The Spanish press hailed La Furia Roja’s World Cup victory as a uniting force for the country – and criticised the Netherlands.
But the papers in the Netherlands put the blame for the Oranje’s defeat not on the negative tactics of Bert van Marwijk’s men, but at the door of referee Howard Webb.
Match-winner Andres Iniesta was singled out by El Mundo for praise, the paper saying, “it was poetic justice because football won and football, that marvelous universal folklore, is Iniesta”.
The Netherlands were described as “quarrelsome” and “coarse” in various papers, but sports daily La Marca was the most condemnatory, branding the Dutch “violent” and accusing them of intimidatory tactics.
ABC sought a deeper meaning from the win, observing that “the Spanish team is a metaphor for what Spain can aspire to be, as long as we are prepared to apply the same criteria that have been the basis for the successes of the national team.
“It would be good if the collective enthusiasm for the team became a stimulus for Spanish society in the face of the current problems and even that it became the motive to demand that our country should resemble and work like this group of young men.”
Even the Catalan papers revelled in the victory, perhaps won over by the fact the victorious side featured seven Barcelona players.
Mundo Deportivo said Spain should be praised for “keeping to their passing game with patience and serenity”, while manager Vincente Del Bosque was the toast of journalists for the calm way in which he guided his team throughout the tournament.
Over in the Netherlands, Webb was vilified, more than two thirds of fans in an on-line poll for one newspaper saying he was to blame for the 1-0 loss.
AD Sportwereld insisted that “the Dutch national team perished in the World Cup final – thanks largely to a chump of a referee”.
De Telegraaf also said that Webb had a poor match, but at least admitted that “the game ended with the right team as world champions”.
In neutral England, readers of the morning papers were left in little doubt that Spain were the moral, as well as footballing, winners.
The Mirror described the Netherlands’ approach as “less Total Football than total thuggery”, while tabloid rival The Sun labelled the men in orange a “disgrace”.
Headlines such as “Dirty Dutch” and “Clogs of War” filled the back pages, and even the broadsheets were scathing.
“Never mind the quality, feel the justice,” said the Daily Telegraph.
“A World Cup final so far removed from the Beautiful Game, so far out of keeping with such a largely upbeat tournament, was deservedly settled Spain’s way by Andrés Iniesta four minutes from the end of extra-time.”