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viernes, 20 de agosto de 2010

Spanish touch of colour

  
On the occasion of the victory of Spain in the Eurocup, on August 11, 2008 I wrote the following text, entitled "The Spanish touch":

I once heard that the Spanish football team could never win anything because it does not have a definite style, a way of playing which Spanish players feel identified with since childhood, and to be used instinctively as a resource when they need to win. And other national teams do. Italy for example play to defend and take advantage of the few chances they have. Germany base their game upon physical strength, to get soon to the opposite area. England make an aggressive football, regardless of wearing down the opponent with kicks. But Spain, Spain don´t know what to play... It may be that to call something "style of play” it needs to be supported by a title, and therefore the style of Spain has not been considered as such.

But since the moment I started paying attention to this kind of things, that is back in the 1994 World Cup, I remember Spain playing always the same football: touching and touching the ball until get the rival bored, opening the game to the sides, making passes in all directions, searching for open areas all around the field, and getting to the opposite goal continuously. Unfortunately, however, the scoring effectiveness has never been a color of the Spanish flag, but who can forget the quarterfinal match against Italy in 1994, or that game against England at the Eurocup 96, or the damn goalless draw against Korea in 2002. In all these games you could not see the Spanish goalkeeper. It was a continuous attack of Spain without being able to score. Even my grandmother, whose sensor ability enabled her to assess only very simple things, wondered "why are we seeing only one goal?"

I believe all this defines a style of play, a Spanish style based on the touch, which has accompanied Spaniards in all those games that as much as they don´t like are impossible for them to forget. Because no one forgets those serious defensive errors, or those penalties shot so afraid to lose (or to win), or the inability to react in crisis moments because of believing that playing so well they would never live those moments.

However, Spain's matches at the Euro 2008 have been great, we are privileged to have seen those. But the game style has not changed, Spain don´t play better now, but they have shot better, and especially have defended better. They defended amazingly, the rival teams created so little occasions, and for the few of those, there was the best goalkeeper in the world. I would like to check how many national teams or how many clubs, throughout the history of football, have kept their goal unbeaten in quarters, semis and final of any professional competition. With this defense and goalkeeper, it would have been enough the only goal of Spain against Italy in 1994, or the Villa's penalty scored against France in 2006. The beauty of the Spanish touching game would have been imposed on those figures in the history of football as Roberto Baggio or Zidane, in the same way that it has been imposed in this Eurocup.

Let the style of touching, the Spanish style, the Spanish touch, decorate always our victories,

Mario


The same way as the World Cup victory completes the wins of Spain, I will complete the previous writing with the following:

During the early summer 2010, the streets of Spain have been decorated with Spanish flags in numerous balconies and windows. A decoration that our eyes could not miss everywhere we went, not only because of the striking the flag is, and its brightness amplified by the intense luminosity of these days, but because of the strong caution that for years has been taken when bringing up flags of Spain. Perhaps that is why many of those flags kept the folds of years in a small drawer, or of being purchased in neighborhood stores in the last minute.

But what is the reason for all this obsession with red and yellow, this Spanish touch of colour? Well, simply that the Spanish National Team played a World Cup in South Africa, and, furthermore, that they started as a favourite. In fact, Spain has always started as a favourite, perhaps because we forget that to win it is not enough to be better or having more score chances, but you have to score more goals. But this time we arrived from winning the Eurocup with a football of precision in all lines. The celebration of that victory also showed Spaniards how beautiful their flag is when they wave it together, and that is why, during this World Cup, that feeling has been from the beginning imposed on other old resentments.

Since in general I don´t like to do what everyone does, or when everyone does it, my way of joining this like for Spain has been the video you have next, co-starring my friends. Let me mention I admire their professionalism and how they don´t split their sides laughing:



As for the game of Spain during the World Cup, the Spanish touch that dazzled the world during the Eurocup has remained, thanks mainly to two football geniuses like Xavi or Iniesta. What these men do in the field is to be put on intelligence tests. Despite this, the brilliant game of Spain in the Eurocup may have been somewhat distorted in favour of other aspects of the game. The most important of these has been the strengthening of defense, with Xabi Alonso and Busquets as defensive midfielders rather than a solitary Senna. This, together with the plethoric Casillas, Piqué, Puyol, Capdevila and Sergio Ramos, has resulted in Spain becoming the first team in World Cup history to keep their goal unbeaten in the knockout stage.

In attack, or perhaps better said in scoring efficiency, Spain have lowered their level compared to that in the Eurocup. Torres was not right, and Iniesta seemed to be afraid to shoot. Even though, he had three shots and scored two historic goals. The difference with other World Cups, again, is the defense, without which Spain would have conceded a goal that would have let him out early.

And that was how Spain won this World Cup. The most important goals came very late and after very nervous moments, which made them the most celebrated goals of my life. When Iniesta scored in the final I started to scream at the top of my lungs until I was out of breath. Then I took air again and kept screaming. After several seconds, it came more clearly to my mind what that goal meant, and I screamed even louder. When I stopped screaming and stood up to hug my family, I realized I was crying. These screams and tears were repeated after the end of the game and with the image of Casillas raising the World Cup. Only once before I had cried with sporting events: with Fernando Alonso in the 2007 season.

With the World Cup victory, Spain is even more fashionable. Even the Empire State Building was lit with the colours of the Spain flag. Players like Puyol, Xavi or Iniesta suddenly equalize the record of Zidane of having won all major competitions possible. The Spanish touch fascinates the world and teaches it to play football. And Spain is, in short, happier, more Spain,

Mario

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