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Europe makes stylish statement

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David Bond | 12:36 UK time, Wednesday, 7 July 2010

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.

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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.


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  • Comment number 1.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.


    You are absolutely spot on, there seems to be a constant snear anytime Germany are mentioned in this tournament from all sides of the media. How about we try and watch a game unbiased towards or against a team but i don't expect this anytime soon. It seems only the other continents can unify when they have a common goal, just imagine Germany being the one nation in the semi's how many countries would back them? Honestly? Very few indeed i would bet.

  • Comment number 3.

    #1 - what are you on about?! I think someone has a bit of a chip on their shoulder...

  • Comment number 4.

    #1 - Wow!! talk about having an axe to grind. I honestly didnt pick up anything like that from this blog!? Were we reading the same thing??

  • Comment number 5.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 6.

    #1 - France's use of players from other countries was mentioned LOADS during the years of Makelele, Zidance et al. I don't think this article is attempting to be Anti-German, passing and counter-attacking probably sums up their victories very well

  • Comment number 7.

    Sad that the first comment is so long and so inaccurate.

    I'd be interested to know where the BBC Sport coverage is becoming known for its ignorance. Sadly for the the-world-is-anti-German rant in that comment, the headline blog today is about how good Klose is.

    Describing the England team as "leaden-footed" and the Argentinian's as "mystified" doesn't detract from Germany's performance. I'd say Spain make most of their opponents look leaden-footed and mystified when they're on form and that's most definitely a compliment.

  • Comment number 8.

    1. Eh?

    None of what you are saying was in this blog, proving to me that people who are easily offended or have a chip on their shoulder about something, will offend themselves.

  • Comment number 9.

    It's not a great blog though to be honest - Spain and Holland have been, other than the odd flash, completely boring to watch. Germany have been the only team so far to show (even with 2/3 goal leads), a willingness to throw players forward quickly and attack at will, consistently. Others have done it in patches, but germany have done it every game - even when losing with 10 men to Serbia, they had a right go.
    Holland are content to keep 10 men behind the ball (I lost count of the number of times this happened last night) and hope Schneider or Robben can produce a moment of magic. And Spain wouldnt still be in the tournament without David Villa.
    Here's hoping for a Germany goal early tonight so that Spain have to attack (but lose), and then the same for the final.

  • Comment number 10.

    Sorry but this comment refers to an earlier post. I believe one possible way to help youth production within the Premier League would be to only allow under 23s to play in the League Cup, choosing at least 6 English born players in the starting line up, giving them the experience of being in a first team throughout a whole competition and then having the chance to play in a final.
    Big teams usually play their young players in this competition anyway but then put in their strongest top level team for the final, taking away good experience games from the young players. Without this experience from a young age, players struggle to perform at higher levels when older, extend it to FA cup as well and then the big players can get the rest they need for international tournaments.
    Another idea for youth development would be to follow a similar model to the US one that they use for American Football. Why not have a national professional televised youth league within Schools, where the players are between 15 and 18 and must go to the school they play for. One criteria for playing for the team would be that they not only have talent on the field, but also perform to a set standard within the school curriculum, ensuring they concentrate on their education as well as sport, which would undoubtedly make them better role models as well as well rounded human beings. I could see this league being successful in terms of attendances and entertainment given that there are lots of 'patriotic' people out there not interested in the 'foreign dominated' football of today. At least this way we give young English footballing talent a chance whilst not diminishing the entertainment value of the Premier League, which has unquestionably been improved by the added foreign influences.

  • Comment number 11.

    #1 - away and lie down. You are a total nonsense.

  • Comment number 12.

    I usually stay out of such things, but really...

    > "leaden-footed" England and "mystified" Argentina (suggesting coaching >deficiencies). This could not have been down to the fact that Germany >were quite simply too good? Could it?

    No-one is saying Germany weren't good, but these two teams left themselves open to Germany's approach by being too open. This is according to Joachim Loew, not any foreign commentator.

    >Robben, Sneijder and van Bommel led their teams to the CL Final, not >Mueller or SChweinsteiger! They are Germans and useless as advertising >platforms, hence they are bad players!

    Robben and Sneijder were the two most influential players in their teams and Robben scored the goals that took Bayern through two rounds of the CL against Fiorentina and ManU.

    >... it is ok mentioning that Germany has a lot of so called "foreign >players" most of whom are born in Germany and lived there their entire >lives or have at least one german parent (except Cacau)....have you >ever heard of Zidane the Algerian Makelele the Congolese or Desailly >the Ghanean when watching football?

    Often - maybe you watch different programs to the rest of us. The multicultural make-up of France's team was extensively reported on in 1998 in this country as a positive thing for their country. The origin of players is usually mentioned in commentary as a talking point, but nothing more.

    >Boateng was great for Ghana but did you ever hear anyone saying that >this was the product of German training or that Boateng finished >against the US with German efficiency?

    Again, the fact that the two Boatengs are both German was reported and commented on extensively in the UK. So what's the big deal?

    >It is saddening that in this day and age this type of bigotry is so >pervasive and partially tax payer sponsored as it is on the BBC.

    What bigotry?

    Oh, and the BBC is funded by a voluntary licence fee, not by general taxation, just so you know the next time you want to vent some spleen.

    >The message really is, don't be racist or bigoted unless its against >the Germans!

    Actually, the English press has been damning all the semi final teams with faint praise. The Dutch are viewed as being too functional, the Spaniards as too laboured, the Germans were viewed as being ordinary until they demolished England and Argentina and the Uruguayans are too defensive. However, every single pundit I have heard in the last few days on British TV and radio admits that Germany have played the best football in this World Cup. You should be happy about this!

  • Comment number 13.

    #1 - I completely agree with you. Spot on mate!

  • Comment number 14.

    12. At 2:12pm on 07 Jul 2010, goggyturk wrote:


    I'm glad you had the energy to reply to such a ...

  • Comment number 15.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 16.

    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.

    Wonderful tournament? What wonderful tournament? I'm barely watching it anymore. Germany have been the only truly exciting team to watch, and they've been more ruthless than majestic.

  • Comment number 17.

    I have never read such an amazing point of view in my life. Ghana were not hard done by, they got an opposition player sent off and had a free shot on goal which they missed. Crine met punishment all square.

    Europe's Renaissance on the World stage? What are you talking about? Do you know anything about football at all ? Since at least 1986, because I haven't bothered going back further, that means 86/90/94/98/02/06 and now 10, there has been a European team in the final of the world cup, so what is the Renaissance?

    Total football was born in 1974 and died in 1982. Stop banging on about it.

    Spain have been grinding out 1:0 wins and David Villa apart haven't shown any of the type of football you seem to be hankering after,

    As for questions melting away, they melted away because they were never real questions in the first place, Argentina came to the World cup without a proper back 4. Uruguay played two games with extra time and were exhausted yesterday and still nearly nicked a draw in the end. Brazil were undone by luck and panic.

    France England and Italy , all european teams were dire.

    As for your question about an economic power house of Europe, what could you possibly be thinking? Most of the Brazilan team, and a fair smattering of Argentinans, Uruguayans, play in Europe, along with a large percentage of African footballers, using your logic, the United Arab Emirates should be winning everything. I understand you have a job to do, but could you stick to writing what you know because this is really dreadful. I have read a lot of your views on Football. You don't seem to know what you are talking about!

  • Comment number 18.

    #17 - well said. see my post at 9 if you havent already! lol.

    I sometimes wonder if these blogs are actually deliberately this bad so as to spark up so much debate??
    I wonder how much David is paid to do so little research and work? - its not even a long blog either!!

  • Comment number 19.

    Had it been Brazil that demolished ARgentina and England we would be hearing about the sublime Brazil that outplayed everyone. Instead we are hearing about leaden-footed and mystified teams! Please raise your hand if you think this has anything to do with the fact that it is Germnay demolishing not Brazil!

    However subtle there is a bias and I just elaborated on that point to make it more apparent!

    Show me where I am wrong!

    FYI: Read Yesterday's evening standard they had a bit of a vocabulary comparison on that subject!

  • Comment number 20.

    I couldn't agree with collie21 more. These blogs are either plain wrong or equally frustrating are pointing out the obvious. We could really use a fresh point of view with some proper in depth background.

    The excitement at this world cup has been top notch. And the technical quality of football (England aside) has been surprising good, despite opinions prior to the world of a general tack of technique. I would question whether it is relevant to compare european football against south american when many of the players play in the same leagues and there is significant difference in the style of football between countries within Europe.

  • Comment number 21.

    Agree with posts 9 and 17.

    If there's a bandwagon going by, this guy will jump on it.

    I think it's wonderful how this World Cup has proved, if nothing else, that most journo's haven't got a clue.

    Pre tournament - England will win and let's not rule out the previous finalists either, oh and Spain cos they won the Euros and er Brazil cos they usually do well.

    After Group stages - All South Americans through so obviously it will be an all South American final.

    Today - a European renaissance! - priceless.

  • Comment number 22.

    Still trotting out the tired old line that somehow Ghana were "cheated"!! Unbelievable. The Ghana number 10 at least, was offside, and also the free kick should not have been awarded in the first place. If this had been dealt with properly then Suarez would have played in the semi-final and maybe the result against Holland would have been different. "Justice for Ghana" - please, get real.
    Also get your facts right - "And some may ask whether Asia or Africa can ever break into the top four" What about 2002 - Korea finished fourth.

  • Comment number 23.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 24.

    I'm getting sick of the media referring to Urugauy's Suarez in terms which suggest the bloke should be locked up, or banned for life at least. His "crime" was to take desperate last-ditch action in an attempt to keep his team's hopes alive, and in doing so sacrificed his own involvement not just in the game in question, but also in the following semi-final, the biggest match his nation has played during his lifetime (and he risked missing the final if FIFA's punishment had been harsher and Uruguay had been a little luckier against Holland). His action was therefore an entirely selfless act for the benefit of his nation. He knew he wasn't going to get away with handling on the goal-line, but he did so to prevent the otherwise definite defeat that his team faced (the opposition taking the lead in the last few seconds of the match is about as definite as you can get).

    Frankly, we could've used a few England players prepared to do the same. And there's the rub: if Terry or Cole or Gerrard or someone had kept England's hopes alive in so unselfish a manner we'd be lauding him.

  • Comment number 25.

    I am from Holland and I must respect all these objective comments from my English friends. It's good to see and hear some realism from a nation that is mentally quite fed up by their own World Cup results.

    Realism is the key to World Cup victory. Admitting that the Dutch squad can thrive on luck is IMO important too. Getting into the WC final itself has always been partially caused by luck. Otherwise Netherlands would have won the WC Final from 1974 for sure. Which wasn't the case.

    One thing that our fellow Germans have teached us though, is how important team spirit is. The team needs to treat the prospect of winning the cup as some kind of 'higher, more religious' act in their lives. They must fully believe in that. This is what's the case in 2010.

    Back in 1974, 1978 and 1998 Holland......was too afraid of speaking out the prospect of winning the cup. We just....played football and the final result was treated as nothing more but a logical consequence of our type of (total) football.

    2010 proves otherwise. Our result on the World Cup 2010 will be hailed as a combination of complete utter team spirit and rare individual class.

    For that reason, the Germans hail us, respect us and really want a repeat of the 1974 WC Final. England however, is still licking their wounds. I do like their objective way of criticising the three best football countries in the world, though I still taste bitter disappointment in the words from my English friends.

    I can understand that. So please England. Do like Germany, Holland and Spain and create the same tense for your country in 2014.

  • Comment number 26.


    You have conveniently overlooked the extensive column inches that have been lavishing praise on how good germany were, and how England could do with following their example!! I hardly think there is anything anti-German in the English press insisting germany are an example to follow. They have also many times over, stated that Germany have been the best team in the tournament, playing the best football!!

    Please get over yourself!!

  • Comment number 27.

    19. At 2:50pm on 07 Jul 2010, Critical_Thinker

    Please go away. You are a complete fool. To a native English speaker, the phrases 'Leaden-footed' and 'mystified' only compliment the Germans. The former suggest that Germany were too fleet of foot (thus hinting at greater technical ability) and 'mystified' suggests the Germans were also too tactically astute than Argentina.

    I think you may be mentally impaired regardless, but aside from this you may have lost something in the translation. Now, you've taken up the time of too many sensible, so do go away.

  • Comment number 28.

    I dont mean to make this discussion about personal issues or country pride vis a vis chip on my shoulder, but no, no chip, only three stars on my chest.

    But back to the point...I am not saying that it bothers me to such a huge degree that there is a bias against germany, I take it for what it is, petty. Nonetheless it is a quite apparent reality that many here seem to ignore, by choice or lack of intelligence.

    Why not say, maybe this will pass when WWII passes from living memory or any other explanation one chooses to come up with, many of which I would gladly entertain, but to ignore it and/or say I have a chip on my shoulder is combative.

  • Comment number 29.

    "This blog will give you an insight into the big stories and issues in sport."

    Is this:

    A) providing an insight; or

    B) is it a big story?

    At the risk of repeating a million other people who have commented on the value of these blogs, are we really paying for this "Cut and Paste" journalism? The lack of imagination and inanities that are churned out on a daily basis are beyond belief.

    I much prefer reading the comments at the end of these blogs which are, more often than not, more insightful.

    The BBC should be concentrating on a journalistic renaissance.

  • Comment number 30.

    I don't think this World Cup should be stressed as a renaissance for European teams. For the majority of the tournament European teams on the whole have struggled whilst it was South American sides punching above their weight. Only in the last few days have the 3 strongest European sides prevailed. And all 3 struggled earlier in the tournament too, Spain and Germany both lost whilst Netherlands without Robben seemed sluggish. Don't forget European teams are the biggest continent bloc in this tournament so have most chances.
    A number of the European sides did not do well at all.

    In 2006 10 European sides made it to the last 16, 6 to the QF and all 4 of the semi-finalists.
    This time it is 6 > 3 >3.
    20 compared to 12.

    Ok 2006 was a European World Cup but this tournament has been good conditions for Europeans to play in too, so basically I do not see this a special tournament for European sides.
    What has marked the last 2 World Cups especially has been the fragility of both Argentina and Brazil to fully challenge the European sides, although admittedly European sides did beat them.

  • Comment number 31.

    #24 - too true. If anyone claims that they wouldnt have done exactly the same thing in that situation, then they are lying. It was seen, pen was given, red card was given. Where is the injustice? Is it an injustice that a striker good enough to be in a World Cup Quarter Final team, couldnt stick the ball in the back of the net with an invitation from 12 yards? No.
    What annoys me far more, is the absolute complete ingnorance of the appaling play of Van Bommel these last 2 games? This is something that hasnt been punished accordingly (I certainly think he has made enough fouls, and some of them yellow card worthy fouls, to have been sent off 3 or 4 times over) as he only received a booking in injury time last night! Had he been rightly booked and then sent off against Brazil - would Holland have got through? Same can be said about last night? yet not a single sentence written by journalists who are supposedly watching these games to give informed opinions??? Mystifying.

  • Comment number 32.

    When a BBC report on their web-site has as its title "Argentina thrashed by ruthless Germany", not "scintillating" or "brilliant", but "ruthless" (as in "Stahlhelm-ruthless"? no we don´t even want to think about this) and when one of the BBC experts say before the England game "only 2 or 3 of their players would even get into our squad" it does make you wonder. Yes there is a bias there but perhaps we should ignore the idiots and just enjoy the good games alot of which have had to do with Germany this time.

    PS Germany have by the way got 3 goalkeepers who are good enough to get into our squad, but all the others are definitely overrated ;)

  • Comment number 33.

    My god... now you're mentioning the war.

    I'm only trying to read a blimmin' blog in my office, whilst juggling my workload and trying to ignore the girl to my left with the perpetual year-round hayfever... I'm only trying to enjoy a bit of sports info on the fly. I just want to read the comments on an admittedly average blog and nod in vague agreement with fellow footy-fans as the World Cup comes to a dreaded lamentable close. My god - She's sneezed AGAIN!!! I'm only trying to tune out and build anticipation for tonights encounter!! And hello!! What's this??? Here's this nutter, who is trying to invent a xenophobic scenario whereby all the world still hates the Germans, apparently based on age-old feelings of hatred based on...


    Has anyone got any blimmin' anti-histamines???

  • Comment number 34.

    #28 Numerous articles have heralded Germany as an example for England to follow, most have underlined the fact that they have played the best football in the tournament thus far and would be worthy winners so really this "bias" seems based on the use of two words in a largely poor article above which in themselves don't detract from Germany's performance one bit.

    #32 I think you're reading too much into the use of certain words. Ruthless is a word that has been applied to many sides. With regards to the "experts", when Alan Shearer is one of them you know you have to take what they say with a pinch of salt

  • Comment number 35.

    In defence of Critical_Thinker - there is without doubt some truth in what (s)he's saying. Just listen again to the Arg-Ger pre-match thoughts of Hansen, Shearer and co on MOTD. Only Hansen felt he could dissent from even thinking of saying Germany could win. Is it an unwritten rule that to be English you must bash the bosh? It's ridiculous.

    Or is it Ball Envy?

  • Comment number 36.

    @ goggyturk

    great response...but..and I hate to be that guy

    "Oh, and the BBC is funded by a voluntary licence fee, not by general taxation, just so you know the next time you want to vent some spleen."


    There's nothing "voluntary" about the TV licence.

    Those who don't pay it are routinely hunted down and fined thousands of pounds!!! If it looks like a tax and smells like a tax...

  • Comment number 37.

    Munchins - I think most people expected an Argentina win but to be fair the pundit team shouldn't exactly be held up as fountains of knowledge. And i'd hardly say that Argentina are exactly friends to England, look at all the "look at Maradona, isn't he crazy" articles prior to the tournament!

  • Comment number 38.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 39.

    Every team needs luck too in a tournament like this. The will to win is how a team get their heads together. If it's Dutch-like 'total football' for the Germans or German-like individual class and fighting skills for the Dutch: You can't win the cup without team spirit of religious proportions and a good dosis of luck.

  • Comment number 40.

    27 wrote:

    "To a native English speaker, the phrases 'Leaden-footed' and 'mystified' only compliment the Germans. The former suggest that Germany were too fleet of foot (thus hinting at greater technical ability) and 'mystified' suggests the Germans were also too tactically astute than Argentina."

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    27 wrote:

    "You are a complete fool"

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Good one! Laugh of the day IMO.

  • Comment number 41.

    Germany have been excellent, Holland have done well to reach the final, and Spain have reached the last four without ever really getting going. However, that's a tribute to these sides rather than success for European football as a whole. Given the number of European teams in the competition, it's natural that they will a fair chance of teams reaching the final.

    The performances of England, France and Italy should also be remembered before claiming European domination.

  • Comment number 42.

    Holland's first goal included a blatant foul in the build-up, while their second goal should've been scratched for offside.

  • Comment number 43.


    I think the reason most of these blogs are so vapid is the same reason most entertainment in this country is the same.

    It's the constant need for new content. Just to fill space.. All media outlets are under pressure to provide 24 everything. No matter how pointless or meaningless.

    We need quality not quantity... but then that doesn't pay any bills these days does it?

  • Comment number 44.

    @ Taconazo 33 - sir, I salute you. That was a class rant, almost Reggie Perrin-esque.

    @ Jeremiah 36 - I actually know people who have avoided it - even ones who actually own a TV... but yeah, it's a fair point.

  • Comment number 45.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 46.

    The most credit has to go to Spain, as they were European Champions and the favourites going in, so the excuse of pressure and expectation cannot be used for England, France and Italy. Spain had by far the most expectation and have somehow survived it, because of their quality.

    Massive respect to Germany and Holland too who both look like teams on the same wavelength as opposed to a bunch of individuals trying to play football.

    These 3 teams have proven that any reason you give to Englands woeful performance is merely an excuse, if these teams could do it, why couldn't England?

    Also, what has annoyed me most since England were dumped out, has been the silence from the players and camp as if it will somehow go away. Why havent the players, especially Wayne Rooney come out and said where he felt it went wrong for him. The fans who spent their life savings going to South Africa deserve at least that. Everyone appreciates honesty even if you fail, but this cowardly tactic of lets just stay quiet and hopefully it will all blow over and when we start playing for our clubs and getting paid our millions the fans will be cheering us again, will just infuriate fans even more if thats possible.

    The Argentinians were invited to their parliament and they refused because they felt they had let their country down. That speaks volumes about them and how they feel about what they represent. Our bunch of prima donas probably would've had tea with the Queen if they could. At least the Argies made the Quarter finals and were the team of the tournament before that match. We were the only team in our group that could not beat Algeria, if we had beat them we would've played Ghana and Uruguay to get to the semis, instead of Germany in the next round, that is how bad our tournament performance was.

    The lack of remorse and responsibility shown by the players since the World Cup is even worse than their pathetic performance on the pitch during the World Cup!

  • Comment number 47.

    David Bond - master of saying nothing in 500 words.

  • Comment number 48.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 49.

    This world cup has been one of the most boring and bland in it's history. Ghana didn't lose unfairly to Uruguay either. I'll be glad when it's all over, as I won't have to put up with the tevesion and medi constantly harping on about over paid prima donnas kicking a bag full of air around.

  • Comment number 50.

    What historians will not be able to ignore here in South Africa, however, is Europe's renaissance on the world stage.


    HUH????????????? When did Europe die on the world stage (death being the logical prerequisite to renaissance)? Was it when two European countries contested the 2006 final? When a European country appeared in every final from 1986 to 2002? When Europe provided the majority of semifinalists in just about every World Cup finals in living memory?

    I can't believe you wrote this, really I can't. It's nothing but journo egomania to the nth degree: journos wrote Europe off a week ago and were proven wrong, but it can't have been that the journos were ignorant and overexcited, no, they must have been right and now it must be Europe rising from the dead!

    From the death it never suffered.

    Ah, to be a journalist. You can just make up the reality you feel like having.

  • Comment number 51.

    I don't understand how this is a European renaissance.

    Italy won WC 2006, beating France in the final. The semi-finalists were Portugal and Germany. In fact, the Germany v Italy semi-final was one of the finest world cup games ever by common consent.

    Seems to me that this World Cup is a continuation of European dominance, that in the past 20 years only Brazil has challenged. The second most successful non-European side of the past 20 years? South Korea... Argentina hasn't been in a WC SF since England were also there...

    Says it all really.

  • Comment number 52.

    Having dashed the last African hope by beating Ghana so unfairly


    It's not "unfair" to miss a penalty. It's incompetent.

    With such a bizarre grasp of the nature of justice, if I'm ever in the dock, I hope that you're not on the jury!

  • Comment number 53.

    Almost makes me miss Mihir....

  • Comment number 54.

    I got plenty of stick for suggesting that the eventual winner, 2010, be referred to as World Cup Winners as opposed to “world Champions”. Calling the 2010 winners world champions (The best team in the world) is like calling the FA cup winners the best team in the EPL. Sometime the FA cup winners and the EPL champions are one and the same, and some times they are not. Based on FIFA’s points based system over a four year period Brazil are the true world champions and not Italy who won the 2006 World Cup. Similarly to call either the Netherland or Germany World Champions would be wrong. In my opinion Brazil would beat both these teams eight times out of ten. The only one of the remaining three semi finalists who may have a claim to be called the best team in the world would be Spain for their performances over the last four years. Both Germany and the Netherlands are there as a result of luck, Poor refereeing decisions (Brazil’s first goal against Holland disallowed, a dubious free kick that led to the equaliser and an off side goal against Uruguay). Germany turned over an England who did not bother turn up and had a perfectly good goal disallowed, and Argentina managed by a tactically naive Maradona who for some strange reason choose to leave three of his best players at home ( Zenetti, Cambiaso, and Reqilme). so much for Europen renaissance.

  • Comment number 55.

    Holland are the luckiest in this World Cup. I still can't see 'what' they are playing and they are in the final. Oh well! I won't be surprised if they win it because they seem to have that 'luck' in tons.

  • Comment number 56.

    People are saying it won't be a classic? Why? Surely football is the most zeitgeist of the remaining sports professions that haven't completely been taken over by corruption. Sure, Cruyff's total football might not be on display, but I think that the teams have shown enough craft and skill to make it this far and that, with respect to the modern game, there's been good goals, so let's see a good final.
    If Germany beat Spain, then it's Germany for the final. If Spain win, then I tip Holland.

  • Comment number 57.

    regarding suarez. I'm a qualified referee. there is a difference between stopping a nailed on goal and a goal scoring opportunity illegally. Unfortunately, FIFA do not give referees the tools to punish those in different ways. I would like to see the ref be able to give a penalty goal, when he is absolutely 100% sure the ball would've gone in the net (likely only for handball on or close to the goal line). if he's not sure he can still give a pen. until the incentive to cheat is taken away, players will continue to do it.

  • Comment number 58.

    "Having dashed the last African hope by beating Ghana so unfairly at Soccer City last Friday"

    Oy! There was nothing unfair about it. Suarez did everything by the rules - he broke the rule at the cost of taking the punishment, just like real life. There's no difference between sticking your hand out to stop a goal and tackling a striker headed for a certain goal. Both are against the rules, both get you sent off, both get the other team a penalty, neither gets you vilified as a cheat.

    Now, regarding the dominance of the German and Spanish Leagues... a picture tells a thousand words:

  • Comment number 59.

    The article is correct with one footnote to be added: Brazil decided to commit footballing suicide. Their play was on a par with the three remaining, but they could not respond to the only 10 minutes of madness they put out in the tournamant.

  • Comment number 60.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 61.

    what has annoyed me most since England were dumped out, has been the silence from the players and camp as if it will somehow go away. Why havent the players, especially Wayne Rooney come out and said where he felt it went wrong for him. The fans who spent their life savings going to South Africa deserve at least that.


    Spending your life savings going to an international competition to support England then finding they don't do very well is a bit like spending your life savings on a summer holiday in the Orkneys and then finding the weather's not very good.

    Ten seconds with a broadband connection could have told these mugs that gross underperformance from England's "finest" was by far the most likely outcome.

  • Comment number 62.

    #54 I do agree in one sense. I would like to see more international football - meaningful tournaments and no friendlies - and less club football. International football involves a handful of critical games every 4 years for a team to call itself a world champion.

  • Comment number 63.

    Good point raised by Mr Platini. For all the controversial stuff he says, he's absolutely spot on in respect to the success being reaped by the FAs that have invested in youth.

    The power of the premier league is proving to be of great detriment to the England side. Until the FA takes greater ownership and responsibility in the development of English youngsters we will continue to sit on the second rung of European footballing nations.

  • Comment number 64.

    Following on from the slow and drawn out death of a spiteful printed media, we information seekers find ourselves confronted with a brave new world of BBC branded electronic fish and chip packaging. Welcome to the world of David Bond, Phil McNulty and the rest of the BBC 'online' second hand information spouter's.

  • Comment number 65.

    I love the fact that many are saying how lucky Holland have been. Not losing 26 odd competitive matches in a row must have been down to luck I guess.

    And what is luck? When a perfectly legitimate goal is giving allthough a player was maybe standing in an off-site position without touching the ball or being in the line of the ball? A goalkeeper who mistimes a ball and it goes in (against Brasil/Japan)? A goalkeeper who makes an amazing safe on an attempt by the opponent (Kaka)?

    If these things are luck, then Holland were unlucky to get 2 soft penalties against them, and unlucky that our goalkeeper mistimed both goals against Uruguay, and that our central defender got injured in the warm-up against Brasil and that we had some great saves from goalkeepers against us. All unlucky, right...

    I've seriously apart from the 1st half against Brasil not had the idea that any opponent could really hurt Holland. Whenever we've been on a draw we've always stepped up a gear and created opportunities. If anything, Holland should/could have scored at least 6 more goals in the last 3 matches.

    I still think Holland can play much better as they've done so far though, hopefully they will in the final.

  • Comment number 66.

    England have recently won the European under 17 trophy. So are we doing things wrong at a junior level, is the coaching wrong ?

  • Comment number 67.

    South Korea did make the last four when they hosted it.

  • Comment number 68.

    England is a part of Europe so why such a dismal performance ? Could we point to certain player's smoking cigarettes and damaging their esophagus and lungs, would this be accepted in Germany or Holland ? Would it be a national disgrace in Germany or Holland ?

  • Comment number 69.

    I think the comparison here with the European teams of 2006 is unfair. Sure, the final was nothing special - that often happens of course - but the semi between Italy and Germany was one of the highest quality international matches of modern times. No game in 2010 has come close.

  • Comment number 70.

    If we want to encourage flair players in the Premiership then why do we accept that players will "take a yellow" to stop and injure Theo Walcott, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Aaron Lennon. What with big squads and reserve players that are just as good. If we increased the ban for yellow card accumulation then we could stop the professional foul and the mentality that goes with it. Is it a cheat mentality ? Is the Yellow card now completely worthless ?

  • Comment number 71.


    The reason the BBC might seem to lavish more praise on Brazil and Argentina is the public perception that in the past they have played more attractive football..especially compared to European teams. Which the viewing public respond to. This is called a stereotype..(you might need to look that up) not bias. And rightly or wrongly all people are subjected to them. I'm quite sure Germans have plenty of these when it comes to the English. But unlike you we can laugh at ourselves (see there's another one)

    Also consider that the BBC employs Jurgen Klinsman as a pundit (and a good one at that)... not one Brazilian or Argentinian in site.

    Also the BBC has been full of praise for the way Germany have played, as well as the resurgence of Miroslav Klose.

    So please calm down...If you stop looking for things to complain about you'll have a much happier life.

  • Comment number 72.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 73.

    #68 you would be surprised by how many profi players smoke cigs. esp in germany!! there used to be one who even went on talk shows and smoked (basler) and try catching him on a run?? i did and it was impossible..

  • Comment number 74.

    Improving the state of English football and the Premiership

    The Manager can only make a "VIDEO APPEAL" in his OWN half if the ball is DEAD.
    He can make a "Video Appeal" in the opposition half at any time he chooses even if the ball is in play.
    The manager has to press the "video appeal button" within 6 seconds of the offence cited.

    The "managers" of each team could use their "VIDEO APPEAL" at their own descretion, usually for the big decisions, a goal or penalty appeal. Two appeals would take no more than one minute maybe two.
    Rory Delap takes over 25 throw ins in some games so a few minutes for video is not much time wasted.

    In fact Linesmen would be forced through the introduction of technology, to up their game, they would become more pro-active and make more decisions, then we could get rid of their FLAG'S, give them flourescent green sleeves instead so they can run properly and keep up with the line of play, they could also encroach onto the pitch when the Ref is 50 yards behind the play OR for Penalties and free kicks.
    The Linesman will feel more empowered, more important and will contribute more, ultimately he will make better decisions, he will become an assistant Referee in the true sense of the word.

  • Comment number 75.

    #68 in the past many profi players did smoke cigs. there was even one who smoked on talk shows (basler) he also happened to be the fastest player on the national team. today things are different- the attitude toward smoking has changed and there are even no smoking areas in germany that never existed before. the precision that goes into the german team through testing, et cetera, i sdon't think would allow for that type of behavior anymore..

  • Comment number 76.

    when you talk about thriving against weak opposition the name cristiano ronaldo springs to mind

  • Comment number 77.

    Ghana were blatantly robbed, sponsors will observe the "farce and injustice" that exists and cut their cloth accordingly.
    An EIGHT yard penalty to fit the crime !

    The Referee can choose the severity of the punishment, 12 or 8 yard penalty. It is he that we must trust to discern the different punishment.
    It would stop blatant cheating on the line and in the six yard box.
    Before it happens again and again.

  • Comment number 78.

    Just wanted to say I am an Englishman now supporting Germany. They were fantastic against Argentina. I think this German team has done a lot to change opinion of the German stereotype, they have played with freedom and have been rewarded for their approach.

    I only wish England could have done the same, I am bitterly disappointed with how we played. I don't think there is a magic bullet answer to make us play better, it is I suspect a combination of changes. I'm certainly in favour of somehow reducing the amount of football played by our top players, especially in a WC year.

    One thing I am interested to know is how the German press treats the national team and footballers in general?

    I am fed up with the hyperbolic nature of our press, the amount of column inches and airtime that demands to be filled and must be made to sound important. The amount of rubbish that gets aired/printed, badly researched or simply blinkered view points.

    I love football and I love the fact that the German team seem to so enjoy playing. Germany is the new Brazil.

    One final point. I'm not a fan of Sepp Blatter, well done for getting the WC to SA but video technology please it's just not funny any more. There are so many systems that could work, even both managers having a challenge system like they do in tennis to challenge refereeing decisions. I think it could actually save time in a match and it would certainly remove the sense of injustice felt by many teams in this WC when decisions go against them.

    From this WC so far I take two memories - The embarrassing need for video technology (or similar) to help referees, and the wonderful Germans.

  • Comment number 79.

    69 sheff_blue - yes, I agree, your point is similar to my comment above (51)

    European football has been overwhelming dominant at the international level since Maradona's decline. Brazil alone has the ability to stop total European domination, as the last four of the past 5 world cups shows. Uruguay got there playing South Korea & Ghana, first European side they met in a knock-out they lost to. South Korea is the one exception in 2002... and does anyone recall more biased refs than those they had v Spain, Italy & Portugal?!!

  • Comment number 80.

    south american teams flourished early on with their more care free attitude against nervous european teams

    but as tournament got to latter stages more clinical european teams have flourished

  • Comment number 81.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 82.

    Yes we have three teams in the semifinals and a european final guaranteed but can we forget that only 6 of 13 european teams qualified from the groups, many of the european teams finished bottom of their groups. Overall this is the worst european world cup in 3 or 4 tournaments at least. Germany beat Argentina because Maradonna persisted with Tevez which destroyed the balance of the team. Holland beat Brazil because Brazil panicked which is probably down to teh inexperiecne of the manager. Greece were terrible, Italy were terrible, France were terrible, Serbia were poor, switzerland were poor, sloveria weren't great but first world cup so not much was expected. I think Platini is delusional.

  • Comment number 83.

    The fact that three European sides have made the semis doesn't point to any renaisance. In any case Europe was hardly in need of one.

    Like someone mentioned above there has been a European nation in each of the last seven finals. On top of that I was far more entertained by the Germany Italy semi in 2006 than I have been by Holland scraping through without impressing anyone, Germany beating two sides with the organisation of an under-12 side and Spain choking their opponents to death.

    I was promised 'insight'!

  • Comment number 84.

    I'm not 100% sure but I haven't been bowled over by the performances of this Dutch team this year. Yes they possess some wonderful players with great ability but somehow have left me feeling a bit unsatisfied every time I've watched them. Maybe it is the burden of history but I cannot deny that their style of play has reaped rewards. The other semi-final is truly mouth-watering and proves conclusively that the power has shifted in Europe. Where it was once Italy and France, it is now Spain and Germany. Europe, for better or worse ,has come out the winner...

  • Comment number 85.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 86.

    What historians will not be able to ignore here in South Africa, however, is Europe's renaissance on the world stage

    ...historians :) :)

    I am sorry I cannot stop laughing.

    Get a grip Mr Bond. This is football and you are a reporter .. and thats ALL you are.

  • Comment number 87.

    Pointless blotting out number one's comment then leaving in numerous replies referring to it.

  • Comment number 88.

    It was 358 years ago that the city’s founder, Jan van Riebeeck, sailed into Table Bay from Holland, set foot on shore and is believed to have said, “This would be a pretty good place to hold a World Cup semifinal one day.”
    On Tuesday, Bert van Marwijk, wholeheartedly agreed.
    The coach of the Netherlands was in fine spirits following the Dutch team’s 3-2 victory over Uruguay that earned it a place in Sunday’s final against the winner of Wednesday’s semifinal between Germany and Spain.
    He was also admittedly relieved. His team had built a 3-1 lead and was coasting along nicely when Uruguay scored a late goal that made things a little tense.
    “You just keep your fingers crossed and hope everything goes well,” van Marwijk said.
    The Dutch did hang on and are in their first World Cup final since1978, when they lost to Argentina 3-1 in Buenos Aires.
    They also reached the final in1974, only to lose 2-1 to Germany in Munich. That was Johan Cruyff’s “clockwork orange” team, and while he was not drawing comparisons between 1974 and 2010, van Marwijk did make note of the fact.
    “It was a unique generation,” he said. “In my opinion, Johan Cruyff is the best football player that ever existed.”
    And if the Dutch have Germany?
    “I don’t think in terms of revenge,” the coach said.
    The team that van Marwijk has assembled is not like the free-spirited Dutch sides of the 1970s, but it is capable of attractive soccer and is winning. Tuesday, against game but outclassed Uruguay, it ran its unbeaten stretch to 25 games.

    Source : 7 Jul 2010Baltimore SunBy Grahame L. Jones — Kevin Baxter TRIBUNE NEWSPAPERS
    Link: [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 89.

    "Having dashed the last African hope by beating Ghana so unfairly at Soccer City last Friday"

    Absolute nonsense. The player handled the ball and gave away a penalty. Ghana then proceeded to bottle it. Royally.

    Please read the rules of the game.

  • Comment number 90.

    "Get a grip Mr Bond. This is football and you are a reporter .. and thats ALL you are."

    I cannot help but think you are giving Mr Bond more credit than he deserves.

  • Comment number 91.

    Video appeals wouldn't work. Can you imagine Man U concede from a corner, Fergie appeals then spends two minutes watching re-runs looking for any possible reason the goal should be disallowed and then erupting when the goal is given because it was six of one and half a dozen of the other.

    A camera on the goal line to see if balls have crossed the line and that's it. That's why Blatter is against it, because he recognises that if they do it how long before managers are calling for replays for offside, penalty decisions etc.

    As for Saurez he got exactly what he deserved - a red card. Was he guilty of cheating - yes, it is against the rules, was he punished - yes.

    Wasn't the Ghanaian defender who committed the foul that wasn't given as a penalty cheating? Yes - except the ref missed it/bottled it and he got away with it.

    The Ghanaian defender is out of the world cup, so is Saurez. End of.

  • Comment number 92.

    Are we discussing European domination (renaissance) as the case maybe or are we still harping on about the Injustice to Ghana as a result of Suarez’s “hand of God “? This British media’s patronizing attitude to Ghana is embarrassing. Ghana’s footballers are not innocents that need our sympathy, most of them are hardened professionals that play in some of the best leagues in the world. They are as capable of gamesmanship as anybody else. The free kick that resulted in the “hand of God” incident was a result of a dubious refereeing decision. The Ghanaian striker Appia, was then clearly offside when he struck the ball. And what about the injustice Uruguay suffered when they went down to what was an offside goal against Holland. While on the subject of African footballers why was there no outcry when Ivory Coast’s Kaitta indulged in an act of simulation to get kaka sent off. Is it possible the fact that Holland is in the finals has nothing to do with European renaissance but the feeling that they are almost playing at home (all that Afrikaner support)? Shouldn’t we be asking why a lot of white people with broad South African accents are supporting Holland and not Bafana Bafana. Shouldn’t the Media be asking why there has been a lack of white faces in the crowd when Bafana Bafana were playing .Could it be the that a European team is poised to win a world cup for the first time outside its continent more to do with factors that playing conditions in South Africa this time of the year are similar to playing in Europe and that Brazil suffered ten minutes of collective madness than European football being in the ascendancy. This world cup has raised more questions than answers.

  • Comment number 93.

    It now looks almost certain that Spain will win today's semi-final game. Even Germany's very own psychic octopus, Paul, is predicting the demise of the Krauts this afternoon ...

    Here are the last two World Cup predictions from Paul (who, BTW, was born in one of Britain's very own green and pleasant aquariums, so this foxy octopussy is not really a Hun after all; it now appears Paul muscled his way into his current watery oracle gig) ...

    So far, every one of the clairvoyant cephalopod Paul's predictions for this World Cup have proven correct, including even Germany's unexpected defeat by Serbia. You simply cannot argue with evidence like that! I mean to say, what are the odds that Paul's predictions are merely coincidence? After five back-to-back successes they must now be quite astronomical (or, in Paul's case, if you happen to be very fond of seafood, quite gastronomical)!

    As a control experiment in psychic pet predictions, I have just engaged my own psychic hamster, Eric the Oracle (who correctly forecasted every medal in the 2008 summer Olympics held in China), to also predict the result of today's game between Germany and Spain. Coming from Siberia, Eric's main interests lie more in the realms of athletics than soccer, nevertheless Eric was more than happy to take a break from the tedious grind of running the old treadmill and give the World Cup wheel of fortune a whirl instead.

    Unfortunately, Oracle Eric's prediction for this afternoon's match is that it will be postponed. When presented with a choice between the German and Spanish sunflower seeds Eric pushed both of them into his pouch for later. :(

    Each and every pet oracle to his own means and methods, I guess. Whereas Paul is obviously a damn psychic squid, Eric is more of a damp psychic squib. :)

  • Comment number 94.

    David, assuming you even read your replies...

    Firstly, in regards to this:

    "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."

    An Asian side has already done this. Forgotten South Korea in 2002 already?

    As for the blog itself, I'm sorry to be so blunt, but it was pretty poor in my opinion. You never said anything very interesting, it was insanely short and totally lacking in insight. Personally I always found Robbo's blogs very hit and miss, but if this blog is effectively what his was ditched for, someone at the BBC needs their head checked...

  • Comment number 95.

    I have to say that David's blogs are absolutely terrible.

    I've read all of them and they're all pretty dire - no particular points made, badly researched, no true insight - basic regurgitation of what everyone is saying anyway.

    And to cap it off, I think I caught him on television, and he does seem to possess all the charisma of Alan Shearer - negligible, to say the least.

    How on earth these 'experts' continue to be paid by ourselves I do not know.

    I also think it's funny that the English guys get outshone by the foreign guest pundits almost every time.

    Holland have been Italian'esque, Germany have been explosive, Spain's performances have been moribund - and yet, all the pundits are still treating them as gods - laughable.

  • Comment number 96.

    In all honesty Ghana was cheated. The chance of a goal(penalty) as recompense for a certain goal that was illeagally blocked is not justice.
    But for Suarez, an African team would have broken into the final 4. It would have underwritten the overall development of the game, which was further demonstrated by the tightness of all the Games.

    European commentators might consider the world cup "boring" due to the fact that garunteed wins are now a thing of the past (see USA and Algeria). And as for European renaisance, bar 2 nations(GERMANY and ITALY) there has NEVER been any European domination of international football. They are rivaled by multiple winners Brazil, Argentina, Uraguay.

  • Comment number 97.

    Has there been any dramatic change in the fortunes of European football?
    No, just the experts got it wrong as they have all the way through this world cup.
    Pre-tournament, England stood their best chance since '66, the Africans would mount a serious challenge, Germany were the weakest in years, and Spain would dazzle us with their attacking football.
    A couple of weeks in and it's the South Americans are going to dominate, on the grounds that they'd all progressed to the 2nd round even though you'd normally expect the bulk of them to go through to a rounf of 16. Of the big guns that went out, England were sunk be fellow Europeans Germany and the greatest damage to Italy was done by Slovakia.

    I could get comparable analyis from Fat Dave down at the Prince of Wales.

  • Comment number 98.

    Wth pathetic commentary like that of Mr. Bond, one should not be surprised that "Europe" is continuing to have issues on the soccer pitch. Mr. Bond somehow seems to think that the British Isles, France and Italy are not part of Europe, as England, France and Italy all appeare to suffer from the same soccer governance malaise that saw their early exit, all the while the Netherlands and Germany have addressed that governance malaise and are doing well. It is truly sad that such a gifted journalist should be myopic, but then it is the very myopia that has undermined England, France and Italy, not to mention a FIFA who cannot seems to train or discipline its officials and now has four teams in the semis all of whom are there due to highly doubtful refereeing calls; this is not a stylish statement, but rather Russian roulette on catching the right official looking in the right direction at the right time on issues like offsides, handballs, swandives and goals. To suggest that "Europe" is making a stylish statement in this mess suggests that Mr. Bond is either well paid by FIFA or UEFA, or due some new glasses or due a new career.

  • Comment number 99.

    Wow, doesn't somebody feel stupid now? The people commenting about the 'lack of praise' given to the Germans, even though every single columnist/analyst in England in the past week or so has moaned about the faults in our system and 'if only we had a set-up like the germans'. Quick point: you haven't, and now won't, win the world cup this year, despite the arrogance in your comments which suggested victory had already been assured. Tough luck, it wasn't, and you were beaten by a much better team on the night. Fair play for your performances beforehand, but your arrogant belief that Germany would win has made you look rather foolish.

  • Comment number 100.

    I have seen enough and as a German fan I believe Jogi Lowe has to go. You can't play with fear in the biggest match of your life. It has happened thrice now and tonight performance wasn't the first one. I know the Dutch will show how to dismantle this Spanish team which has absolutely no teeth if you take fight to them.

    Horrendous match, I don't know what they came for on the pitch. No tackle, no pressure and absolutely no courage to risk.


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