Monday, July 12, 2010

Spain win the World Cup

"All I can say is that this (World Cup victory) is for all the Arsenal players and fans, they are a world-class club. I am an Arsenal player and proud to be."

- Cesc Fabregas, European Champion, World Champion, and Arsenal captain

We love Cesc Fabregas. We all love Cesc Fabregas. There's a spiritual network of maniacally depressed gooners who see nothing but bleakness and despair in store for the Arsenal, but even we love Cesc Fabregas and are happy for him for winning the trophies he deserves. And the fact that Cesc, in the midst of the crowning achievement of his sporting career, can look back to drab north London and dedicate his victory to the Arsenal... well, it just speaks volumes about the guy's character, doesn't it?

As I said, we love Cesc Fabregas.

It wasn't a great World Cup final, but the best team won and Cesc Fabregas got his cameo and in extra-time, provided the assist for the goal that won the World Cup. It's the stuff of boyhood fantasies; the only thing that could've topped it is if he'd scored the winner himself after a mazy run through the Dutch defence... which incidentally, he would've done a few minutes earlier if he'd managed to lift the ball above the goalkeeper's foot.

I'm antipathetic about this result. I'm happy for Cesc because I love Cesc, but Spain leaves me a bit cold They play great football, but they're stocked to the brim of unscrupulous bastards who try to tap up Cesc at every opportunity. They're also the team that leaves Cesc on the bench until the 85th minute, and then watch him create more chances in his 30 minute cameo than the whole Spanish midfield did in the previous 85 minutes. Honestly, if Cesc played for Barcelona or Real Madrid (heaven forbid), he's be a nailed-on starter for the Spain side.

Overall, I quite liked this World Cup. It took about a week for the teams to warm up, and it never really developed the free-flowing drama and excitement that Japan/Korea had, but it was definitely an improvement on Germany 2006. It had (some) good goals, genuine craziness in Argentina, a couple of pantomime villains in Uruguay and Holland, and like most fairytales, offered a heart-warming ending with good (technical football) triumphing over evil (van Bommel).

I like how it was played in Africa. A neutral continent (as opposed to the Europe/South America dichotomy) throws up a lot of unexpected results, strips away home advantage, and lets the leading teams challenge on even footing. So we can see the Italy, England and France are really crap. We can see that Argentina is brilliant but crazy, and that Brazil is methodical but brittle. And when you strip away home advantage, rub off the gloss and glamour of media saturation, and we can finally see that Spain truly IS the best national team in the world.

Anyway, enough with the football. Time for the Premier League to start again. We're going into the season with a squad that's a couple of signings short of being complete. Our immediate rivals have all strengthened. We've STILL got Almunia as our first choice goalkeeper. If nothing changes between now and August, we're out of the title race before it's begun.

Still, c'mon Arsenal, I've got faith in you.

So on the 286th last day of my 20s, I got up, watched the World Cup final, headed for work, spent 8 hours working, then came home. Wondering what to do next. Listening to Angus and Julia Stone at the moment. It's a great little EP. Folksy Australian singer-songwriters can be a bit inconsistent, but these guys are quality.

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