The FIFA World Cup(No idea why people would like to abbreviate it as simply FIFA....) 2010 has just concluded. And unless you're Bigfoot or some madman scientist plotting a doomsday plan for decades underground, you've definitely heard of the biggest sporting event ever in the world(with respect to the Olympics).
The 2010 edition was held in South Africa. The first few group stage matches were alright for most of us, taking the event one step at a time, starting with the awesomely-timed 7:30pm matches. Then came the knockout stages, in which the earliest matches were screened 10pm +8 hours GMT. By the semifinals, all matches are played at 2:30am, which is really a pain in the ass for the normal Malaysian society. But we still find a way to emulate the 'Cockroach Spirit(小強精神)' of never saying die by staying up late to watch our favourite teams in action.
And Sotongs suddenly became very high in demand.
So here's just a quick list of the highlights of the recently-concluded World Cup, from my eyes. Just my 2 cents anyway.
Best Team: Spain
The deserving World Champions achieved loads of records on their way to being crowned World Champions, including being the first European team to win the Jules Rimet outside of Europe, the first team to taste defeat at first hurdle but recover to capture the coup de grace, the champions to score the lowest number of goals etc.
Tantalising to watch when on form, the Spanish Tiki-Takas(short passing game) can be frustratingto watch at times(especially during corner kicks), but when polished to perfection, is totally awe-inspiring, cutting defences with a few moves. Xavi is instrumental as always, providing the most successful passing rate in this tournament, while his Barca partner Andres Iniesta wowed the crowd with some inexplicable moves, eventually scoring the most important goal in Spanish history. Credits must go to David Villa for finishing as the top scorer in the team with the goals that mattered most, during the group stages, the last-16 and quarters, which includes a 45-yard curler into an empty net against Chile. Needless to say are the contributions of captain Iker Casillas, whose saves against Paraguay and Netherlands handed the Spanish a huge boost in morale to go on and win the game.
With youngsters such as Sergi Busquets(my least-favourite player from the Rojas, for all that play-acting is just sick)Fernando Llorente and Francesc Fabregas(Arsenal captain not even in the starting line-up) coming through the ranks, there will be few who would dare say this would be the end of the Spanish Golden Generation.
A big round of applause to the perennial underachievers, for they have finally broke their quarter-final duck, and in such astounding fashion.
Best player: Thomas Muller
No offence to Uruguay stalwart Diego Forlan, who had an awesome tournament as well.
But consider this.
Playing in your first ever World Cup for mighty Germany, aged 20. Yes it does seem like something to be proud of, even by warming the bench is something like a dream already. But ending the tournament as one of the joint top-scorers and most influential player in the team, is another thing altogether. A thoroughly deserved winner of Young Player of the Tournament award. There were voices saying that Spain rolled the Germans over because of his absence, does seem quite far-fetched. However, who knows what happens when youthful audacity is augmented into the offensive Deustchland game plan?
Best Match: Uruguay 1 Ghana 1
The only match to make me scream(aside form the Final). Going in front with an early goal, Ghana looked like the saviours of Africa for the inaugural tournament in the Black Continent. However, the South Americans roared back with an awesome Diego Forlan free kick that rasped through the Ghanaian defence and into the back of the net.
The game went into extra time, in which one of the most controversial moments surfaced in the history of football.
A handball from Luis Suarez from the last Ghanaian attack to thwart the inevitable goal meant he got his marching orders before the craziest scene befell us viewers.
Asamoah Gyan, with the brunt of an entire continent on his back, hit the Jabulani towards the crossbar. The team was in despair. Penalties.
Credits to Gyan who coolly slotted the first penalty in the net. But things weren't so nice with the following penalties, in which Ghana fluffed two for the Uruguayans to have the advantage, in which their winning penalty was nothing of a fluke.
Cruel, but Uruguayans' underhanded approach won them the game and sent them into the semis.
Most improved team from previous World Cup: Spain
Few would dare stand in the way of Spain after their Euro 2008 triumph. The memories of 2006 in which they bowed out to a certain side in Blue was totally erased...
Best miss(for the lulz): Yakubu Aiyegbeni (Nigeria vs South Korea. 2-2)
Best Goal: Giovanni van Bronckhorst (Netherlands vs Uruguay. 3-2)
Worst Howler: Robert Green.
No, you don't need me to post this one for you, it's everywhere, becoming an internet meme also. I didn't support England, but this was such a disgrace to all the Three Lions supporters all over the world...
Most underachieving team: France
Italy comes a close second, but at least they did display flashes of brilliance at times. The absence of Nasri and Benzema among others left many of us scratching our heads in confusion. The French were totally underwhelming, beginning with a match in which they were totally uninspiring, ending with a game with a disbanded team. The training fallout didn't sooth worrying French hearts at all, and Domenech's ill-fated reign finally dropped its rotten curtain. Hope they'll fare better under Laurent Blanc.
Most overachieving team: New Zealand.
First time in a World Cup, and went unbeaten. Heck, even Spain could not do that. Kudos to the fighting Kiwis.
Most Scandalous Affair: Frank Lampard's disallowed goal.
Later, came Tevez's offside goal.
But this was the more controversial one. Technology beckons.
Most underachieving player: Wayne Rooney.
For all the hype of Lionel Messi and him grabbing the headlines prior to the start of South Africa 2010, he was an utter disappointment, finishing with no goals. He must recover or else he might even lose his starting place in Man United to the promising Javier Hernandez(at least he scored, right?).