT     15.Miroslav STOCH  
8.Nigel DE JONG     16.Jan DURICA  
9.Robin VAN PERSIE OUT – 80   17.Marek HAMSIK – C OUT – 87
10.Wesley SNEIJDER OUT – 92   18.Erik JENDRISEK OUT – 71
11.Arjen ROBBEN – Y OUT – 71   19.Juraj KUCKA – Y  
         
Subs     Subs  
17.Eljero ELIA IN – 71   10.Marek SAPARA IN – 87
20.Ibrahim AFELLAY IN – 92   14.Martin JAKUBKO IN – 88
21.Klass Jan HUNTELAAR IN – 80   20.Kamil KOPUNEK – Y IN – 71

MY THOUGHTS

Arjen Robben made his comeback and gave a whole new balance to the side, giving the width that van der Vaart just doesn’t provide, and he completely terrorised the Slovak defence breaking down the right cutting inside and firing the ball low past Mucha in the Slovakian net. Robben was superb looked very fit and sharp, Sneijder also played well, trying to always stay open and controlling the play.

Heitinga and Mathijsen were caught out of position a few times today, Vittek had a chance to equalise in the second half, but he could only fire his shot straight at Stekelenberg, he should have done better, any attempt to place it, would have brought the scores level. Questions had been asked over the Dutch defence before the tournament and this was the first time they had been tested.

I feared the worst for Slovakia before the game and they proved me wrong and played pretty well, Weiss and Stoch cause problems down the channels always looking to find Vittek with the final ball, Slovakia could have easily have brought the scores level, until that is Holland got their second, Mucha charged out, Kuyt beat him to the ball, he then squared it to Sneijder and he made it 2-0 and the game was safe.

Vittek eventually got his goal, Stekelenberg brought down Jakubko inside the box, Vittek picked up the ball put it on the spot and with the last kick of the game he made it 2-1 and got his 4th goal of the World Cup.

Slovakia will leave the World Cup knowing they have exceeded their own expectations, and you can’t ask anymore from a team than that.

BRAZIL

3

 

CHILE

0

JUAN (35′)        
LUIS FABIANO (38′)        
ROBINHO (59′)        
         
1.Julio CESAR     1.Claudio BRAVO  
2.MAICON     2.Ismael FUENTES – Y  
3.LUCIO – C     4.Mauricio ISLA OUT- 62
4.JUAN     5.Pablo CONTRERAS OUT – 46
6.Michel BASTOS     6.Carlos CARMONA  
8.Gilberto SILVA     7.Alexis SANCHEZ  
9.Luis FABIANO OUT – 76   8.Arturo VIDAL – Y  
10.KAKA – Y OUT – 81   9.Humberto SUAZO  
11.ROBINHO OUT – 85   11.Mark GONZALEZ OUT – 46
13.Dani ALVES     15.Jean BEAUSEJOUR  
18.RAMIRES – Y     18.Gonzalo JARA  
         
Subs     Subs  
16.GILBERTO IN – 85   10.Jorge VALDIVIA IN – 46
20.KLEBERSON IN – 81   20.Rodrigo MILLAR – Y IN – 62
21.NILMAR IN – 76   21.Rodrigo TELLO IN – 46

MY THOUGHTS

A commanding performance from Brazil, although Chile started the better team, they never really tested Julio Cesar, along with Lucio and Juan putting in imperious performances it never looked any more than a stroll from the Samba boys. Kaka looked more like the player we know and love, making some nice runs, setting up Fabiano from the goal, with every match he looks sharper.

Robinho is playing very well so far, linking with Fabiano and Kaka so well, his goal was set up after a powerful run by Felipe Melo replacement Ramires, a very strong powerful players, he danced through 5 Chile players layed the ball off to Robinho and he curled it past Bravo, this was the cherry on the cake, at the bottom of the cake was Communication and discline first and a great header from Juan got them on their way.

Alves did a good job filling in for Elano although not as creative, he filled in well for Maicon and fought hard in the middle of the pitch.

Chile tried to play their attractive football and for all they have twisted and turned and dazzles us, I just wonder if they have a finishing product a cutting edge, only 2 goals in this World Cup is not good enough for an all out attacking team. Again Beausejour and Sanchez showed nice glimpses, Suazo was very ineffective not the same player of the qualifying process.

They picked up fans on the way through this tournament however on the grand scheme of things it was just a step to far to think they could beat Brazil in this form, it will take a good team to put the Brazilians out, unfortunately for England the better team won.

QUARTER FINALS – NETHERLANDS v BRAZIL

What a match we have here, 5 times champions against the wannabes, my mind already casts back to the 5 goal thriller of 94 with Romario’s goal and the cradle celebration, then the penalty defeat for the Dutch in France 98, Taffarreal the hero, so many attacking players, 2 similar styles either it will cancel each other out or it will be a classic, I’m hoping for a 6-5.

Brazil just edge it.

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