Martin Keown - Spanish triumph was a victory for the beautiful game

14 July 2010 08:09

If you had ever wondered why football is known as the beautiful game, Spain provided the most fitting of answers on Sunday evening in Johannesburg.

The best team at the World Cup deservedly lifted the trophy, becoming the first side in history to become world champions after losing their first game.

Admittedly it took a little while for the Spaniards to find their stride, but when they did, no other country was good enough to stop them adding to their European championship win of two years ago.

The Netherlands tried their best to stifle the free-flowing Spanish, but to no avail.

- Terry Pierce's WC review / Will Tidey on Spain / The Libero's WC A-Z

I don't subscribe to all the negativity which has surrounded the tactics of the Dutch. Yes they put in a few strong tackles but they are entitled to play in whatever manner they see fit.

Bert Van Marwijk knew his side weren't going to out-pass Andres Iniesta and co, so he decided to employ a game-plan to disrupt their free-flowing football.

It worked for 116 minutes but in the end Spain's quick passing and movement overcame the physicality and organisation of their orange-clad opponents.

Vicente Del Boaque's side aren't the first to employ the passing game we've all drooled over for the past month, but they are the only international side capable of it at this moment in time.

I don't think it's an overstatement to say that they are as good as, or maybe even better than the Brazil side of 1970 or the total-football Dutch of the mid-to-late 70s.

The way they play reminds me a lot of the current Barcelona team, which is probably unsurprising given the amount of Barca players in the first XI.

Like the Catalan giants, they have patience, confidence and skill in abundance, making them both a joy to watch and real example of how the game should be played.

Despite a few of their players being the wrong side of thirty, Spain are sure to still be a major force when the 2014 World Cup in Brazil rolls around.

The hosts in four years' time will of course be a threat, but my early pick for the next World Cup winners is Germany.

Their young and exciting side showed glimpses of prodigious talent in South Africa and they will only improve and grow as time goes on.

In terms of this years tournament, overall I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Even though the vuvuzelas drowned out any real atmosphere at most of the games, Africa proved it was capable of staging a successful, enjoyable and safe tournament.

It was great to see how much it meant to the South African people and I can only hope that the World Cup provides a legacy which will benefit the country in ways that go far beyond football.

Source: DSG

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