Gods and Monsters

Has La Roja become the stuff of really boring nightmares?
Share |
The Spanish national soccer team

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Fear not, reader. Recent dispatches from the land that Giovanni Trapattoni built with his own bare hands as pig-eyed locals watched on with flabbers gasted may have led you to believe that your correspondent had disappeared for good into a solipsistic rut regarding Ireland's interesting showing in the European Championships. Not so. The great thing about seeing your team repeatedly thrashed at a major tournament is that there's always something else to look at while you're collecting bits of your dreams from surrounding acres. Prising apart our mud-spattered eyelids, we've been able to see that apart from Certain Events, this has been a good tournament.

At least, there have been a lot of good games. So far, there has been an accumulation of enjoyable discrete units of football rather than a multiplication. Which is great; there are alternatives far worse than that. It's just lacked the continual ravishment that Euro 2008 supplied. The difference between now and 2008 is that then, everything was up for grabs. Of the four European semi-finalists in the 2006 World Cup, Italy were worthy winners but short on greatness, France had been left without Zinedine Zidane but with Raymond Domenech and the beginnings of a slow and hilarious meltdown, and Portugal played like Cristiano Ronaldo and his band of session footballers. Only Germany seemed to have something to look forward to, but they were just starting to crawl out from the wreckage of their lost years. So with no clear favourite, every great performance mistakenly seemed like the start of something big. That Spain so thoroughly deserved the title in the end and thus kickstarted their greatest era makes that excitement seem a little silly in retrospect. But ye gods, it was fun.

Since then, a new firm has developed. Spain and Germany are the Establishment. 2008 was a roiling sea from which new continents emerged, and now there is order. So as fun as the play has been, there has been a dependable reference point to keep things in perspective.

This constancy was most evident in Spain's quarter-final win against France. When you're Establishment, people will often defer to you instinctively, whether or not they realise they're doing it. It's a perk. Sometimes you don't have to do anything in particular to frighten your opponents into submission; they come pre-spooked. France were cautious to the point of lifelessness. They bled themselves to death. Spain barely had to try. They scored within twenty minutes, and it was enough to win; the late second goal was a satisfied burp. Hardly a thing happened all night. It was almost Zen. Or, if you like, it was boring.

It was also tremendously impressive, especially if you consider Spain's long history of underachievement. 2008 was their giddy liberation. By the 2010 World Cup, they had been supplemented by the effect of two years of Guardiolism at Barcelona, and opponents were terrified of them. Everyone—even the young thrusters of Germany—set out to stop the irresistible force. Spain were accused of being boring then too, but there are only so many ways you can confront an immovable object. There was still an anxiety about Spain, not least after they lost their opener to Switzerland. They could never be quite sure that their Euro triumph hadn't been a one-off, an anomaly. But by winning the World Cup, they overcame their demons.

Now that all that fretting is out of the way, it's a new epoch. Spain played as they did in 2010 because it was all they could do. Now, they do it because it's all they have to do. Their opponents' obeisance is met with a swagger, and they can do almost as they please. Against France, Cesc Fàbregas played as a striker. Playing that high up the pitch, his usual directness was nullified, because he needs some distance through which to direct himself. He acted like a plug in a plughole, a stopper centre-forward. But it didn't matter; all they had to do was keep passing it around the French. At its liveliest, Spain's possession game is as thrillingly stealthy as something in plain view can be; it can make them resemble a team of well-kempt Solid Snakes. At their worst, it can turn into a sludge, something with the consistency of an EPO user's blood. Either way, they almost always win. And so the traits that have got them where they are have become set, or even exaggerated. Possession football is at least as much about defensiveness as about offensive intent. That conservatism can be rooted in anxiety ("Without the ball we are a disastrous team": Guardiola). But Spain have transcended that, and the conservatism is a restatement of their position. Not for them Germany's naive exuberance. They've been there. They've gotten over that stuff. This is Spain's Imperial Phase.

(I once described a Clásico as being like "two mongooses trying to mesmerize one another, and succeeding". Perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise that a team mostly comprising Real Madrid and Barcelona players should play like a mongoose trying to mesmerize itself.)

Maybe this will be Spain's undoing. Maybe it will drive them mad, or send them disappearing up their own backsides, or leave them flat-footed when a team really can challenge them. Right now, they are a big cat so fearsome its quarry drops dead in sheer terror. He feasts on it and dozes in the savanna sun knowing that no other son of a kit is going to come near him. But maybe that creature on the horizon—staring at his rival, standing with his legs slightly too far apart to be comfortable, his mane glistening in the sun (with the fat from previous kills, no doubt)—will turn his jugular into a geyser. Or maybe nemesis trails the German or Italian pack. Or maybe one of these enemies might at least force Spain into a gallop (Italy gave it a right good go in the first round).

Or, you know, maybe not. Spain might well win it all while keeping their pulse (and ours) at a steady 72. In which case, we will be confronted, fools that we are, with an uncomfortable truth about sport.

Are Spain boring? That's easy: if they bore you, they're boring to you. Of course, sport is about flinging us skyward as if we were in ejector seats. But it's also a craft whose expert practice has a value distinct from that of delighting the spectator. When it's not enough to describe athletes as merely superhuman and we find ourselves clumsily calling them gods, maybe this is what we mean: in a way, the game is always being played above us. Gods depend for their existence on our belief. But that's all they need. They might want to excite us, but it isn't compulsory. As long as they have our attention, and make us acknowledge them while keeping us from willing their demise, they're there, fighting each other, loving each other, making the sun shine, making the rain fall. They have to listen to our prayers some of the time, but mostly, we're the patsies down below who have to deal with their ambition and caprice. We could probably stop believing if we tried hard enough. But until that day comes, there will always be competitors who go so far that they can afford to take liberties with earthbound mundanity. If they lose, you might consider it hubris. In truth, the only ones who can humble them are other gods.


Share |

Comments

It is very good, but look at the information at this address. peripheral neuropathy 

This was truly a fascinating subject and I kinda concur with what you have specified here! official source

I discovered your site ideal for me. It consists of wonderful.. weight loss

This sort of message continually moving and I like to peruse quality substance, so upbeat to discover great spot to numerous here in the post, the composition is simply awesome, a debt of gratitude is in order for the post. Loft conversions richmond

I can set up my new thought from this post. It gives inside and out data. A debt of gratitude is in order for this profitable data for all,.. weight loss

You know your projects stand out of the herd. There is something special about them. It seems to me all of them are really brilliantbig wine glass

I might want to thank you for the endeavors you have made in composing this article. I am trusting the same best work from you later on also. Much obliged... dofollow backlinks

In this case you will begin it is important, it again produces a web site a strong significant internet site: bodrum escort

Profit primarily prime quality items -- you can understand them all within: cheap holiday

Find the best essays on is my friend's profile page. best facebook comments

I discovered your this post while scanning for some related data on online journal search...Its a decent post..keep posting and upgrade the data. best phones for selfies

That’s really amazing and extraordinary blogs & can help those who get issues in searching this type of information.
florida vs south carolina auto prices

I hope you will share such type of impressive contents again with us so that we can utilize it and get more advantage.
simple easy payday loans that are quick

thank the author of this article; the article has great significance for me, it just me to do better for this life. Very meaningful, thank you very much, wish you happy Halloween Costume Canada

I am consistently astounded by the measure of data accessible on this subject. What you exhibited was very much inquired about and eloquent keeping in mind the end goal to get your stand on this crosswise over to every one of your perusers. click here

A debt of gratitude is in order for sharing the information, keep doing awesome... I truly delighted in investigating your site. great asset... loft conversions london

Extraordinary things you've generally imparted to us. Simply continue written work this sort of posts.The time which was squandered in going for educational cost now it can be utilized for studies.Thanks loft conversions london

It is basic that we read blog entry deliberately. I am as of now done it and find this post is truly stunning. plumber bexleyheath

Its an incredible joy perusing your post.Its brimming with data I am searching for and I want to post a remark that "The substance of your post is amazing" Great work. Emergency plumbers bexleyheath

Superb article. Extremely fascinating to peruse. I truly love to peruse such a pleasant article. Much obliged! continue shaking. nouvalift instant wrinkle reducer

high tf backlinks Great article Lot's of information to Read... johntechseo Great Man Keep Posting and update to People..Thanks trust flow backlinks

Much thanks to you for the redesign, extremely pleasant site.. voyance en ligne

I have as of late begun a web journal, the data you give on this website has helped me incredibly. A debt of gratitude is in order for the greater part of your time and work. fridge repairs

This is such an awesome asset, to the point that you are giving and you give it away for nothing. I cherish seeing blog that comprehend the worth. Im happy to have discovered this post as its such a fascinating one! I am dependably watchful for quality posts and articles so i assume im fortunate to have discovered this! I trust you will be including more later on... blog comments seo

You finished a couple fine focuses there. I did an inquiry on the subject and discovered almost all persons will oblige with your online journal. related site

In the event that you set out to make me think today; mission achieved! I truly like your written work style and how you express your thoughts site here

Awesome!!! the article is actually the best topic on this registry related issue. I fit in with your conclusions and will eagerly look forward to your next updates. Just saying thanks will not just be sufficient, for the fantasti c lucidity in your writing. Cheap adjustable dumbbells

I felt very happy while reading this site. This was really very informative site for me. I really liked it. This was really a cordial post. Thanks a lot! Tobacco

This is an incredible moving article.I am essentially satisfied with your great work.You put truly extremely accommodating data... loft conversions

Pleasant to be going to your web journal once more, it has been months for me. Well this article i've been sat tight for so long best booters

Pleasant to be going to your web journal once more, it has been months for me. Well this article i've been sat tight for so long best booters

It is great to have the opportunity to read a good quality article with useful information on topics that plenty are interested one.I concur with your conclusions and will eagerly look forward to your future updates. Diploma in Travel & Tourism

Extraordinary things you've generally imparted to us. Simply continue written work this sort of posts.The time which was squandered in going for educational cost now it can be utilized for studies.Thanks cheap flowers delivered

A good blog always comes-up with new and exciting information and while reading I have feel that this blog is really have all those quality that qualify a blog to be a one Commercial Electrician

I was perusing your article and thought about whether you had considered making a digital book on this subject. You're composing would offer it quick. You have a great deal of composing ability. Instagram Viewer

This is only the data I am finding all over the place. A debt of gratitude is in order for your site, I simply subscribe your site. This is a pleasant web journal.. bunches flowers discount codes

I have bookmarked your blog. the articles are way better than other similar blogs.. thanks for a great blog secure proxy

i truly like this article please keep it up. Van hire london

Simply respecting your work and considering how you dealt with this web journal so well. It's remarkable to the point that I can't stand to not experience this significant data at whatever point I surf the web! Plumbers

Much obliged such a great amount for sharing this amazing data! I am anticipating see more postsby you! going here

where did u come up with the information on this posting?I have read a few of the articles on your website now homepage

I appreciate you sharing this blog.Really looking forward to read more homepage

Excellent .. Amazing .. I’ll bookmark your blog and take the feeds also…I’m happy to find so many useful info here in the post, we need work out more techniques in this regard, thanks for sharing homemade pregnancy test with toothpaste

I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well. .click

That’s really amazing and extraordinary blogs & can help those who get issues in searching this type of information.
Sequoia India

Hi Dear, have you been certainly visiting this site daily, if that's the case you then will certainly get good knowledge iPhone 6 / 6S Screen Protector Tempered Glass

You have a real ability for writing unique content. I like how you think and the way you represent your views in this article. Donald Trump

Your articles are more than wow! And also the best way to make understand the things mentioned in it.
Mark Curry

I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well. salvia for sale

This is a great inspiring article.I am pretty much pleased with your good work.You put really very helpful information. Keep it up. Keep blogging. Looking to reading your next post medical illustration