Hard to believe this is almost over and that just two more World Cup games are left. I wish this tournament came along more often than every four years. What will I do with my mornings now? Watch baseball highlight in a continuous loop on SportsCenter? [Shudders.]
It's been a mixed-bag sort of tournament. Good: Team USA, the quarter- and semifinals, David Villa, ESPN's TV coverage. Bad: Team USA, the group stage, Brazil's second half against the Dutch, European dominance, France, Italy, ESPN's radio coverage.
I think that Sunday will fall into the "good" category. Here are my reasons:
• These are two of the most accurate and attractive passing teams.
• Wesley Sneijder and David Villa are neck-and-neck for best player in the Cup. Both are at another level right now.
• There aren't many players better than Sneijder and Xavi at unlocking opposing defenses. They are like soccer slim-jims.
• Players that are easy to love: Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Dirk Kuyt, Maarten Stekelenburg.
• Players that are easy to hate: Mark Van Bommel, Arjen Robben, Fernando Torres, Carles Puyol.
• Both teams are surprisingly well-organized and physical -- particularly Gerard Pique for Spain and John Heitinga for Holland.
• For the first time since 1978, we are guaranteed to see a new team join the pantheon of World Cup winners.
• The party afterwards (in either Madrid or Amsterdam) should shatter the record for Most Awesome Looking Celebration Ever. Only Rio could do it better.
• Great uniforms. I'm hoping we see Holland in orange and Spain the royal blue.
• Both teams seemed to peak offensively in the second halves of their semifinal games.
• I own a Netherlands training shirt that I plan on wearing all weekend. It's bright orange and vividly awesome. (This is a really self-centered reason, but it's my blog.)
• This was the matchup that I predicted in The Full 90's ESPN Bracket Predictor. Though, I wasn't alone.* Five people picked that matchup. It breaks down like this: If Spain wins, "The Magic Spray" will win the imaginary trophy that I designed in my head; if the Dutch win, "M. Mansur 2" will take home honors.*I was alone however in my pre-tournament love for Greece and Switzerland. Why in the hell did I pick Greece and Switzerland to qualify for the knockout stage? Sigh.
We'll be back tomorrow morning with our favorite goals of the World Cup and predictions for all the awards and The Full 90's Best XI.