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.