STORY BY SARAH MOBBS
Despite my continuing support for England during the 2014 World Cup (if you read last week’s That’s What She Said, you’ll know I am trying to find any old sign that we could be in with a chance this year), my love affair with Spain has also been playing on my mind. After all, it was the 2010 World Cup that taught me to see the beauty in the Beautiful Game; drawing Spain in the work sweepstakes helped a lot there, as I then also had money riding on them to win- which, as we all know, they did, and I was better off for it!
I couldn’t help but hope that they would shine once again despite playing in conditions that many of the teams are unfamiliar with. It mattered not to me that only two teams have ever won the tournament back to back since 1930 (Italy in ’34 and ’38 and Brazil in ’58 and ’62), and it didn’t even matter to me that, taking out of the equation the playing conditions, this year’s hosts, Brazil, are also the most successful team in Word Cup history, having won the tournament five times and appearing in seven finals (including their wins). Brazil will surely be on the attack for a home win this year, as the last time Brazil hosted the World Cup (1950) they were beaten 2-1 by Uruguay.
Spain’s woes began, oddly enough, on Friday 13th June. They became the “sub” and Holland the “dom” as their 1-0 lead, turned into a harrowing 5-1 defeat as Robin and Robben scored 4 of the 5 between them. It’s hardly surprising that eventually the world would begin to look for ways to play around Spain, rather than against them but a defeat such as this, in their opening game was a complete and utter shock to me, and very possibly the rest of the world!
As you will have seen by now, they fared no better on the 18th June in their second game, this time against Chile. I personally, expected them to come back fighting, ready to prove the point that they were still World Champion material. Alas, it was not to be. Chile have been looking more and more impressive over the last few years, and showed it. No doubt their defeat against Holland was still playing heavily on Spanish minds, but this, combined with already being 2-0 down at half-time left Spain desperate. I just could not believe I was watching the European, and World Champions. It was actually rather sad to see them go to pieces like that, and when all was said and done they left the pitch looking broken. Four notable missed chances here and it was all over for Spain, with Chile and Holland both on two wins a piece against both Spain and Australia (who incidentally have also been knocked out).
I will, however, not be jumping off the band wagon just yet. After all, I’m a Gunner, I’m used to disappointment and defeat! Spain have now got two years to get their acts back together for the next Euro tournament. This isn’t the first time a defending team have been knocked out the following time around; however, it is the first time after just two games.
After dominating in, particularly Europe, over the last 6 years (back to back Euro wins and a World Cup win wedged in between) Spain’s style of football has finally been cracked. I can’t really put my finger on why I was so taken with Spain – it was probably because they won me some money. Certainly it’s great to see a team you’re following win, but, it was the tension and the atmosphere that hooked me more than their actual play. I suppose it’s all very well to be dominant, but if there’s no real game, time after time, it does get boring.