Barcelona 2013 world championships: Australia V Spain
August 4, 2013 2 Comments
Gold medal final: Australia 6 : 8 Spain
The Spanish team’s dramatic rise to the pinnacle of women’s water polo in the last two years has culminated in the title of world champions that they achieved on home soil. This achievement comes on top of second placing at the Olympic games last year. Their result in London-2012 was not overly surprising. What was surprising though is their performance at the Olympic Qualification tournament when Spain knocked out then world champions, Greece, having displayed the brand of strong and skillful water polo that they have demonstrated in the decisive play-off matches in Barcelona-2013.
In the subject match both teams played similar tactics in defense aimed at neutralizing the strong centre-forwards: Spanish, Maria Garcia, and Australian, Rowena Webster, and others. However, Australia looked less vigorous implementing a similar game plan showing, perhaps, the signs of fatigue that had accumulated after the previous matches. Unlike Spain, Australia has played strong physical water polo displaying good form from the very first day of the competition. In the semi-final they beat Russia with a two goals difference dominating in the second half of that game.
Spain, on the contrary, started the two-week tournament on a lower physical level losing to the Russians in the preliminary rounds but, perhaps, correctly planning to reach pick of their form in the second week when the decisive matches had to be played. I don’t know if that was in fact the plan. But the Spaniards did look fresher and sharper converting their chances in the final.
The Spanish goalkeeper, Laura Ester, deserves a special mention not only for her skills but the inspirational emotional background that she was creating with her demeanor and body language. In that, she reminds me another Spanish goalkeeper, legendary Jesus Roland, whose skills and performance were instrumental when the Spanish men’s team won world championships and Olympic Games in the past.
The referees made sure that the count of fouls and their sequence was even for both teams. Each had 14 exclusions and 1 penalty shot. In those instances Spain took 8 shots scoring 5 goals whilst Australia scored 4 from 10 attempts. Spain realized its penalty shot, Australia did not. Spain scored 2 action goals, Australia 1.
It was Australia’s second chance in the last 6 years to lift the world championships crown. The other was on home soil in Melbourne-2007. Irrespective, making top two is a very good result and the coaching staff and athletes deserve recognition and congratulations for their excellent efforts as much as do the winners, Spain.
Final standing: 1 – Spain, 2 – Australia, 3 – Hungary, 4 – Russia, 5 – USA, 6 – Greece, 7 – Netherlands, 8 – Canada.