For those of us who have followed the Spanish National Team for a long time, this World Cup feels… different.
My first World Cup experience dates back to when the tournament was held in
Spaniards at the time already felt like… well, like the Chicago Cubs feel in baseball. Spain was "unlucky" and "cursed". The referees had it against them.
As a matter of fact that arrogance and excess of confidence was in full swing when they debuted in 1982 against underdog
That was a warning to me of what was to come: failure, talk without walk, and disappointments galore.
In 1986, Emilio Butragueno burst into the scene, but
Then came 1998, and it was Andoni Zubizarreta’s comical own goal that led to a bad loss to
Who knew that some of those players in the 2006 squad like David Villa, Sergio Ramos, Iker Casillas, Xavi Hermandez, or Carles Puyol would destroy the legacy of losing just two years later?
Luis Aragones, the head coach at the time, had already started to establish the famous tiki-taka style that eventually made
It was tempting for Spaniards to go back to the typical arrogant talk and declaring themselves invincible before the actual battle.
This new crop of Spanish players was different, though. Remarkably, players like Casillas, Andres Iniesta, and Xavi constantly emphasized that they hadn’t won anything yet and therefore had to show it and get it on the field. These players were humble and avoided any overconfidence. Meanwhile, Vicente del Bosque came in to establish wisdom and a sense of teamwork rarely seen in Spanish soccer. Del Bosque already managed a locker room like Real Madrid a few years earlier all the way to glory so he knew how to get everyone on the same page.
To me this was a huge factor in
I had my doubts when South Africa 2010 rolled around. After that opening loss to
This was already a dream come true for
The Iniesta winner in overtime and Casillas’s tears of joy signaled the end of the national nightmare.
You know, in the end it is stuff like this that makes the World Cup THE event.
So anyway, now we are in 2014 and
It depends on how the Spanish manage this new experience. The expectations are different. Other teams have them squarely in their sights, ready to pounce. The pressure is of a different kind. If they fail, the haters will come out of the woodwork and accuse them of being a fluke.
Considering the history before