As the Novio says, “Sport is a physical activity with marked rules in which the Spaniards always triumph.” He is, of course, basing his knowledge of the domination of Spanish sport in tennis, Formula 1, synchronized swimming, and, clearly, fútbol.
I never thought I would be interested in the most popular Spanish sport, despite playing as a kid on local teams and even for my high school. But between Betis matches and watching Spain clinch the World Cup in 2010, defeating the Netherlands in an extra play (I think my bladder nearly burst for not wanting to miss a play!), I was hooked. A por ellos.
Thankfully, there are football matches nearly every night of the week, whether it’s league play, the Champions League, or worldwide championships. Spain just completed playing in the Copa Confederaciones, or the Confederations Cup. In this precursor to the World Cup next summer, Spain easily breezed past Tahiti and Nigeria, winning its group, and then squared off against Italy in the semifinals.
As I tick off the opponents Spain has faced since 2008 and the nail-biting penalty kicks and extra minutes, I realized that Spain has long has a target on its back. One of its biggest opponents has been Italy for the last five years, particularly after Spain beat L’Azzure last summer in the EuroCup, becoming the first team to win Eurocup-World Cup-Eurocup. The Novio and I took my mom to the bar to watch the game. Nancy isn’t interested in soccer and missed me score my only goal in actual competition (I played right wing! Get over it!), as she was yapping away, and this game was no different.
After 90 minutes of play, an extra play time was added. I got flashbacks to the World Cup in 2010, watching the time drain away while the game remained scoreless. Penalty shots were kicked and each one sunk in. Italy. Spain. Italy. Spain. On penalty kick seven, Bonucci misses, allowing Seville’s own Jesús Navas to clinch the game on his kick, and sending La Roja to the finals against hometown host Brasil.
Last night, as I finished my master’s final project, I listened with earnest to the radio. Spain was going after the last cup going into the World Cup stage next year, where Germany and Brasil will likely be touch competitors. Thankfully, I was distracted from the huge 3-0 loss and turned off the tube once Marcelo started prancing around and congratulating his Real Madrid teammates on the Selección Española.
As a Cubs and Betis fan, I’ve just one lema: There’s always next year.
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