Sportsthoughts (108) – World Cup reflections, day 7

Oh, Espana! What has happened to you?

World Cup winners 2010, European Championship winners 2008 and 2012. Out of this World Cup after two defeats: 1-5 v Holland, 0-2 v Chile tonight.

How can this be? They’ve looked tired, jaded, slow. Their tiki taka style – short sharp passing, high intensity defending up the field, following the example of Barcelona – set the benchmark for football in the last decade. But gradually the other top teams have worked out how to face the pressure and break out fast when they get possession. And the leading players – Xavi, chief philosopher, Iniesta the artist, Busquets, the enforcer – have faded, as age and injury takes its toll. Xavi was actually dropped tonight. Xavi! The symbol.

And a decision which looked likely to add goalscoring talent may actually have backfired. Diego Costa, a Brazilian, who was up there with Messi and Ronaldo in La Liga, knocking them in for Atletico Madrid (champions this season) chose to play for Spain, rather than his home nation. It was surely the icing on the cake…

But no, not in this World Cup. He has looked out of place, bewildered. Not the target man. Not on the radar. Introduced to a faltering team, uncertain of how to play with an old fashioned centre forward in its midst.

The empire has fallen after a glorious dominion. Will it rise again quickly, or spend some time in convalescence, with a new generation of footballers finding their way at international level? The latter is the norm for most countries, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Spain strong again in the European Championships.

But for now, goodbye Spain – and credit to Chile for an excellent performance. They were sharp, strong and fast. Playing with a verve that matched the Germans. They now have a clash with Holland in the last group match. The prize for the winner: avoiding Brazil in the last 16.  Assuming Brazil secure top place their group, which is not a foregone conclusion, after their poor performance against Mexico.

And so on, in day 8, to England’s defining moment. Uruguay awaits….


About John S

I'm blogging about the things I love: music, sport, culture, London, with some photos to illustrate aspects of our wonderful city. I’ve written a novel called “The Decision”, a futuristic political thriller, and first of a trilogy. I’m also the author of a book on music since the 1970s called “ I Was There - A Musical Journey” and a volume of poetry about youth, “Growin’ Up - Snapshots/ Fragments”. All available on Amazon and Kindle.
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2 Responses to Sportsthoughts (108) – World Cup reflections, day 7

  1. Dood says:

    John! Your World Cup commentaries are coming thick and fast. (Well, fast – don’t mean to imply they’re thick.) Fret not if you don’t get much feedback – what with wall-to-wall coverage on the telly, radio and online, the nation gripped in terrified anticipation, and one thought in every three already directed to Brazil, you’re up against a lot of competition.

    I liked your elegaic, almost poetic (I did say “almost”) hymn of farewell to the conquistadores. (Oh god, I’m at it now.) It’s true that they have been great, but they looked pretty stunted last night. And stunned. May take quite a while to rebuild the model.

    Which is, of course, Germany’s genius – the new models keep on coming. Very, very few sides achieve that in world football.

    Still backing the mighty Argentinians for the Cup. I think I always do?

    • John S says:

      Almost poetic will do! It’s impossible not to write about the World Cup, but it won’t be every day. My prediction of a Brazil v Spain final with Brazil winning has already fallen and I’m not confident about Brazil either. But there is an ebb and flow at World Cups. Look at Germany at the last one. Looked unstoppable, but didn’t make the final. I do rather fancy them this time though….

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