Every four years I tune in to see the beautiful game played on the national scale and every four years I’m let down by the current state of international soccer. There is some fantastic skill level but the inability for some of these national teams to coalesce into a unified force is disappointing (I’m looking at you, England!).
I think what is even more depressing is the extent to which fouls impact the game. Maybe I’m to naive to remember but it seems to me that fouls are having more of an impact than they used to. And the players (and presumably the coaches) are using that to game the system. That translates into lots of embellishments and dives which detract from the game. It’s hard to explain to my friends who don’t get soccer why they should watch when any given 10 minute stretch has a couple of fouls where a player goes down with a look on his face indicating he is near death only to be revived with a few hits of the magic cold spray.
The biggest offenders of the faking were the Netherlands and in particular Arjen Robben. The so-called “Glassman” (due to how easily he is broken) is a skilled player – he doesn’t need to and shouldn’t resort to the theatrics. And I’m quite happy that Netherlands didn’t win the final because we certainly don’t want to reward that nonsense. Spain deserved to win the final and I’m glad that they did.
The standout player of the whole Cup was Diego Forlan of Uruguay. Team Uruguay did well to get to the 3rd place game but I don’t think you could say that they would have gotten there if it weren’t for Forlan. His ability to put the ball where he wants it is a skill that too infrequent in today’s game. It’s great to watch him because you feel like there’s less “kick it and see what happens” to his game.
One more complaint about the Cup before I wait another 4 years to whine again: we need more goals. No, I’m not saying that so we get more American viewers (all that would sure help interest). But I think more goals would better ensure that the better teams go on in the tournament and cut down on the number of fluke wins. Spain had so many games that were 1-nil and even though they did win and I think they were the best, they were close being knocked out a number of times. I know that it doesn’t make my case that the best team did win but the fact that they were close to not winning is the key. If anyone has suggestions for how to get more goals scored, I’d love to hear it. The only one I have is to substantially alter or remove off-sides altogether.