The Fans' World Cup Verdict



Pank Overbeek (Netherlands)



27, manager of a Dutch bar in London, originally from Alphen aan den Rijn


We are very excited – I didn't think we would get further than the quarter-finals.

We had quite a young team in the European Championship two years ago and they have grown together since then. Wesley Sneijder is showing his true colours – he has always been a confident player but I never expected him to score as many as he has in this tournament. I watched the semi-final with friends at my house and we were very noisy at the final whistle – which must have been fun for the neighbours! We have never won the tournament before, so I think we deserve it. It is the third time in 36 years that we have reached the final – hopefully, it will be third time lucky. Spain have been playing brilliantly though. I hope Holland win 1-0 and keep Spain out. I will be watching the final at the Dutch bar in Chinatown – there were 300 people outside for the semi-final! I'm DJing at the bar so it will be a busy night, although I will just be playing tunes and drinking beer.

Manuel Sanda (Spain)

46, wine merchant in Stirling, originally from Corunna

We've played fantastic football in this tournament and the reaction back home has been huge. Spain have never won the World Cup and have often been the Mickey Mouse team – we've always had great players, but not a great team. I was in Spain for some of the matches and it was unbelievable. Everywhere was shut down. All the squares had big screens and people brought their TVs out as well. Everyone was screaming and shouting. In the final I think the Dutch will do the same as Germany and be swallowed by our control of the ball. They play an open game, but we are going to destroy them – I think the score will be 3-1. I will watch the final at home in Scotland in Bannockburn, where my wife is from. My two sons, Charlie and Martin, will also be watching. We've closed the road off and I have invited everyone round for a party – I have already brought a five-litre bottle of wine!

Santiago Baraibar (Uruguay)

36, tax adviser in London, originally from Montevideo

It has been incredible to see Uruguay reach the semi-finals. Our team has been doing very well. Our situation was not good before, and I thought that our best hope was to finish second in our group and then we would have had to play Argentina. Instead we won our group and had an easier way into the semi-finals, having to play South Korea and Ghana, who were not the strongest sides. It was an incredible start against France and our players have been fantastic, especially Luis Suarez and Diego Forlan. For me they were the most important.

It is a pity Suarez was not able to play in the semi-final against Holland as we would have had more of a chance. I think he did a good thing with the handball on the line - it was the only chance he had to maintain our hopes. It was just instinct that he put his hands up and scored. It gave us the chance to go through to the last four. He has put in great performances and it was a shame he couldn't play in the semi. I was at the quarter-final against Ghana in Soccer City and there were 90,000 people all supporting Ghana so it was pretty tough! There was a lot made of Ghana being the last African team - 'make Africa proud' was on the TV and banners.

I think the support was more fervent than for South Africa. It was tough playing up against the two most important teams in Africa but we did it. We won on penalties and the semi-final was incredible, especially to actually be in the stadium. I was sitting near the penalty shoot-out and had a good view of the penalties. When we saw Gyan miss we were sure that we had a chance - we were more confident going into the penalties as psychologically we were in the better shape. It was a surprise to outlast Brazil and Argentina and to be the only representative of South America. It was very nice and incredible - some big teams like Italy, France, England, Brazil and Argentina all went out before us. For a country with just three and a half million inhabitants, a small country, it's like history being made. And now it's real.

Rene Zimmerman (Germany)

30, IT consultant in Teddington, originally from Jens

I was hoping for the quarter-finals, so for us to reach the semi-finals was tremendous. I was not too disappointed and am quite happy with the overall display. We have a lot of hope for the future with the under-21 players and they will still be around at future tournaments. I think our style of play was helped by Michael Ballack being out through injury. Players like Mesut Ozil and Thomas Muller are better playing with pace and you hope for more attacking football. The manager worked with the material he had, the counter attacking style suited us, and with Ballack we wouldn't have been able to move as quickly. We had nothing to lose.

The multicultural element of our side shows what kind of place Germany is now and the kind of country we are. I think it shows a good image, a new positive image. It's a similar thing with England, France and Holland, where they have a rather colourful team and that helps identify with the people. I am pleased about Miroslav Klose's form - He has scored a few important goals for us now and it is strange how he comes alive in the World Cups. He has struggled for Bayern, with a number of people in front of him and not really scoring but he seems to relish leading the line for Germany. He mainly plays alone up front so all credit to him for handling the pressure. His goal against England was a good example of that!

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