Spaniards finally feel World Cup euphoria

2010-06-30 08:38

Most Spaniards were at last pleased with their World Cup team after

Tuesday’s Round of 16 1-0 win over neighbours Portugal in Cape Town.

Spanish fans and media have been fairly critical about Vicente del

Bosque’s side after a debut defeat against Switzerland, and unconvincing wins

over Honduras and Chile.

But the reaction to the Portugal win was enthusiastically positive,

even euphoric.

More than 15 million Spaniards watched the game, many at outdoor

World Cup parties in the major cities.

As expected, La Roja dominated from start to finish, thanks to the

stylish possession football – affectionately called “tiqui-taca” – that took

them to triumph at Euro 2008.

Even so, there was an agonising wait until the crucial goal finally

went in, the first one conceded by a solid Portugal in the entire

tournament.

As usual, the Spanish hero was David Villa, who finally broke the

deadlock and translated La Roja’s clear superiority into a material

advantage.

“The Walls of Jericho have finally been breached,” commented

television channel Tele5 as the entire country exploded with delight and

relief.

The final whistle in Cape Town provoked a collective outburst of

joy across Spain, with flags waving from the balconies and cars honking their

horns.

A record Spanish television audience of 20 million is expected to

watch Saturday’s quarterfinal against Paraguay, in which Villa will again lead

Del Bosque’s attack.

Villa has scored four of Spain’s five goals in South Africa, and

the team’s dependence on him is one of the few negative notes struck by the

media today.

One of the questions asked on Madrid radio station Cadena COPE was

“who will score the goals if Villa gets injured or loses form”?

Barcelona paper El Periodico said “there is a clear dependency on

Villa, and that is slightly worrying”.

El Periodico and other papers alluded to the “poor physical

condition” of Fernando Torres, Villa’s misfiring strike partner.

Radio station Cadena SER suggested that for the Paraguay clash, Del

Bosque should opt for young Athletic Bilbao striker Fernando Llorente instead of

Torres.

Llorente came on for Torres after an hour and gave the Spanish

attack vigour and profundity, in contrast to the hard-working but out-of-sorts

Torres.

Another critical comment made was that Spain needed to be more

clinical in front of the goal area. Sports daily Marca commented that “the team

needs around 10 clear chances to convert just one”.

The rest of the media reaction was extremely positive.

Barcelona playmaker Xavi, who was voted man of the match by Fifa,

was singled out for special praise, along with Villa.

Catalan paper Sport said “Xavi is the king of tiqui-taca and was

pulling all the strings last night”.

Right-back Gerard Pique and central defender Sergio Ramos were

singled out for special praise, alongside Xavi, Villa and Llorente.

The Spanish media were unanimously critical of the tactical

approach of Portugal manager Carlos Queiroz.

Radio Marca commented that “Queiroz’s plan to defend in depth and

hit Spain on the break went up in flames when Villa scored. There was no Plan B

at all.”

Cristiano Ronaldo, who plays his club football for Real Madrid,

also came in for criticism for his attitude. AS.com carries a photograph of the

petulant winger spitting at a cameraman at the end of the game.



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