Tag Archives: spain vs germany

One great goal for Spain, one own-goal in Catalonia

8 Jul

Now imagine this.

Imagine, and I know it’s pretty unlikely, but try.

Just for one minute, try and imagine what would happen if England qualified for a World Cup final.

Especially after a less than brilliant series of matches sealed by some spectacular, if occasionally lucky goals.

After a semi-final against a powerful opponent who had possibly played better than anyone in the tournament so far.

A semi final in which EVERY SINGLE PLAYER pulled their weight, defending, assisting, passing and repeatedly shooting at goal.

There would, by rights, be dancing in the streets, singing, drinking, cheering and flag-waving. There would be a sense of unity and shared joy up and down the country, and the next day all the newspapers would have a big picture of the team or the goalscorers, maybe a Union Jack somewhere and a big headline saying YES! or FOOTBALL’S COMING HOME or IT’S 1966 ALL OVER AGAIN, and (in the case of the tabloids) several politically incorrect drubbings of the other team – especially if they happened to be Germany, Argentina or France.

But all the papers would have the beaming faces of Rooney, Lampard, Ashley Cole, Capello and the rest of ’em splashed all over the front page and the back page too, from The Guardian to the Daily Mail, from the Yorkshire Post to the Tooting and Mitcham Advertiser, regardless of political leanings. I would even wager that England players might even make the front pages of The Scotsman despite the fact that many Scotland fans had vowed to support any other team but England.

So, given the fact that Spain have just achieved such a feat, and have never made it past the quarter finals before in any World Cup, you’d expect the press to be united in their praise of the national team’s sterling effort, putting political and regional differences aside for once?

After all, Marca journalists did witness Spanish flags in the Plaza Canaletas – where Barça fans celebrate their teams victories – and people shouting “oa oa oa, Barcelona es española”, which did at one stage seem as likely as Maradona wearing an England shirt.

But then again, the goal that made the difference was from shaggy-haired warrior” Carles Puyol, Barça captain and genuine Catalan. Xavi, and Piqué are also Catalans and on the blaugrana payroll, while Capdevila was born in Lérida (or Lleida, if you must). Iniesta is a key Barça player, and if I’m not wrong Cesc Fabregas came to prominence in the Camp Nou youth teams. Pedro also played a key part in yesterday’s match, and he also has a few blue and red shirts hanging in his wardrobe back in BCN.

So really, much as many Madridistas (of which I count myself) may knock Barça – especially after Joan Laporta tried to use the club as a springboard to his dreams of a recession-proof future in nationalist politics (until the fraud squad get on to you.. or DEC/Salvame/La Noria etc, ask Julián Muñoz!) the truth is that many of Spain’s best players play there, and from next season that includes David Villa as well.

However, the old saw that there are “two Spains” (I’m not talking about the team that played Switzerland and the team that played Germany, I’m on a geopolitical tip here) is rearing its ugly head again. Even within Catalonia itself.

Take a look at the two editions of today’s Barcelona based newspaper El Periodico (great “cool” Barcelona minimalist name – it means “the newspaper”) below, the Spanish version on the left and the Catalan version on the right.

The Spanish version is headlined RED GLORY and boasts a huge photo of triumphant Carles Puyol just after his soon-to-be-legendary header.

The Catalan version DOES NOT EVEN MENTION the match at all, and opts to go for a story about Cuba planning to free some political prisoners, along with a picture of some politicians denying any links with corruption on the costas.

It’s as if the match never happened, a bit like what the papers were like in the times of Franco… if something happened that the rulers disapproved of then rather than report on it, albeit critically, it was just ignored and not mentioned. Check the date at the top of each paper.. a big eight, TODAY.

But to look at them you’d think the Catalan one was Wednesday’s.

Come on people, this is a great day, and if you want to use the excuse that a Catalan and a Barcelona stalwart has got a handful of Barcelona players and another handful of hangers-on into a World Cup final then go ahead. But maybe if you are really shortsighted enough to consider the likes of Casillas, Sergio Ramos and Xavi Alonso as hangers-on then it could be that refereeing is the career option for you. We all love Puyol today. A credit to the nation. Whatever your concept of his nation is. Plus, in being a fan of Napalm Death, Cannibal Corpse and The Ramones (you’d never have guessed to look at him, would you), Puyol shows he has moderately better taste than the likes of (Saint) Iker Casillas who put the likes of Julio Iglesias and Manolo Escobar on his iTunes playlist. (Schweinsteiger had “Paper Planes” on his!)

Catalan sports papers like the imaginatively named Sport (Sport, El Periódico.. can you see a pattern here?) were full of praise for last night’s feat, coining the term PUYOLAZO into the bargain (you Google it!). So, “serious papers” (and what I believe people back in Blighty refer to as “haters“) in Catalonia, just get a grip and enjoy the party (and the partido on Sunday) and for God’s sake don’t line up some “Sorry Spain fails again” headline if by some unlucky chance Holland wins the match.

Then again, the Catalan Periódico did have some solace for football fans on its front page… a picture of our old friend Sara Carbonero.

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Jesus Cruyff!

7 Jul

A lot has happened in World Cup land since my last post.

Firstly England were knocked out by Germany, and Rooney, Cole, Terry, Lampard and co. were sent home with their collective tail between their legs. Well… maybe apart from Ashley Cole who possibly had his tail between someone else’s legs. Allegedly.

Then one by one big guns were knocked out, including hypothetical finalists such as Brazil and Argentina and big stars like Cristiano Ronaldo. Even the much lauded successor to Maradona – Leo Messiwas unable to notch up a single goal (possibly due to the fact that Xavi wasn’t in the Argentinian squad to pass to him), and El Pelusa himself (it means “Fluff” by the way, lord knows what the late Alan Freeman would have made of that, pop pickers..) eventually had to blub an embarrassed adios (or “AD10S” as the Spanish press styled it) to his dream job. Italian and French politicians asked questions about their respective teams’ piss-poor performance, and referees’ decisions were once more questioned, leading Sepp Blatter to make some vague promise to introduce technology into subsequent tournaments to stop such embarrassing gaffes reoccurring.

Ghana were also the last African team to be knocked out, sadly sparing headline writers for Marca and As proclaiming GHANA GANA from their front pages.

But, by the skin of their teeth and God on their side, Spain, pre-tournament favourites, made it through to the semis where they meet the mighty Germany later today. Villa’s goal against Paraguay was amazing, and the game had its fair share of refcentric slip-ups, including a penalty given when it shouldn’t have been, another not given when it should have been immediately after, a penalty that had to be re-taken after being saved, a goal that was probably rightly offside.. etc..etc

And then last night (it’s gone midnight!) Holland beat Uruguay with goals from an ex-Barça player and two ex-Madridistas. A very late second goal couldn’t save Veron and co. from defeat in the dying minutes but they put up a brave fight.

Which brings us onto a tenuous link to a footy-related EP which I believe even the excellent Football and Music blog hasn’t picked up on yet.

A Japanese shoegazing band on a My-Bloody-Valentine-meets-Jesus-and-Mary-Chain tip called cruyff in the bedroom (all lower case like that), formed in 1998, the year of Japan’s World Cup debut.

Their bio states that they were named after a “Dutch soccer coach named Cruyff who died before winning a World Cup” so we can only assume that the James Osborne and Andrew Thompson who allegedly wrote or translated the band’s English language blurb are Americans. They also have a MySpace page called “only feedback” (as in “Only Shallow” meets more feedback.. can you see the influences yet?).

So here is the prize at the end of the waffle, cruyff in the bedroom’s “top of the world” E.P. in full for you to take away, to celebrate Holland getting to the World Cup finals.

And if you happen to be passing through 下北沢, they’re playing at the Club Que there on Friday week.

That’s the Japanese band, not the Dutch football team.

>>>>> cruyff in the bedroom – top of the world <<<<<

And not a word about the German psychic octopus who predicted Spain would triumph over Joachim Löw’s men on July 7th!

Ah.

Well I’m off to enter this exciting topical World Cup competition here, see you after the match!