Claude Arpi captures the fan's passion for football in these entertaining e-mails to Ivan Crasto,Rediff.com's Sports Editor.
Read Claude's first e-mail
His 5th: Revolution is a French sport
His 6th: World Cup balls
The 7th: Why is refreeing so poor in the World Cup?
His 8th: The sinking of Old Europe
The 9th: Did you see the most ridiculous goal of the competition?
His 10th: Germany have their revenge, finally
His 11th: Brazil is Brazil and will hopefully remain Brazil
His 12th: Cristiano Ronaldo, a shadow of his old self
His 13th: No Samba anymore
His 14th: Die Mannschaft is not an association of stars
His previous e-mail: An un-divine hand and an Oranje show
A bit tired, but relieved. Paul the Octopus was right.
Yesterday, while I was skyping a friend in Germany to get an idea of the atmosphere there, I mentioned the latest prediction of Paul (Spain in final), he scoffed at me: Do you still believe this b******. Come on, we are living in the 21st century.
He pointed out a more scientific prophecy giving the Germans victory. It was simple and mathematic.
1. Brazil won the World Cup in 1994; they also won in 1970 (1970 + 1994 = 3964).
2. Argentina won its last World Cup in 1986 and they had also won in 1978 (1978 + 1986 = 3964)
3. Germany won its last World Cup in 1990 and they also won in 1974 (1974 + 1990 = 3964)
4. Brazil won the World Cup in 2002 again and also in 1962 (1962+ 2002 = 3964).
Therefore to calculate which nation was going to win the World Cup in 2010, you only have to subtract 2010 from the magic number that has thus been determined: 3964. (3964 minus 2010 = 1954)
Who won the World Cup in1954? Guess! Yes, Germany!
Simple, Dr Watson! Unfortunately for the Mannschaft and 80 million Germans, Paul's divination was correct and mathematical statistics were left red in face.
True, while watching the match, it did not seem to be the same Mannschaft playing.
We had seen Joachim Loew's team playing against England and Argentina (scoring four goals each time); where were those confident, dynamic young chaps, always moving forward, always daring in front the opposite goal?
Though the coach wore the same fetish blue polo shirt, (unwashed, it seems!), something was different.
A German friend watching with me explained that probably because of Paul's prediction, they were timorous (not to say paralyzed).
Well, it is an explanation, but there is another one. Spain was simply better. They were organized, passing fast and with precision and had decided not to let the young White shirts play.
The great tactician Vicente Del Bosque probably knew that if he could avoid an early German goal, the Roja had a good chance to get their first visa for a World Cup final, (for the Dutch, it is not a first, having already participated (unsuccessfully) in the 1974 and 1978 finals).
The first half was a festival of good passing (it is probably linked to the fact that 6 of the original line-up plays with FC Barcelona, the Barca).
The German timorousness is shown by the few faults, nasty tackles or tough pushing witnessed during most of the match.
Did you realize that the tall Hungarian referee Viktor Kassai did not distribute a single Yellow Card during the entire match?
It is a first in this competition. Sixteen faults for the entire match (9 for Germany, 7 for Spain) prove the fair-play of the players, but also the lack of aggressiveness of the Mannschaft (despite the high stake).
For 45 minutes, not only did the Roja dominate the proceedings, but had several occasions to open the score. After the pause, same tempo. But anything could have still happened at this point in time.
At the 58th minute, David Villa misses again a chance on a superb center from Inesta, always dangerous. Will the same scenario continue till the end of the full time? It was not to be! No, at the 73rd, 3 players of the Barca participate to the decisive strike.
On a corner by Xavi, Puyol goes high in the air above his teammate Gerard Pique and sends a powerful header in the corner of Neuer �s post. The German keeper can do a thing.
During the remaining 16 minutes, the Germans feebly press their luck, but it is too late and the fire is not there. Pedro could have increased the tally when he does not have the intelligence to pass to substitute Torres facing Neuer alone; instead he tries to dribble past Arne Friedrich on his own.
Would have the Germans have equalized, Pedro would have regretted his selfish action for the rest of his life.
The Roja undoubtedly merited to be in the Last Two. If they play this type of football, it will be a tough proposition for the men of Van Marwijk to lift the Trophy.
Seven countries have got the Golden Grail so far: Uruguay (twice), Italy (4 times), Germany (thrice), Brazil (5 times), England once), Argentina (twice) and France (once). On Sunday night, at the Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg, an eighth team will enter its name in annals of football.
Voila, two well-merited rest days before the final for the third place (is it so important to be third or fourth? One usually remembers the winner and the finalist and the semi-finalists) and then the Great Day.
Did you notice that one does not notice the vuvuzelas anymore?
With Olés, Olés
PS: Everyone makes fun of the French these days, but Yoann Gourcuff, the Bordeaux mid-fielder (who was unjustly expelled during the match against South-Africa you forgot him in your list of referral blunders) has been elected the cutest player of the World Cup 2010. Next in line (but far behind) Roque Santa Cruz, Pargauy; Favio Cannavaro, Italy (I don't understand ladies); Rafael Van der Waart, Holland and Carlos Bocanegra, USA. Ronaldo is only 6th.
A fair compensation for us French boys!
Image: Spain's Carles Puyol celebrates with team mates after scoring the first goal during their 2010 World Cup semi-final soccer match against Germany at Moses Mabhida stadium in Durban.