A few hours before the final curtain call, the end of it all, the last roll of the ball…the issue of style comes back to mind.
To me it is nothing less than a triumph for football, or soccer, that Spain and the Netherlands should be in the final.
Now much has been written in recent days, in the typical copycat style newspapers on deadline tend to employ, about how Dutchman Johann Cruyff is the invisible hand, as it were, behind the World Cup final 2010, having helped create similar styles in both countries over a period of four decades beginning in the 1970s, first as player and then as coach. (An early example in the parade of stories on this appeared in the Wall Street Journal July 8: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703636404575353251442811016.html?mod=WSJ_worldCup_Left_TopStories).
And while Cruyff’s influence is undeniable, it is also to be recalled the none other than Brazil coach Dunga, on the eve of his team’s 2-1 loss to the Oranje, compared the Netherlands to South American teams. This from an ESPN blog:
The coach said the matches against the Dutch are always special because of the teams’ offensive style. Dunga had said the Netherlands is one of the few European teams that play similar to the South American nations, always trying to attack. “They are always pretty matches,” the 46-year-old coach said. “The teams always try to play. The players have quality, they do what we all like to see, try to dribble, take chances, use their creativity.
Elsewhere, Dunga referred to the obvious technical skill that is the basis for the Dutch team’s ability to retain possession, move the ball and create chances at goal (http://www.dutch-football.com/football/holland/world_cup_2010/quarterfinal-brazil-port-elizabeth/dunga.shtml).
And now we have Holland’s coach van Marwijk saying that Spain has some of the same footballing ideas as the Dutch, but is better at applying them, playing what he calls “a more attractive” game (http://blog.taragana.com/sports/2010/07/08/van-marwijk-lauds-spains-style-focuses-on-improved-finishing-to-win-world-cup-title-119070/).
The underlying point is, in the end, the final match — and, it could be said, even the final four matches — in the 2010 World Cup is a victory for football based on technical skill, possession as a philosophy, balletic, precise passing as a means to keeping possession, and creative bursts to take advantage of opportunities created by possession. Of course, there has also been very well-organized defense on the best teams.
But what is hoped from where this blogger sits — Las Vegas, Nevada, in the USA — is that youth coaches locally and across the nation begin to wake up and smell the football being played in these matches; it is not a long-ball, run-and-gun game based almost entirely on physical conditioning. It is time for youth coaches here in the US to lay off the laps a little bit and work much more on dribbling and passing, on the technical part of what makes for a beautiful game, in this beautiful game.