Wednesday, July 02, 2008

European Championship 2008....How Was It For You?

I saw one of the last survivors of Spain’s European Championship victory celebrations yesterday. He was staggering down the Calle Preciados in Madrid wearing the shirt of the Spanish team, still just about capable of a slurred “Oe Oe Oe”. I was in Benidorm for the big match and was just a teeny bit disappointed with the victory celebrations there. Knowing how much they like noisy fireworks in this part of the world I sort of hoped the ayuntamiento might have something prepared. Perhaps they’ve had to cut back now that nobody is buying property anymore? Anyway, apart from a few loud bangs it was more or less the usual ritual of people driving round in circles hooting and shouting with flags hanging out the car windows. A bit like the street next to where I live when everyone wants to get home for lunch – but with lots more flags.

There’s no doubt in my mind that the Spanish were worth their victory. Germany hardly threatened once Ballack decided his main job was to analyze noisily and in depth every single decision by the referee. I think overall it has been one of the best tournaments I can remember since the days when Van Basten, Gullit and Rijkaard were players rather than managers or TV pundits. It seems hard to believe now that this Spanish team is not that different from the one which was humbled a couple of years ago by Northern Ireland, and which only guaranteed qualification for the final stages by putting together a good run last year.

Xavi has been named the player of the tournament, and it was the Spanish midfield in general that was their greatest strength, to the extent that they could end up playing good attacking football with a single striker. Jens “teams always lose big games when I don’t get selected” Lehmann will probably not even reflect with a bit of humility on the poor judgement that allowed Torres to neatly chip the ball over him for Spain’s winning goal. For me, though, the revelation of the Spanish team was Senna. Spain’s adopted Brazilian was consistent throughout the whole tournament, and filled that gap between midfield and defence that allows a team to go forward with more security. Ramos ended up being a bit disappointing, and although he was improving by the end he never showed the same presence as he does with Real Madrid. Although the defence in general was much more solid than I expected it to be. So in the end that grumpy git Aragonés gets to leave as a hero, I think I saw him smile the other day; or maybe it was just a grimace.

Meanwhile the impact of the Spanish victory has also crossed over into the political sphere, and a huge amount of nonsense is circulating about the meaning of the victory. There are those who like to see it as a sign of underlying unity across the country, so there are intense squabbles about how many people really celebrated in Barcelona or Bilbao. Some on the left see all the patriotic fervour as the ordinary Spaniards recovering their flag from a right wing which had tried to wrap all its protests in the last few years in a sea of red and yellow flags. There are actually quite good reasons for people not to feel too identified with the Spanish flag, and I never see much to be gained from trying to imitate the political right in flag waving ceremonies. Too often they seem to be followed by the sending of large numbers of young people to die in faraway wars, so let’s just leave patriotic head banging to those who need it. It has its mirror image in those in the Basque Country or Cataluña who are unable to enjoy a good game of football because it is not “their” team.

On the right the joy is hardly unconfined, around Libertad Digital they have been protesting about the designation of the Spanish team as “La Roja”, that awful colour which represents the evil Zapatero’s attempts to install a regime of terror in the country to equal that of Stalin! Other commentators gloomily claim that the Spanish victory will only temporarily interrupt the now inevitable disintegration of the country. All we need now is for someone to say “Come on, it’s only a game”. For the moment we have to face up to that terrible void known as July, where hardly any football of any kind is played.


Keefieboy said...

Hey, 'my' team weren't even in it. So at least I could celebrate that my adopted team won. Oh, and I was on telly the other night. In Plaza Colón, waving a Spanish flag.

Graeme said...

You and several hundred thousand others. I didn't see it anyway, my trusty old TV didn't make it as far as the final rounds. Can anyone recommend me a reasonably priced 32" LCD TV?

leftbanker said...

I drove over from Valencia to watch the game with some hincha friends. I tried to talk them out of staying in Colón but they were steadfast. I had a blast! The crowd was really well behaved considering it was mostly drunk-as-shit teenagers.

The after-game celebration was probably the greatest outpouring of joy I will ever witness in this life. I can't even imagine that when Spain wins the World Cup in 2010 it will match the craziness of Sunday night.

It was fitting that Torres scored the winning goal as he had a rather tame Copa until then. Too bad Villa had to watch it from the sidelines. Everyone played well. Marchena had a great game and Spain's defense... I mean 2 goals in 6 games and Casillas hardly got dirty.

Keefieboy said...

LCD tellies: PC City for sure - LG are cheap and good, and so are Samsung.

Graeme said...

Thanks, I'll check it out. The simplicity of the digital age means that every manufacturer has to have at least 75 models simultaneously available and you have to do a masters in television science to undertstand the difference between them. Thanks to the overwhelming quality of Spanish summertime tv, coupled with the absence of football, I'm not missing having one very much at the moment.

Tom said...

I'd have a look in Media Markt too, if you have one near you. they have quite a good range. Find a product number and do a google search with 'review' stuck on the end - always works for me, whatever I'm planning to get.