Friday, May 30, 2014

Meet the Team: Spain

Nickname: I actually appreciate the Spanish method of weaving in the jersey color into their nickname: La Furia Roja (The Red Fury) is a fine way to go.

Star: The plethora of options, creators, finishers, defenders and just general talent is embarrassing. Narrowing those options to one star is like identifying the single best peanut M and M's in a pound worth of them. Let's just say Andrés Iniesta and brace for the torrent of angry fans defending their own favorite.

Hip-Star: If you can find an under-the radar Spanish player, you should talk to NORAD, because, your skills shouldn't be wasted on futbol. Since Fernando Torres and David Villa are aging up top, and most recent spotlight stealer Diego Costa is hurt, we'll say the Spanish player who is most important, but most absent from mainstream debate is: Álvaro Negredo.

for the role of "Kind Grampa"
X-Factor: There is no way to ignore it, the road to the trophy goes straight through Spain, which is both a sign of their talent and of the fact that the whole world is plotting against them. Every team that knows it faces Spain, or hopes to face Spain, has been strategizing and plotting specifically for them since they qualified. If everyone uses the Bayern Munich method of socking it in at the back...they may only make the quarter finals.

Coach: While most teams replace managers at the end of a tournament cycle, consistent trophy hoisting has kept Vicente Del Bosque firmly entrenched in Spain's hottest of hot seats. While his Real Madrid squads never bought into the Tiki-Taki passing strategy used to such tremendous effect in the last three major tournaments, he's employed it perfectly with the national side.

History: The years of "underachieving" Spain have finally vanished. The supposed "Quarter-Final Curse" has been busted, and the team's first gold star (a sign of having won the World Cup) adorned the crest after their 2010 triumph in South Africa. The first generation of stars who made that happen are nearing the twilight of their careers now, but they should have something left for one more big run.

Food: Tapas are easy, and since the whole Spanish style was built, refined and maintained at Barcelona in Catalonia it seems best to honor them with a dish for eating: Escalivada--roasted vegetables, the perfect accompaniment to all the other grilled things I'll be making in June.

Fool: The only real blemish on Spain's post-Franco era has been the hideous Property Bubble that prompted a EU bailout in 2012. But rather than foisting the blame on bankers or home buyers or anything else, we'll pick on King Juan Carlos I, because 'merica don't take kindly to kings!

Best Case: Spain is Spain. The World Cup is lifted. Host Brazil bows to them in the final. The earth continues spinning.

Worst Case: Holland holds La Roja, to a 90 minute stale mate (much as they did in the 2010 final), forcing a must win game against a defensively fierce Chile in the second, that ends in another unsatisfying draw. A final win over Australia is nice but goal differential from the more potent Dutch and Chilean attacks creates a stunningly short trip to Brazil for the holders as they exit in third place of their group.

My prediction: The Spanish system is every bit the world beater it has been for the past six years. Unfortunately, they don't have to beat the world, just Brazil. After the confederations cup last year, I fear that's a little too much to ask. Runners-Up

Added Bonus: Hey, here's someone I actuallly used to play during my old college radio days: Mala Rodriguez's "Tengo un Trato"

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