Europe makes stylish statement
World Cup 2010: Cape Town
Netherlands' semi-final victory over Uruguay ended the remaining South American interest in this World Cup and ensured that Africa's first final will be a battle between the old powers of Europe.
Having dashed the last African hope by beating Ghana so unfairly at Soccer City last Friday, Uruguay's 3-2 defeat will have left many fans inside Green Point Stadium feeling that justice was done.
The Dutch victory meant Luis Suarez's 'Hand of God' moment will be little more than a footnote when the history of this wonderful tournament of surprises comes to be written.
What historians will not be able to ignore here in South Africa, however, is Europe's renaissance on the world stage. In contrast to Germany four years ago, when Italy and France contested a final memorable only for Zinedine Zidane's moment of rage, whoever reaches Sunday's final offers an enticing footballing prospect.
There were only flashes from the Dutch against Uruguay but, although it was hardly total football, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder showed that this Netherlands team is not completely detached from the masters of the past.
Germany's passing and counter-attacking overwhelmed first leaden-footed England and then a mystified Argentina, while Spain remain the most gifted side in South Africa.
With Europe now poised to win its first World Cup outside its own continent, Uefa president and former France captain Michel Platini paid tribute to his high achieving nations, claiming all three were reaping the reward of investment in youth.
"Can all of this be down to good luck?" he asked. "I don't think so. It represents a victory for the beautiful game with the accent placed on attacking football. It is long-term reward for the three football associations who have invested in education and training."
England, take note.
A week ago, with half of the teams in the quarter-finals coming from South America, many observers - this correspondent included - began theorising on why this was shaping up to be their tournament
Was it the altitude? Was it the dreaded Jabulani ball? Or was it the competitive nature of the South American World Cup qualifying system? All those questions have melted away with the Dutch victories over first Brazil and then Uruguay, Germany's triumph over Argentina and Spain's win against Paraguay.
Many will point to Europe's financial dominance as the reason for their continued ascendancy. And some may ask whether Asia or Africa can ever break into the top four if even hosting the World Cup cannot make a difference to the quadrennial carve-up between South America and Europe.
At least this time, European teams cannot be accused of boring their way to success.