June 29, 2008

No more pain for Spain

by Dan Bilicki In: Soccer

The wait is over for the supporters of Spanish football, they’ve finally won another title. The last time Spain won a major championship, it was 1964 and they played against — not Russia, but — the USSR in final.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit it, even as a proud German fan, the better team won. It wasn’t as if the Germans played badly either, it was a very tightly contested game and while it wasn’t the offensive bonanza many expected, it was still quite thrilling.

Looking back, there were some thought I had while watching the game with my head in hands: I was against it at the time because I’m a sucker for Lahm, but subbing him out for Jansen was a needed move seeing how the Spanish were having their way with him … Before this game I debated myself who was the better wingback — Lahm or Sergio Ramos? It was clear who won that matchup … I would say that if Lahm were a foot taller, he’d be the best in the world by far … If Michael Ballack was injured, it didn’t look like it. I would say he was only at about 90% though … The main reason Spain was able to defend Ze Germans attack was because they shut down the wings. Too often were their cross attempts blocked by Puyol, Senna and Ramos.

Then there were two things of note that I think tarnished an otherwise great game:

Firstly, I’m all for keeping your whistle in your pocket on questionable calls — especially in crucial, playoff situations in any sport — but if this were a group stage game or an international friendly, I would have called a foul on Torres for his jostling of Lahm before scoring the game’s lone goal. he had his hands all over him and did pull the diminutive defender.

Secondly, I’m not sure if the referee caught it, but I’m guessing he didn’t, the Spanish player who head-butted Lukas Podolski in their face-to-face confrontation should have been red carded. Head-butting an opponent is something that shouldn’t happen in any sport and there’s no place for blatant violence like that on a soccer pitch.

Now, I’m going to go hang up my Germany jersey and eagerly await World Cup 2010. Quick question though: If the event is taken away from South Africa because of the escalating violence, where does it go?

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