Can Spain win the World Cup in Brazil? Could they pull off the unthinkable and become Champions of Euro 2008, World Cup 2010, Euro 2012, and now World Cup 2014? I’d be bloody impressed if they do, and if England don’t win (you have to be optimistic in life) then I will be rooting for La Roja as always.
I’m not so sure they can become World Cup champions again though. I had my doubts that they were going to win any of the previous three competitions, especially Euro 2008, but that was mainly because of the low expectations the locals had.
I remember that tournament in Austria and Switzerland clearly. Part of me was gutted that England wasn’t there, but another part was relieved that I didn’t have to suffer the usual torture of watching us getting smashed out on penalties again. I could support another team though, Spain. I respect Spain and have always liked the way they play. I sort of felt sorry for them too, just like England they had a half decent team, but never got past the quarter finals.
I was surprised by the attitude of my students back in 2008. I was teaching a bunch of adults and they all laughed when I asked if they thought Spain could win the Euros.
“Spain? Nah, we always lose in los cuartos.”
“Spain? But we are rubbish; the manager doesn’t know what he is doing.”
“Spain? I think England have more of a chance.”
“Well, I doubt that somehow,” I said.
You get the picture.
Even with the mighty Luis Aragonés as a manager, the expectations were generally low. I say generally but my brother-in-law was convinced Spain was going to make history.
“Look at the team we have: Casillas, Ramos, Puyol, Iniesta, Xavi, Alonso, Fabregas, Torres, and Villa Maravilla.”
Once the campaign started and Spain smashed through the group stages by beating Russia, Sweden and Greece the atmosphere began to change. The fans really believed there was hope.
“I told you,” said my cuñao, “this is the year!”
As an Englishman my main fears were that Spain was going to get knocked out on penalties. When it was still 0 v 0 against Italy after extra time, I was convinced they were doomed. But luckily I was wrong. When Fabregas poked in the last penalty, suddenly my devotion for La Roja began to grow. I loved the way they played and respected their determination and will to win. I joined the rest of Spain in the celebrations and took on the new belief that Luis Aragonés could lead his men to victory.
Watching them do Russia, and of course the Germans in the final, was absolute magic. It was lucky because normally I go home to England in July, but that year I decided to stay. It was great to see the city of Seville partying that night, although the celebrations weren’t as intense as when Sevilla F.C. won the Uefa Cup.
I must say I was expecting the celebrations to continue though. The next day was as if nothing had happened. There were hardly any flags hanging out the windows and only a few people were wearing Spain shirts. Perhaps in other parts of Spain the celebrations were more intense.
I think the main reason why Spain won that year was because of Luis Aragonés. After his sad death on the 1st of February this year, they showed a documentary on his powerful impact on the Spanish team. A lot of people believe he inspired the players to victory that year and started this positive feeling in the Spanish side. You only have to watch the way he shouted and motivated his players to realise what a powerful man he was and how much he helped Spain. A lot of the main players; Puyol, Xavi, Iniesta all said in interviews how much of a leader he was. He will be sadly missed this year. Even Torres pointed to the sky in his honour when he scored against Bolivia the other night.
The World Cup 2010 in South Africa was equally as enjoyable. My Spanish students finally had some confidence about themselves and the general vibe in the air was positive. This time it was Vincente Del Bosque who led the team to victory. He kept the same tiki taka – passing football, strategy, which allowed Spain to beat Portugal, Paraguay, Germany and Holland to win the World Cup for the first time in history. Again it was a magical tournament, and as soon as England got knocked out I was rooting for them to win.
No one thought they were going to win the Euros again though. I certainly didn’t. But they only bloody did it. They smashed their group and then beat France, Portugal, and Italy (4 v 0 in the final) and went on do something that no one had ever done before, and probably never will again, by winning three in a row.
The big question is; can they make it four? They have a tough group this year with games against Holland (13th June – 17.00 Spanish time), Chile (18th June – 17.00), and Australia (23rd June – 14.00). Also they have the possibility of meeting Brazil or Croatia in the next round. I’m hoping to see them play Brazil, not only so one has to get knocked out (Come on, I’m English at heart), but also to see an amazing game where Diego Costa has to face his own country.
I’m not so sure they will make it this year, but I did say that at the start of Euro 2012. How can one team win four major international trophies in a row? Despite losing a few key players like Puyol, Navas, and Negredo, they still have the main bulk and experience of winning. The spirit must still be alive. Surely they will be playing with Luis Aragonés in their hearts.
I’d be absolutely amazed if they win it again. If they do, then it will have to be a massive chapò – hats off! I’m just hoping we manage to steer clear of them so there isn’t war at home.
What do you think? Do you want to see Spain win again? Or have you had enough of La Roja and want to see someone else win this year’s World Cup in Brazil?