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That, lads, was some stunning, stunning football. Beautiful, near-sublime, masterful, devastating and sexy as all get-out. That is what a grand final should look like; the second half for Italy was unfortunate to being painful, but the first half already made the Spanish point emphatically. This is one of those supreme eras seen in international football that permanently raises the bar for the term "greatest team in history"; the record-setting championship performance of La Furia Roja is only the statistical tip of the iceberg of what they've done.

And it was interesting that the commentary kept noting how this was being labelled "boring" football, the level of possession Spain regularly maintains of the ball, so that it doesn't keep switching back and forth in more superficially exciting ways, and I was gratified that the commentators repeatedly made the point of what good football this was. I mean, they used far more colourful hyperbole than that, and with good reason. They spoke of the "New Total Football" Spain is developing as their fullback scored their second, gorgeous goal, and of Spain's domination, their technique, their passing. Oh lordy, their passing. Is it getting hot in here? *fans self*

Okay, I'm pretty sure my conversation!kink comes from the same place as my, uhm, appreciation for their passing game. It's not the frenzied excitement of the goalmouth; it's the quiet, constant, deep excitement of their astonishing touch, precision, and positional play. "Superlative" is an understatement. Consider this: six years ago, they imploded in the early knockout rounds of the World Cup, imploded just as they had done every single time they made it to the competition. The reason? Brilliant individual players (perhaps the best in the world, almost certainly in Europe), but a national team riven by fierce club rivalries and geo-political divisions. Players that valued the national league over the national team. A team that, for all its individual prowess, could not cohere. And therefore could not get further than the quarter finals, even though their on-paper quality meant they absolutely should be able to.

That was six short years ago. Four years ago they won this very championship, and are as of this evening the first team in history to retain that championship. Two years ago, they won the World Cup. And as they've progressed, their passing game has become ever sharper, ever more fluid and uncanny. The key to that level of passing? Cohesion. A team so thoroughly integrated that they move as one and the ball moves with them. Someone, somewhere, decided that they were fed up with Spain not meeting its staggering potentinal and, I'm willing to bet, kicked arse until those players, some of whom couldn't stand each other, became a team. And underpinning it all, steady, cool, and sure, is their captain and (for my money) the best goalkeeper I have ever seen in action. Amidst the shuffling of top-calibre players and managers coming and going, he is not the team's shining star but their very backbone. Trust me on this. The things you can do when you have a keeper you can absolutely trust to anchor your team, let alone when you have the best pool of football talent to draw from in the world, is scarcely to believed – if we weren't witnessing it right now.

(Didn't really help that it was against Buffon, also captaining from goal up the other end. As a man, he seems quite lovely. As a goalkeeper, I find him terribly hard to watch, one of the few goalkeepers I simply don't – can't – enjoy. Somehow he has ... I don't know, floppy hands. It makes my spine tense up. He keeps spilling the ball, to my eye. Compared to Casillas's pouncing shot-stopping, incredible reflexes and positional instincts, and gracefully taut hands on the ball, it almost felt unfair that they were compared as they were.)

Oh, and about Spain meeting their potential? They're not there yet. I promise you. Over the next four, maybe six years, this is the team to watch; the term "golden age" will be a well and truly worn-out platitude by the time this generation passes into the history books.

Anyway. Since I haven't actually slept all night, I might try to get a few hours now.



( 5 speakses — have a speak )
Jul. 2nd, 2012 02:18 pm (UTC)
They're called The Red Fury? Ha, that's awesome.

Awww, I really enjoy your enthusiasm.

Yay, I'm happy for you. \o/
Jul. 2nd, 2012 02:46 pm (UTC)
La Roja/La Furia Roja is their nickname. They don't really do anything by halves, the Spanish! And somehow they've managed to ensnare me too. Everything else I follow and fangirl, I can love and adore and cuddle and call George while simultaneously maintaining some scrap of protective, ironic detatchment (if not a great deal more than a scrap!) as you well know. But not this lot. I can keep no distance; no matter how I try, I sit on my couch, eyes glued to the screen. They make my heart race, they make my heart sing. Thank goodness they only compete every two years. I don't think I could take it otherwise, and everyone would get sick of my incessant babbling.

I found a site with some pretty gorgeous photos of the final, if you're interested. Nothing quite as good as the previous shot, but still. In the bottom quarter are the celebrations, and some of the ones of the Spanish players with their kids are beautiful. Plus, CUTE Spanish and Italian players. In case you need an incentive. ;)
Jul. 2nd, 2012 03:04 pm (UTC)
They make my heart race, they make my heart sing.

Hee, it's nice to see you all flaily. Also, YAY for singing and racing hearts! Damn it feels good when that happens. \o/

Ooh, pictures.
Jul. 3rd, 2012 07:17 am (UTC)
Nice? No nice! It's embarrassing! I feel like I'm sixteen years old. It's undignified. *grumblegrumble* Plus, half the time my heart's racing because I'm nervous for them. This is a recent development, and I don't like it. I don't do "nerves". Frugh. If I weren't a leetle bit in love with them, I'd never want to see them again! As it is, I'm planning to forget they exist for the next year and a half.

*nods firmly*

(But oh, it's fun while it lasts.)
Jul. 3rd, 2012 03:37 pm (UTC)
If I weren't a leetle bit in love with them, I'd never want to see them again!

( 5 speakses — have a speak )

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