I start the week with a confession: yesterday
afternoon, the rain tipping down outside, I took to my armchair to watch the
European Cup Final between Spain
I can’t remember the last time I settled down in front
of the telly to sit through a football match from start to finish – probably
about 1967. I didn’t even watch the England games
earlier in the tournament. I hadn’t
intended to stay in place yesterday, until it became clear, early on in the
game, that something special was unfolding.
For the record, Spain
won 4 goals to nil.
The verdict from this rugby aficionado – who’s out of
touch with the tactical imperatives that drive the modern game, and who didn’t
know the name of a single player on the field – was that it was a masterful
performance by Spain and the match overall an entertaining spectacle. The game flowed at great pace – mostly, it
must be said, in the direction of the Italian goal – and there were few fouls or
stoppages. Nor were there any
histrionics over questionable decisions.
The referee was blessedly inconspicuous, a tribute to his competence.
The poor Italians were run ragged from the opening
whistle. The Spaniards passed with an accuracy
that at times seemed devilishly uncanny, often threading balls through minute
gaps between defenders that even to the television spectator, with all the
advantages of a bird’s eye view, seemed virtually impenetrable.
All this came as a surprise to me, though it shouldn’t
have, as Spain
has now won three international football tournaments in a row, including the
I don’t think Spain’s sublime demonstration will
lure me back to the game I forsook decades ago, but more games like this and my
interest just might return.
Meanwhile, I’m happy for the Spanish people. Struggling with an economic crisis that has
no end in sight, they finally get some news to raise the spirit.