Even though Uruguay and Germany failed to advance to the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final Match, neither nation’s team is leaving South Africa quite yet. Unlike professional sports here in the United States—and similar to Bronze Medal matches at the Summer and Winter Olympics—the World Cup features a Third Place Match between the losing sides of the Semifinal matches. While it may seem pointless to fans in a country where players will sit out the Pro Bowl—an all-star game voted on by the fans—in frustration after a playoff loss, there’s no doubt that the players for Uruguay and Germany will be looking to salvage anything from the Third Place Match now that their world championship dreams have been put on hold for at least four more years.
That said, the Netherlands and Spain will also be looking to go all-out; only in their game, the 11-pound World Cup trophy will be on the line on soccer’s grandest stage. Such a chance can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and neither side will hold anything back in their quest to be crowned world champions at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
Before I get to my predictions for the Third Place Match—yes, I actually am going to make a prediction for it—and the World Cup Final Match, here’s a quick recap of the predictions I made for the Semifinal Round and what the actual results were.
- Prediction: Netherlands 2, Uruguay 0 – Actual Result: Netherlands 3, Uruguay 2
- Prediction: Spain 3, Germany 2 – Actual Result: Spain 1, Germany 0
So here is my updated prediction scorecard:
- World Cup Knockout Round of 16 Prediction Results: 6-2
- World Cup Quarterfinals Round Prediction Results: 2-2
- World Cup Semifinals Round Prediction Results: 2-0
- Total World Cup Prediction Results: 10-4
Game on Saturday, July 10th, 2010 at 2:30PM ET
THIRD PLACE MATCH
Uruguay versus Germany
The German soccer team is upset, and it’s hard to blame them. They rocked England and Argentina with back-to-back 4 goal performances in the Round of 16 and Quarterfinals only to meet up with Spain in the Semifinals and be on the losing end of a 1-0 decision. For most of the game, Germany looked completely overmatched, and it only took a single Carles Puyol header to send the Spanish ahead for good. On the other side of the pitch stands Uruguay, who honestly has to be happy just to still be in South Africa at this point in time. The suspension of striker Luis Suarez for his game-saving handball against Ghana in the Quarterfinals left too much work for Diego Forlán to do against the Netherlands, and despite late-game heroics for the Uruguayans, the Dutch were able to move on.
Now, members of the German team have already stated that the Third Place Match means very little to them. And, as a former athlete, I understand the disappointment with not making it to a title game and then having to play in a consolation match. But I think—when the team realizes that their fans have stuck around in South Africa to watch them on Saturday night—that Germany will put on another high-scoring display to leave their countrymen happy on their last night at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Uruguay has all the heart in the world, but it would seem as though they are even more out-matched against an angry German squad than they were against the Netherlands.
Prediction: Germany 3, Uruguay 1.
Game on Sunday, July 11th, 2010 at 2:30PM ET
WORLD CUP FINAL MATCH
Netherlands versus Spain
The Netherlands have not lost since they got to South Africa to begin Group Stage play at the 2010 World Cup. The Spaniards lost their first Group Stage game 1-0 to Switzerland before rattling off five wins in a row to land them in the World Cup Final Match. Neither team has won the World Cup in the history of the event but both sides will be looking to change that bit of history for their country on Sunday night.
The Dutch remain the only undefeated team in the tournament, and though they had the benefit of a fairly easy Group E in the Group Stage, they took down a legitimate World Cup favorite—Brazil—in the Quarterfinals. Even with a somewhat easier path than other teams, the Netherlands have taken care of the matches they have had to play in, and they have done so with relative ease.
After the aforementioned opening match loss to Switzerland, many wondered whether or not Spain would be able to make a solid showing at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The Spanish squad answered those questions by beating Honduras and Chile to win Group H, and they took down both Portugal and Germany on the way to Sunday’s Final Match. Though the score lines have not been blowouts, Spain has been able to control the pace of their matches and put the ball in the back of the net before getting themselves into trouble.
Before the 2010 FIFA World Cup started, I filled out my bracket on ESPN.com and predicted a Brazil-Spain final with Spain winning the tournament. As the games unfolded and the weeks have passed, I have often thought that my prediction to choose Spain as World Cup Champions would prove to have been a foolish one. Yet here we are, three days before the Final Match, and the Spanish team will be playing in it.
This is no time to change my mind; the Netherlands have looked strong in recent World Cup play, but they have also been prone to mistakes resulting in goals against them to dirty the chance of a clean sheet. I expect the World Cup Final Match this year to be a match for the ages, and a very close contest, and I expect Spain to eke out a win for the country’s first-ever World Cup Championship.
Prediction: Spain 2, Netherlands 1.
In the interest of livening up this otherwise short prediction story, I turned to my Playstation 3 and a copy of the 2010 FIFA World Cup game produced by EA Sports. I set up computer-vs.-computer matches for both the Third Place Match and the World Cup Final as they are in real life and put the difficulty to the highest level for these simulations. Here are the results of these game simulations, with important events noted:
SIMULATION: THIRD PLACE MATCH
FINAL SCORE: Germany 2, Uruguay 1
- 3rd Minute: GER Goal Mesut Özil
- 19th Minute: GER Goal Miroslav Klose
- 68th Minute: URU Goal (PEN) Diego Forlán
- Goals: Uruguay 1 Germany 2
- Shots: Uruguay 11 Germany 9
- Shots on Target: Uruguay 6 Germany 5
- Possession: Uruguay 45% Germany 55%
- Corners: Uruguay 2 Germany 4
SIMULATION: WORLD CUP FINAL MATCH
FINAL SCORE: Spain 3, Netherlands 0
- 33rd Minute: ESP Goal Fernando Torres
- 45th Minute: NED Yellow Card Gregory Van Der Wiel
- 55th Minute: ESP Goal Fernando Torres
- 78th Minute: ESP Goal David Villa
- 85th Minute: NED Yellow Card John Heitinga
- 86th Minute: ESP PEN MISS
- Goals: Netherlands 0 Spain 3
- Shots: Netherlands 5 Spain 10
- Shots on Target: Netherlands 4 Spain 5
- Possession: Netherlands 45% Spain 55%
- Corners: Netherlands 1 Spain 1
The game simulations agreed with me in terms of who will end up victorious, but there were certainly interesting score lines in each; if not for a badly missed penalty by Spain in the simulation, it would have been a 4-0 result to give Spain their first-ever World Cup Championship!
Well, we’re down to the last two matches of the 2010 FIFA World Cup; one will be played only for pride, and the other will be played for a chance to go down in world soccer history. Be sure to tune in this weekend!