MADRID - Spain's progress to their first
World Cup final was seen by local media on Thursday as another
vindication of their elegant brand of attacking football.
Their 1-0 victory over Germany, who had been considered the
most impressive side in South Africa to date, had Spanish
newspapers praising Vicente del Bosque's side and talking up
their prospects for Sunday's showdown against Netherlands.
"The best in the world (and on Sunday the champions of the
world)" sports daily Marca blared from their wraparound front
page over a photo of the players celebrating Carles Puyol's
winning headed goal in Wednesday's match in Durban.
El Pais wrote: "If football is art and heroism, Spain is the
team to follow. In their game against a fearsome and dazzling
Germany they had everything, they were sublime in their play and
knew to roll up their sleeves when required."
It was the manner of the victory, Spain's best performance
in the tournament so far, that was most commented on.
"Spain didn't just win, they put on an exhibition, they
played with evening suits on," wrote daily El Mundo.
"Once upon a time it was the Brazil team of 1970. Soon it
will be Spain 2010 who will be talked about as the ultimate in a
sport converted into one of the beautiful arts by the likes of
Xavi, (Andres) Iniesta, (Xabi) Alonso and the other magicians."
Spain's asphyxiating grip on the game may have been down to
their ball-playing 'artists' in midfield but it was the
shaggy-haired, old warhorse Puyol who was the centre of
attention in the papers and on the television news.
The Barcelona centre back, 32, is better known for his
last-ditch tackles, flailing locks and never-say-die spirit than
for his scoring prowess. He had only netted twice in 88
internationals before popping up with Wednesday's vital goal.
"Was it Michael Jordan jumping near the penalty spot... or
was it superman? No it was simply Puyol, with springs in his
calves, and a cape of invincibility." said El Mundo.
Spanish left-back Joan Capdevila told reporters: "It was
time a defender scored a goal. I'm all for him shaving his head
if we win the World Cup. If we win I'm going to try (to convince
Del Bosque's bold decision to leave out striker Fernando
Torres and play winger Pedro instead had been a hot topic of
conversation among fans before the kickoff but it was widely
praised as an astute move.
"Del Bosque knew that he had to do something to surprise the
Germans yesterday, and he did it. He surprised them and the
whole world," sports daily Mundo Deportivo wrote.
Images of fans decked in red and gold, celebrating in bars,
on the streets and in squares around the country on Wednesday
night, filled the papers.
"Spain is one big party," wrote sports daily AS. "None of us
have experienced anything like this not even the oldest of the
old. It's the first time the Spanish national team is going to
play the final of a World Cup."
"The whole country has been touched by the contagious
enthusiasm of this group of players, the best we have ever seen.
(After Sunday) it could be yet even greater."
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