Saturday, June 24, 2006

in which my spaniards let me down, but just a little

In yesterday's news, Spain's "B" squad took a few hours to laze around a pitch awhile, which was unfortunate, since Saudi Arabia was trying to play a real match on the same green. Only Reyes and Joaquin seemed determined to secure that personal World Cup goal, and only Juanito did (a lovely header off Reyes' lovely pass), so he could laze around with his friends some more after that. When Aragones put Villa and Torres in during the second half they seemed like kids in detention ("We already PASSED this class! Why do we have to take it AGAIN?"). These kids today. I swear.

It was due to sheer luck (mostly bad luck for the Saudis) and certainly not to the quality of their defending that they kept one step ahead. As the Saudis grew more determined in their attacks, the Spaniards seemed willfully to counter it until they seemed positively desultory. I have a note here in my journal from late in the second half: "Spain defending through clumsiness and thuggery."

As shabbily as the Spaniards played the game, at least they came out to shake hands and mingle at the end, unlike Shevchenko and his Ukrainians after their Saudi victory. Straight to the locker room. Couldn't be bothered. This, from the fellow (watch him! it's true) who's always the first to whip off his kit. That man loves being shirtless in public.

Do I meander? I'm not surprised. My poor flesh begins to complain: the broken sleep cycles, the steady intake of bar food, unending torrents of coffee. Like Hamlet, I have of late foregone all custom of exercise. It struck me after Argentina v. Holland. Derek and I emerged from the Marathon blinking and pale and slightly cringing in the sun, like crepuscular creatures skittering across the bottom of a lifted rock. I walk around these days, ostensibly job-hunting, my clothes heavy with smoke, my head cluttered with caffeine flashes, my belly begging for a nice piece of fruit, maybe a thing made out of tofu and sprouts.

So it was a relief to be able to stay in for this morning's match (thank you, ABC, in spite of those soul-wearying announcers) and feel my blood chilled as it always is when Germany is in invincible mode, as they were first half. They lost their groove in the second, but Sweden never took the leap. And how about that Argentina v. Mexico? That was some fun. That Marquez. I thought I was going to hold that handball against him (v. Portugal) for a long time, but here he comes in the first five or six minutes, wiping away any lingering resentment away with one sweet sweep of the foot. Much as I enjoy both teams, I was backing the Argentines in my heart, and they came through.

Onward to England.


Shaun Huston said...

No doubt the game v. Saudi Arabia is but the beginning of Spain's inevitable slide heading into the knock-out stage. If Domenech has the good sense to have Henry, Zidane, and Trezeguet on the pitch at the same time, not even Barthez in goal will save Spain. Go Les Bleus! More seriously, I have enjoyed reading your very personal and insightful posts on the Cup (and I'm not actually all that sanguine about France's chances v. Spain, but the memory of 2002 needs to be buried).

Lynda said...

Thank you for the kind words about the blog, Shaun.

Lisa said...

Shaun, yeah, thanks for your words. I'll be thinking of you on the day! Here's hoping it's a really bad one for Barthez...