Not for the first time, Eamon Dunphy looked on the verge of tears in analysing Sunday’s world soccer showpiece, which was watched by a global audience of 700 million. The beautiful game can rarely have looked as wretched.
Johan Cryuff, whose eponymous turn was the talk of planet football after the 1974 finals, decried Holland’s horror show as “vulgar” and “anti-football”. Nigel de Jong’s kung-fu assault on Xabi Alonso and the abominable Marc Van Bommel’s one-man crusade against skill blackened L’Orange’s already-sullied status. Dirk Kuyt isn’t the ugliest thing about Dutch football any longer. (You’re one to talk – Ed.)
There’s no denying that as a tournament it was disappointing overall, despite some ding-dong games in the second phase and the emergence of Germany’s youthful swagger. The vuvuzelas didn’t help either, making the action as hard on the ears as the eyes.
Of the global superstars, Lionel Messi was better than the hopelessly self-absorbed Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney or Kaka. But ‘Leo’ has a way to get yet before he can be adjudged to be an equal of the man touched by The Almighty. Maradona might be more cartoon character than coach, but when one looks at the current semi-Gods I’m inclined to marvel even more at what he achieved all those years ago.