Spain end long wait for football’s Holy GrailJuly 12th, 2010 - 5:11 am ICT by IANS
Johannesburg, July 12 (DPA) Viva Espania! Spain crowned their meteoric rise to football grandeur Sunday by lifting the World Cup for the first time in the country’s history.
Andres Iniesta netted the winning goal in the second period of extra-time as Spain defeated the Netherlands 1-0 at Soccer City to become the eighth world champion in World Cup history joining Brazil, Italy, Germany, Argentina, Uruguay, England and France.
There was no sign, however, of the dazzling display of close passing and team spirit that enabled “La Roja” clinch the European championship crown two years ago.
Instead Vicente del Bosque’s side prevailed in an ill-tempered affair that saw 14 players booked and Holland’s John Heitinga sent off.
The unheralded number of cards set an unwanted record for a World Cup final but that didn’t bother Spain captain Iker Casillas as he received the World Cup trophy from FIFA head Joseph Blatter and South African President Jacob Zuma.
The victory sees Spain become the first team after Germany (1972/74) to achieve the feat of adding a world crown to a European title, although France did manage the achievement in reverse order when winning the World Cup in 1998 and Euro 2000.
Things did not look good for Spain after they lost their opening group match 1-0 to Switzerland.
Del Bosque’s squad struggled in South Africa to find the rhythm they showed in Euro 2008, but impressed with coolness and self- confidence in extricating themselves from tricky situations.
The mastery they displayed in their three 1-0 knock-out stage victories over Portugal, Paraguay and Germany showed just what a classy team they are.
Even the lack of form shown by star striker Fernando Torres did not knock them out of their stride. The Liverpool forward was easily compensated for by the gala performance of David Villa.
The heart of the team in South Africa was the midfield trio of Barcelona players Xavi, match-winner Iniesta and Sergio Busquets.
It was in defence where the trophy was really won, however, as goalkeeper Casillas, supported by central-defensive Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique conceded just two goals all tournament.
Long-considered a team of also-rans, Spain’s “golden generation” have dominated world football since their Euro championship triumph.
Del Bosque, who twice won the Champions League with Real Madrid, took over the squad from Luis Aragones in the autumn of 2008, but kept his predecessor’s tactics.
This involved keeping possession, controlling the game, being patient and remaining cool in finishing off moves.
Spain kept faith with this style throughout qualifying for South Africa and won all 10 of their matches. Indeed, La Roja have lost only twice since November 15, 2006.
The team’s progress to World Cup glory has helped bridge the distance between Basques and Catalans and led many in the ethnically diverse nation to look above regional differences and cheer in unison.
Even the economic crisis which has hit Spain hard and led to a dramatic increase in the number of people losing their jobs has been pushed to the background - at least temporarily.
“Spain is simply the best team in the world at present,” gushed German football icon Franz Beckenbauer. Beautiful and creative football has at last paid dividends.
- The road to Brazil begins in Georgia: Del Bosque - Sep 10, 2012
- Spanish press hail Euro 2012 triumph - Jul 02, 2012
- Strange that World Cup winners need to qualify: Casillas - Sep 11, 2012
- Spain wins Euro 2012 final, smashing Italy 4-0 (Lead) - Jul 02, 2012
- Iniesta named player of Euro 2012 - Jul 02, 2012
- Euro 2012: Spain coach Del Bosque rejects past glories - Jul 01, 2012
- Iniesta goal gives Spain World Cup glory (Second Lead) - Jul 12, 2010
- After Europe, Spain now set to conquer the World (Group H team profile) - Jun 02, 2010
- Spain coach Del Bosque names Euro squad - May 27, 2012
- Spain's little men aiming to grow up in World Cup (Team Profile) - Dec 02, 2009
- Euro 2012 Group C Preview: Ireland may decide who survive - Jun 05, 2012
- Spain begin World Cup defence with hard fought win - Sep 12, 2012
- Torres dropped by Del Bosque for friendly - Feb 24, 2012
- Navas and Monreal back in Spain's squad for England, Costa Rica friendlies - Nov 08, 2011
- Spanish media euphoric about "historic" achievement - Jul 04, 2010
Tags: andres iniesta, championship crown, dazzling display, eighth world, fernando torres, gala performance, holy grail, jacob zuma, john heitinga, joseph blatter, meteoric rise, self confidence, soccer city, star striker, tricky situations, vicente del bosque, world champion, world crown, world cup history, world cup trophy