The 2014 World Cup in Brazil is almost upon us. To get you in the mood for this summer’s tournament, in the week leading up to kick-off, we’ll be taking a look back at the stories behind some of the most significant world records set on the beautiful game’s biggest stage.
Today: Andres Iniesta saves Spain with the latest match-winning goal in a FIFA World Cup final
One of the most famous quotes in sports reads as such:
“For when the One Great Scorer comes to mark against your name, he writes not that you won or lost, but how you played the game.”
Um, don’t tell that to 2010 World Cup champion Spain.
As part of our weeklong preview for this month’s World Cup in Brazil, we’ve already looked at a number of records from the tournament’s history, including the fastest sending off in a World Cup match yesterday.
But today we travel to the other end of the spectrum.
The last World Cup saw La Furia Roja crowned as champions, the nation’s first time lifting the trophy. It completed the exorcism of decades’ worth of underachievement that began with the Spanish conquest of Euro 2008.
To get its fingers around the prize, Spain relied on midfielder Andres Iniesta’s record-breaking heroics. His goal in the 116 th minute against the Netherlands is the latest match-winning goal in a FIFA World Cup final.
As if the theatrics of a title-winning goal in overtime weren't already enough, it marked the only score of the game. Spain walked away from the steel cage match of a final as 1-0 victors.
Iniesta’s goal reads as historic poetry, but belies the Spanish strategy in that tournament of turning every game into a rock fight.
The now-famous tiki-taka style manifested itself in a swashbuckling debut at Euro 2008 (see: 8 goals in the opening round and a 3-0 evisceration of Russia in the semifinals). But in South Africa, Spain used the possession-heavy style to put opponents through the meat grinder.
The miniscule eight total goals scored in their seven matches played are the fewest goals ever scored in a World Cup by the winning squad. The three total goalscorers (David Villa, Carlos Puyol, and Iniesta) is also the all-time low for a title winner.
And considering Spain allowed a record-low two goals all tournament (one of which came in its opening match), anyone who remembers watching the competition outside the Iberian remembers the conflicting feeling of marveling so much at a team you received no enjoyment from watching.
Iniesta’s fateful right foot put it all to bed.
With the clock ticking both literally and figuratively on its chances to not tempt penalties against the Dutch, Spain saw its diminutive midfield piston etch his nation’s name in history.
Spain certainly did not play the game in a way many of us may have enjoyed in 2010. But ask Andres Iniesta and Co. how they feel about having to settle for whether they won or lost.
World Cup Rewind: Ronaldo sets all-time goals world record
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