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Posted by Eduardo Alvarez on 07/07/2010

You can easily imagine that words can hardly describe what I feel right now. After a sensational display, Spain defeated Germany 1-0 and made it to the final of a World Cup for the first time in the country’s history. This utterly dominating performance against a German side that had demolished England and Argentina leaves no doubts: this Spanish squad raise their game when it is required, and fully deserve to be in the final.

The match was an impressive demonstration of patience, resources, skill and intelligence from Del Bosque’s team. Every single player improved when compared to their previous appearances. The team kept ball possession and maintained the lines really close, recovered the ball shortly after each rare loss and made the Germans run non-stop. The amazingly high standard of consistency in Spain’s passing, positioning and decision-making for the full 90 minutes can’t be hyperbolised enough. The Spaniards did put together a perfect match, and did exactly what they needed to do to beat the Germans.

I should be embarrassed to have doubted this team. During the first hour of this match, I felt like I was watching the Spain of yore play their best game of the tournament, only to miss their chances and go back home for the umpteenth time. But I should have remembered that this group, since Euro08, has always stepped it up when it mattered. In hindsight, the defeats against the US and of course against Switzerland helped the team to mature and learn. And, obviously, with a rival like Germany on the pitch, playing fair and not sitting back, the Spaniards’ possession game shined stronger.

I received over 100 emails in the 15 minutes after the match finished. Messages such as ‘I am in tears’, ‘This is happiness’, ‘I’m crying like a child’… After all these years deservedly carrying the ‘perennial underachievers’ tag from one World Cup to the next one, I totally understand the sense of liberation my fellow countrymen feel. However, I have not cried. I am not liberated. We’re still not there. We have to win the whole thing. And, playing like this, we fear no one.

I’ll write more tomorrow to reflect more on this historical match and its heroes. But now, please allow me to go out and celebrate. This is, almost, heaven.

VAMOS!!!!

Comments

Posted by kj on 07/07/2010

celebrate, indeed, ed. have one for me. i can't even imagine what joy you must feel. just know that those of us that have adopted spain as an honorary homeplace or a hoped for home stand behind la furia...and we are celebrating in our lands across the globe.

celebrate well
cheers
kj

Posted by brian on 07/08/2010

Many, many people fancied Germany simply because of their results previous to meeting Spain. The media have tried to raise Spain in order to put them down, as usual.

This is a beautiful moment in history, there is only one winner, the beautiful game, the beautiful Spaniards. Spain win no matter what the score xx

Posted by Joe on 07/08/2010

Hey Ed,

Fantastic result for Spain, the best game they have played at the WC so far, congrats and I am looking forward 2 your build up for the Final!!!!!

Posted by newf on 07/08/2010

Eduardo:

Even among those with only partial family connections to Spain the thrill is also strong. Here in California at 11:30 in the morning, 150 Spaniards, 150 Germans and 150 neutrals were packed into a place with 15 TVs and lots of beer. All were in respectful awe of Spain's performance. The chanting and singing at the end was tremendous.

It was a clean and beautiful game not marred by bad calls that could determine the outcome. The ref let them play and both teams played straight. Loew said it well. The best team won.

Now, on to the Dutch.

Posted by Mendoza Sun on 07/08/2010

So, I guess you'll be on the first flight back to SA, huh Ed...? Will be anticipating on your blogs on the pre-final festivities in SA..

An excellent display by La Armada last nite. My boy Busquets was superb in his handling of Ozil. Xavi was a better general than the previous game. And Iniesta lost the ball less. The Sheed is almost gone, and we welcome Joan.

To top it off, Puyol, who I was constantly criticizing during the first half for his earlier missed header and causing a possible Ozil breakaway, finally rose to the occasion.

One thing I do hope is that Pedro's mistake last nite (on the breakaway with Torres) would not be punished by his benching in the final. He provided a difference yesterday and I would love to see him play again alongside Villa.

Posted by Spanasian on 07/08/2010

I feel slightly embarassed to have doubted them too, though against my poorer judgment I did eventually go for a 2-1 win to Spain in my office Prediction League in the last minute.

Shame that Pedro had to end his incredible night like that... hope Torres can forgive his youthful impetuousness.

In Carles we trust. All hail the Hair of God!

Posted by Rafael on 07/08/2010

Well some Spanish/Australians are over the moon down here in OZ. What a great performanc. A 1-0 thrashing. After so many quarter final tears I am all smiles.

But I have to say I admire what Germany are doing to get their team on track. Watch out Euro 2012 and onwards.

Also the game was played in excellent spirit today, with plenty of classy winners and losers acknowleding each other.

Posted by Billy Blagg on 07/08/2010

An excellent performance and a fully deserved place in the final. I tipped Spain from the start and am pleased that a new name will be on the World Cup come Sunday. Please make it a decent final though!

Ed Alvarez: thanks for your good wishes, Mr Blagg. Your blog has been truly entertaining.

Posted by Hoernerice on 07/08/2010

Greets from germany,
u where the better team at this day. i wished our german players would have play bit more fearless to see a more exciting and entertaining game. (no i dont want to say that we had could win last night) but it hadnt must be such dominat by u guys =)
so good luke in final o/

Posted by Andrew Kunambura on 07/08/2010

I supported the Germans at the 2002 world cup but soon after that became a sudden follower of Spanish football.At Germany 2006, I was behind them and was hurt when France beat them. at the 2008 Euro I got the consolation so at the start of this tourney i was loyal to them and when they lost the opener to the Swiss my friends jeered at me but i kept the faith. When they saw the Germans mull Argentina they gave them the cup and I had a hard time trying to explain why I thought Spain would win the duel, still they could not be convinced. Those who watched it with me where speechless seeing Spain starving Germans of possession and the from the third minute to roughly the 21st Germany never got the ball. They realized I was right. It became obvious the Germans had lost it. Puyol then proved it with that 73rd minute header and I felt something lie a huge weight lifting off my shoulders. I slept peacefully that night. BRING ON THE DUTCH MASTERS

Ed Alvarez: Bring 'em on indeed...

Posted by UCHENO on 07/08/2010

I am very happy for spain.So will be all who love beautiful football.They have the best midfilders in the world in Iniesta,Xavi & Alonso.Pls do not fail me in the final.This is your chance

Posted by patizambo on 07/08/2010

I just wanted you to remenber that you suggested benching Puyol and Iniesta in your previous post.

Thank god we have Mr. Potato as the coach.

Visca España!

Ed Alvarez: correct. Both looked exhausted against Paraguay and I was terrified that they wouldn't be able to keep the pace of the Germans. They (and the rest of the team) proved that they know how to step up in the most important matches. Really glad to have been wrong.

Posted by Dorothy Martin on 07/08/2010

Congrats to brilliant Spaniards! Honestly Germany was given 90% win over Spaniards. Spaniards are my favorite in in all international tournments, i kept my spirit high, knew it wil be a tough game bt had faith on Spaniard squad. The whole team was superb, possesing the ball as if opponents were standing still, it was a great moment. Considering Germany stage to quarter final form of playing, Spaniard outplayed them completely. I have learnt that, Spaniard squad can face any best national team. No too much goal, 1 or 2 enough, and the victory is without heart attack! I mean, avoiding extra time and penalty shoot out was the best prize spaniards offered me last night as their die hard fan! Hahahaha! Cant wait for final! VIVA SPANIARD SQUAD! Viva Antonio my friend in Mallorca! ESPana For ever!

Posted by Gilbert Mwansasu on 07/08/2010

Here in Tanzania the atmosphere was superb after the win,and personally the joy was at its pick.The final will be spectacular and marvelous;considering the midfield of both teams,I must say it will be the final one will never plan to miss!

Posted by Martin Ngunja on 07/08/2010

Being a Barca supporter,cant manage to hide my joy of victory for Spain over highly rated Germany,especially considering that Spain tean constituted atleast 50% of Barca players and adopted to play Barca sttyle of play.
GO SPAIN GO,NETHERLANDS,YOUR TIME TO BE BEATEN AWAITS YOU.

Posted by Tien Mai on 07/08/2010

Spaniards are setting up their own tradition in the soccer world, with respect from the giants. Hopefully you will get through the finale.
I'm planning to learn Spanish;)
Cheers from Vietnam

Posted by mus on 07/08/2010

go espana : )

Posted by Ellen on 07/08/2010

Does anyone know what color jersey Spain is going to wear for the world cup???

Posted by Jordi on 07/08/2010

Ellen, Spain will wear all-blue in the final. Here in Spain all of us are a happy people today. A lot of years of underachievement ended yesterday

Ed Alvarez: there's one more step left, Jordi, don't forget...

Posted by Aussiebolo on 07/09/2010

Edu, I didnt cry (not yet) basically because it took about 24 hours to sink in that we are in the final of a world cup. At first I was just happy to have made the final - but now, as I sit here at work in my navy spain away strip (its casual friday!)- I think that we HAVE to win it, who knows when we will have another opportunity ? although looking at the talent in the squad, we should be around for years to come. I'll be watching the game with a few hundred other Spanish-Australians and neutrals at the Spanish Australian Club in Canberra - where we witnessed Spain win the Euros in 2008...a por ellos chavales !!

Posted by Jorge Suárez on 07/09/2010

Jordi, ¿seguro que les toca de azul?

Ed Alvarez: yep. Blue navy it is.

Posted by Kevin on 07/09/2010

Hi Ed,

Love your blog. Started following your articles since the Euros 08. I'm a big Barca fan so naturally I support Spain :)

Got a couple of questions for you:
1) What does the Spanish media make of the Spanish team being made up of so many Barcelona players (7 played in the semis)

2) Has the Spanish style of play always been this way, ie more than 60% possession all the time, or has the Barca influence come in only recently?

Ed Alvarez:

1) It simply makes sense. The national team have always been dominated by one team or another. In the early eighties it was the Basque teams, then Real Madrid, then Barcelona, then Valencia (Albiol, Marchena, Silva, Villa, Baraja, Canizares, etc), and now it is Barcelona. It's not surprising that the best team of the season have a disproportionate percentage of players in the squad.

2) Spain never had a defined style of play, which was probably our biggest weakness. We did not know what type of game we preferred.
My answer here may be controversial, but it's just my opinion. To me, this style was not originally Barça's, but Aragones'. Luis analysed the talent he had back in 2007, when he was about to be fired, and decided that a quick passing game (quicker than the one Spain play now, but that may well be a question of physical shape) was the answer. If you take a look at that team (Euro08), it had three players from Barsa (Xavi, Iniesta, Puyol), three from Valencia (Marchena, Silva, Villa), two from Real (Casillas, Ramos), two from Villarreal (Capdevila and Senna) and one from Liverpool (Torres). Despite the fact that Xavi was already the main reference, that was hardly a Barcelona team. Silva, Senna, Villa and Ramos were key pieces in their offensive and defensive approach, and their style was much more direct. They even enjoyed playing at the counter.
Under Del Bosque, I will give you that the style has evolved towards a less direct, more possession oriented approach. The fact that Pique and Busquets made the team, and that Pedro has become the 12th player changes slightly the style, and makes it more similar to that of Barcelona. And now Villa became cule too...To summarise all this, the possession approach started with Aragones, and has now incorporated some refinement from Barcelona... and a lot of their players...

Posted by Jefe on 07/09/2010

I was a student in Bilbao in 2000 and have been a loyal adopted Spaniard ever since. The skill this team has is simply astounding. One more game. Viva La Furia Roja!

Posted by Jordi on 07/09/2010

Yes, Ed, is one step left, but the underachievement sensation has ended. If Spain wins it will be great. But if 'La Roja' can't win, it won't be a national debacle. Yes, there will be some (a lot of)sadness, but also a lot of pride (specially as the days came). It won't be the quarter final 'maldicion'. It will be the 'we are subchampions' and the 'we came a step short' bittersweet sensation.
You know... we the spaniards are strange

Ed Alvarez: we are indeed. This is unchartered territory, and that's already great news. But we need one more win, and we'll be in heaven...

Posted by FÉLIX on 07/09/2010

Hola Edu desde Madrid, gracias por expresar los sentimientos de todo un pueblo en este magnifico articulo

Ed Alvarez: Gracias / Thanks!

Posted by newf on 07/09/2010

Ed:

Now, should we worry that the Dutch have been here before and need to win it this time and Spain is happy just to be in the final? That would be an odd position for the "favorite" and the dominant European team of the last few years.

Please tell us No. Our guys really expect and plan and want and need to win it all. There is no question about Villa and Puyol, but will some of the others be happy enough to look good while coming in second?

Please tell us that is NOT something to worry about.

Ed Alvarez: It is NOT. Not a single player on the team would be happy finishing in second place.
Btw, I am back in SA. What a week...

Posted by rob alvarez on 07/10/2010

Ed, I also very nearly cried tears of joy at the final whistle against Germany. I know the job is not done yet, but I'm so proud of the team even in a worst case scenario (I can't say the words for fear of jinxing the team). That being said, I am quietly confident we can take the final step. I don't think I am biased to say Spain are clearly a better team than the Netherlands? The Spanish community in Melbourne is behind the team 110%.
Vamos Espana!!!!

PS - I will miss the WC, and your regular blogs from Sth Africa, but will be very happy to not wake up at 4:30am (Australian time) to watch matches.

Posted by Punter10 on 07/10/2010

Ed - am in India and totally behind La Roja ...great to see that you are back in SA . as as with the Euro - we need a blog post from you before every game to ensure that you continue to bring luck ..looking forward to your blog on final preview ..i will end by saying that I gotta feeling tomorrow gonna be a good good nite (taking some liberties here from Black Eyed Peas) ... me thinks spain will play their best match and Torres will score (either as a start or as a sub) !!! vamos

Ed Alvarez: punter, let's hope it works out like that. The preview is already written, scheduled to be posted at 9pm SA time today.

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Eduardo Álvarez has written about Spanish football for Soccernet since Euro 2008 in Austria, where he witnessed a rare Spanish victory. He'll follow the Team Formerly Known as The Armada to South Africa, and will bring you all the news and gossips from the Spanish camp.

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