Monday, 10 May 2010

SPAIN

THEY ARE:
Widely regarded as the most pleasant country on the European continent. Every year millions of people flock to their resorts to make the most of the best things in life (on a budget).

AS A FOOTBALL NATION:
Spain have always had a pretty national team but never really quite reached the heights of France or Italy. In Barcelona and Real Madrid they have two of the strongest clubs in the world and as a result one of the most popular domestic leagues on the globe. Spain come fresh (relatively) from winning the 2008 European Championships where they beat Germany in the final with a goal from David Villa.

MY OWN EXPERIENCE:
I will never forget them demolishing an amazing Danish side at Mexico 86. Ever since they have been a regular presence in tournament finals without necessarily causing too much of a commotion until now. This is probably their best lineup of my generation and my gut instinct is that they are best avoided. Back in 1990 I was on holiday in Mallorca and remember having the greatest time watching their game against Uruguay with the locals. Their passion was friendly and infectious.

IN 2010:
Many people fancy Spain to go all the way this year. Indeed the partnership of Villa and Torres is probably the best striking unit in the competition. They enter the tournament with a record of just one defeat in their last forty eight matches (at the hands of the USA). And after winning the last European Championships people expect them to continue such form in this competition making them one of the definite favourites for the tournament.

FAMOUS PLAYERS:
Emilio Butragueno was their star when I first encountered them. He had the nickname “El Buitre” (“The Vulture”). Also in the team was the infamous Victor who appeared to be lacking a neck. Later came Salinas and Hierro. Their all time top scorer is Raul and their team is currently flooded with talent with the likes of Cesc Fabregas, David Villa, Fernando Torres and Xabi Alonso.

MOST OBVIOUS REFERENCE:
Straw donkeys.

AWAY FROM FOOTBALL:
The current thing appears to be the Primavera Festival which is considered by many to be the best music festival in Europe. An unfortunate economic dark cloud appears to be looming in the distance on Spain.

NUMBER OF PEOPLE FROM SPAIN THAT I KNOW:
Currently one and ironically she is married to a South African – perfect for this tournament.

QUOTE FROM A SPANIARD:
I’ll try but she does not like football.

DO I LIKE THEM:
I don’t dislike them. If England have to go up against them I will be worried. As a casual observer I will be able to enjoy their games and no doubt the goals of Torres and Villa but as a threat they are too dangerous to trust.

FINAL COMMENT:
I experience pain and discomfort every time I see Alonso on screen because he looks like somebody from my past I really dislike.

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