Sunday, July 11, 2010

España, campeones del mundo!

I watched today's World Cup final at Civic Center plaza with a few thousand friends from both sides of the Netherlands-Spain conflict. I watched the Germany-Spain semifinal at CC Plaza during my lunch hour on Wednesday, and enjoyed the camraderie and companionship of watching a match with a bunch of fellow fans without having to drink beer (something you can't do during the workday!).

Today's crowd was about five times larger than Wednesday's, and there were two large screens set up with Spain supporters on one side and Holland supporters on the other side. They were selling $6 sangrias for the Spanish fans and 6$ Heinekens for the Dutch fans (so much for not drinking beer, but it wasn't a workday!).

I was wearing an orange Barça jersey (Spanish team in Dutch colors) to appear "neutral", and could wander to either side of the plaza as the game went on, plus I actually didn't have a real horse in the game. I just wanted it to be a good game, which it really wasn't, so it was nice to stay busy with people watching and drinking without having to focus too much on the scoreless play.

There are lots of folks in the USA and around the world who only watch soccer every four years during the World Cup final, and I feel sorry for these folks, because final games almost never live up to their billing. They're like Super Bowl games in that other kind of football.

Today's game was 0-0 through regulation time, with Spain controlling possession but neither team making much of a threat, and lots of choppy play. I was pretty sure it would end up going to penalty kicks after a couple of extra periods, which is the I think is the wrong way to determine a world championship of anything. I think it should be play until someone scores, just like they do in hockey, even though that doesn't work as well with 11 players running 100 yards with no substitutions.

Luckily, this one didn't go to kicks because Barça's Andres Iniesta scored a goal in the 117th minute to put Spain on the board, and they held on for the next three minutes to win 1-0 going away. All four of their knockout victories were by the same score (1-0), and I think goalkeeper Iker Casillas was the man of the Cup for only allowing two goals in the entire tournament, but their back line was rock solid as well. After Spain scored (usually late in every game), there was no way they were going to lose.

Congratulations to Spain for a well deserved first ever World Cup title and South Africa for a great Cup. And that German octopus for picking almost every game correctly. I'm feeling sad that it's all over, but I could go a long time without hearing another vuvuzela. Those things were all over the place at Civic Center plaza today!

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