It has been 10 years since the World Cup triumph of Spain at the international level. Although 2 World Cups have happened since then, this World Cup is one that is often quoted to be one of the best in the edition that started in the early 50’s. Italy were the defending champions coming into the tournament. Spain’s Golden generation as it is known famously lifted the World Cup in South Africa, 2010 to succeed the Italians.
The World Cup will be remembered for some of the famous moments of football in its history. Be it Lampard’s disallowed goal or Suarez’s mischievous handball, the World cup was full of controversy. Not to forget the iconic final and Iniesta’s winning goal after the horrendous “kung-fu kick” by De Jong and Casillas’ heroics. Who will forget the famous ‘Paul- the Octopus’ the unlikely pundit who predicted the results of the game accurately.
Being hosted in South Africa and blessed by none other than Nelson Mandela himself, Spain walked into it as the European champions and on a 35 win streak before losing the group stages match to Switzerland.
Winning all the other matches, initially, Spain did not look like the title contenders, given their low scoring tally. On the other hand, Germany was a goal-scoring machine and were the favorites.
However, David Villa was in top form and scored in almost all the matches, ensuring qualifications until the semi-finals behest his goals. Spain boasted a squad that was a combined force of Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Puyol, Xavi, Iniesta, Pedro, David Villa, Busquets, and Pique were some of the core team players, all from FC Barcelona. Their rivals Madrid also had quite a few players with the likes of Xabi Alonso, Sergio Ramos, and the Keeper captain Iker Casillas himself.
Road to the finals:
Spain vs Switzerland (0-1)
Spain vs Honduras (2-0)
Spain vs Chile (2-1)
Round of 16: Won against Portugal 1-0
Quarterfinals: Won against Paraguay 1-0
Semi-Finals: Won against Germany 1-0
Finals: Won against Netherland 1-0
Passing the Portugal and Paraguay tests
Spain outdid Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal, young talent-laden Paraguay in 16’s and Quarterfinals, thanks to goals from Villa in a single goal thriller. Spain was not known for their high scoring nature, they were happy to win the matches by a margin of 1. The same approach led them again to a 1-0 lead in the quarter-finals against Paraguay. It was against the impressive David Villa on target to set up a clash against the high scoring Germans in the semi-finals.
Semi-Final clash against the Germans
Spain was tested for their will in the Semifinals against Ballack led Germany, who had a record of scoring 4 goals past the teams such as Maradona’s Argentina and Capella’s England. This was an equally matched semi-final, though Joachim Lowe’s squad was missing Thomas Muller.
The match could have gone any way till the 73rd-minute corner where Puyol headed the ball for the only goal of the match. The match has gained quite a cult following in recent years, given the duel between two titans and a host of superstars in a repeat of the final from the 2008 EURO cup.
After the match, Spain’s coach Vicente del Bosque praised the “excellent performance” of his team, while Germany’s coach Joachim Löw predicted that Spain would win the final.
The showdown against the Dutch
The Final, Howard Webb says was one of the toughest matches in his career. 13 players were booked in the high-intensity duel which even saw Nigel De jong kick Xabi Alonso in the chest but the English referee ensured that 22 men finished the whole match.
The match saw several attempts by both sides, including the near goal attempt by Arjen Robben, when he received an amazing pass by Sneijder, only to be deflected by Casillas’s leg when he misjudged and jumped the wrong side.
However, the match was finally sealed by through an amazing pass played by Fabregas onto Andres Iniesta, who lobbed the ball just a few meters above the ground to give Spain the victory with just a couple of minutes remaining on the second half of extra time, which could have resulted in a penalty shootout.
With this win, Spain enjoyed the most glorious moment of their Golden Era. Along with the Euro Cup triumph, the Worlld Cup victory was a great achievement for the Spaniards. They added to their bag, another Euro Cup triumph in 2012 and were considered the superpowers of football at the time.