The pre-game hype
My pre-World Cup predictions are now in shambles, all except one, my most important pick. Spain was supposed to be playing Argentina in the semi-finals instead of Germany but at least I had the correct result. I think Spain finally showed to any and all doubters that they are a fantastic team that plays the best football. It was a very clean match last night with very few fouls and none of the drama of bad officiating and players diving that have stamped too many games in this World Cup. It still drives me crazy that Spain has been unable to score more goals but in the end su majestad, el gol (his majesty, the goal) showed that it often only takes one.
I actually watched the game at home last night, alone. I was too nervous to be around anyone else so I made up an excuse for missing the first half and told people I would catch up with them for the second. I told people that I had miscalculated a dish and that it would still be in the oven when the match began and I didn’t want to miss anything—any excuse having to do with food preparation will be accepted by anyone who knows me. I figured that Spain would score in the first half and that I could relax enough to be around other humans. Nope. It was a scoreless, nerve-racking 45 minutes although from the first touch Spain played as well as they have ever played. They were absolutely brilliant, in fact. Every player was outstanding.
And then in the second half Spain scores on a corner kick—not exactly a Spanish strength. In my three and a half years here I’m not sure that I have ever seen the national team score on a set piece and certainly never on a corner. After watching hundreds of Valencia CF matches I have seen them score one corner in a UEFA game against Brugges two years ago. Carles Puyol was the hero last night and he ran out of the goal area last night after scoring with a look on his face like he couldn’t even process what he had just accomplished.