Monday, July 12, 2010

'España, entera, se va de borrachera'

La marea roja, rojos mareados, toda España a arrojar!

It's all over now...for another four years. The super-talented favourites have won, a result that was as much a relief as a joy to behold. How could we ever have doubted them? Even Alan Hansen appeared deliriously happy with Spain's laboured victory. Todos al ritmo de Shakira.

It couldn't have happened to a nicer bunch of people really. For now at least it will be 'crisis what crisis?' across Spain. It's probably also no exaggeration to suggest that this will be the most unifying event in that nation's history over the past hundred years.

We watched some of the pre and post match coverage on Spanish TV. A Dutch couple who were married yesterday in A Coruña were handed an orange shirt by the priest with the player name Van Aperder printed on the back!

Later we watched a gathering outside a seaside cafe in that same city watching the final on a large plasma screen. When Iniesta's goal went in a passing waiter threw his tray and all of its contents up in the air.

The final itself will be remembered for the Shaolin Soccer approach of the Naranja Mecánica. I lost count of how many Dutchmen hadn't been booked at the end of what was one of the most cynical tactical displays in the history of the finals. A stand out moment in this nervy match was Van Bommel running up to English ref Howard Webb after he'd just dished out another yellow card and gesticulating wildly as if to say 'that's enough, OK???!'

I will also always remember how Casillas broke down in tears after the deadlock was finally broken. One of those cynical Dutchmen even whacked the ball up from the half-way line towards the goal of the apparently stricken keeper in the hope of spoiling the fiesta before it had even really got started.

It was a good thing too that we had a few hours of football nonsense to keep us busy yesterday because it was the grimmest day of the year here in La Antigua...the grimmest of any year quizás.

It perhaps hasn't been the very best Mundiales. There weren't that many great goals, there wasn't a classic match (the third place play-off was bizarrely the most exciting) and, with respect to the undoubtedly wonderful, tweeting, golden-bollocked Diego Forlán, its outstanding star was a cephalopod. And we're surely going to be stuck with those blasted vuvuzelas for a while yet.

I've certainly had my fill of Guatemalan football commentary. Those guys just don't know when to shut up. It's as if they're commentating for radio: when not describing events on screen that viewers are perfectly capable of perceiving themselves ("balón que llega...") they're engaging in embarrassingly uninformed debates on collateral matters and often enough miss the build-up to an actual goal. And, worst of all, they're not even in the stadium, they're just watching it on TV like the rest of us.

If the commentary on BBC and ITV was ultimately superior, the punditry back in Blighty was persistently annoying. I'm not sure I'd really swap Alan 'I've been to the townships' Shearer for all those 'black continent' remarks across the Guatemalan coverage. Or indeed ITV's presumption that we all wanted Ghana to beat Uruguay for Canal 3's presumption that the reverse result was conspicuously preferable.

Anyway, after the match Iker Casillas did the customary interview with his reporter girlfriend Sara Carbonero. She'd taken some of the blame for Spain's upset against Switzerland in the first group match ('distracting influence'), but each time they subsequently come face to face for a post-match chat, they'd both been unshakeably professional. But last night we witnessed what has hailed as 'el achuchón más famoso de la historia.'

During the match yesterday every time Princess Letizia spotted herself on the big screen she looked as if she wanted to jump up
and wave, or even scream "esto es la oooostia!" much to the apparent discomfort of her husband.

We're watching la Roja arriving at the Palacio de Oriente right now, all looking a bit the worse for wear. The cathedral bells are tolling in Madrid. (PS: even the little Infantas can hold the cup, so the argument that it can't be solid gold gains credibility.)

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