Oh yeah, and Spain won the World Cup.
Sunday's match between Spain and Holland was, in a strictly Liverpudlian sense, not the finest of displays.
But I'm not sure that it was anything resembling fine from any other perspective, either. The Liverpool-centric struggles were a result of a tough match for Dirk Kuyt and the lack of a start/late injury for Fernando Torres, but the match on the whole was quite a bit more choppy than anything we've seen from either side all tournament.
Mostly we just learned things we already knew, though---Spain are patient, Andres Iniesta is good, Mark van Bommel's a hack, Arjen Robben is a twat, etc. etc. This final couldn't have been worse for the proponents of the idea that soccer/football was going to catch on after this World Cup. The 1-0 scoreline will the most obvious demerit, but the flow of the match and petulance involved didn't help any.
So with the World Cup dead and gone, we launch into the real run-up to Liverpool's 2010-2011 season. The first bit of news isn't completely separate from the proceedings in South Africa, however---the aforementioned injury to Fernando Torres is still something that has us wondering. It was a disappointing sight---the man who's struggled all tournament pulling up lame in the dying minutes and needing a stretcher to exit.
There's still no word as to the concrete specifics of the injury, but at least we know that the Liverpool medical team is involved in some capacity. Dr. Peter Brukner, the new head man in Liverpool's medical team, gave this update:
""We've been in touch with the Spanish medical team and they don't think it's too serious. It's an adductor muscle injury but they've not had a chance to assess it today.
"Fernando will have a proper assessment and probably a scan tomorrow and some of the Liverpool medical staff will go to Madrid later in the week to fully assess the injury and organise his rehab. At this stage we don't think it's too serious."
It's obviously good news, but the worry here is the one that's chased him the past two seasons. Injuries have dogged Torres in both the 2008-2009 and the 2009-2010 seasons, and they've largely been long-standing struggles that had no apparent resolution. He was supposed to be working back to full fitness prior to the World Cup, and for him to be injured in the final moments is a frustrating sight. Hopefully there's no need for any sort of panic about his availability come August, although he's not going to be at Liverpool anyway, so PANIC!
Another of the chronically-injured last season lot is Alberto Aquilani, who was labeled the worst player in the history of football after arriving from Roma prior to last season. Despite his atrociousness, he managed some positive displays towards the end of the season and sustained a relatively high level of performance as his selections in the starting eleven increased.
So it's good news to read that he's "100% healed" and has been training at a high level thus far. A few days ago we speculated about how the midfield jumble will be sorted by Roy Hodgson, and while it'll be a lot clearer if there's names going in either direction, I think Aquilani will/should have a large part to play. We saw him at his best in the forward areas of central midfield---the "Gerrard" role if we want to bastardize it---and know that he's undoubtedly one of the more technically gifted players in the squad, so it's an interesting task to figure out how Hodgson makes sense of it all.
The aforementioned clarity provided by imports and exports is ideally on the horizon, and while there's a continual stream of rumors, there's no confirmation on anything. It's the usual stuff---Mascherano wants out, old squad members linked with a return (this week Djibril Cisse, last week Peter Crouch), and Real Madrid think Steven Gerrard is a geezer.
Other than who will be leading the squad into next season, we really don't know much more than we did at the summer's outset. That extends across the board---who'll be owning the club, who'll be playing at the club, and how the club will be supported. But hopefully news is coming, and hopefully it's positive. But it's not like we're unprepared if it's not.