Just like their anthem, we've no words to describe this Spanish side
VIEW FROM THE COUCH:LIFE’S mysteries: could it really have been 24 days since we were treated to the delights of the Euro 2012 opening ceremony, the highlight when the fella hammering out a bit of Chopin on his glitter-covered piano then attempted some keepy-uppies, merely proving he was as handy with his feet as, say, Carlton Palmer in his pomp?
And could it really have been 24 days since it was determined that Spain are boring? May our lives be that intoxicatingly monotonous from this day forth.
“Has their brilliance become boring”, Guy Mowbray asked Mark Lawrenson early in the first half. “A little bit, I think they’ve missed the idea of football, which is to score lots of goals and entertain – as well as win,” he said.
And on they went to entertainingly triumph 4-0 and collect their third successive monster huge title. You’d have to assume, that’s the idea of football.
“Records tumbling all around us,” said Guy as the fourth went in, even Lawro sounding marginally exhilarated.
But which one of us didn’t forecast that scoreline? Apart from those who confidently said Italy would prevail 2-1? Earlier. Team news time. Any surprises in the line-ups? Not really.
RTÉ: Bill O’Herlihy – John Giles, Liam Brady, Eamon Dunphy – George Hamilton – Ray Houghton.
ITV: Adrian Chiles – Roy Keane, Roberto Martinez, Gareth Southgate – Clive Tyldesley – Andy Townsend.
BBC: Gary Lineker – Alan Hansen, Gianluca Vialli, Alan Shearer – Guy Mowbray – Mark Lawrenson.
Seven former Irish internationals out of 13 who once kicked a ball for loot, a 54-ish per cent success rate for this fair isle. We’d have taken that amount of possession in our group games.
The BBC panel were suited and booted, if a little funereally so, the ITV crew jacketless, perhaps not putting a lot of thought in to their costumes, working on the assumption that most of Britain would be watching the ad-less Beeb for the occasion that was in it.
“I’ve really enjoyed it, the atmosphere around Warsaw and most people’s company on the trip,” said Keane, throwing a glance in Southgate’s direction after he had revealed that his most memorable moment of the tournament was witnessing Keane and Patrick Vieira share an ice cream on the square the night before. Never, ever rule out the possibility of peace and reconciliation, anything is possible.
Over on the BBC, Vialli wasn’t sharing his ice cream with anyone, he was blowing his punditry colleagues out of the water, the moment he likened Cesare Prandelli to Lazio libero Galileo. “He is a visionary” – his finest hour.
“We might not be the best at producing politicians,” he smiled, “but we can produce great players and managers.” Teams in the tunnel, the mascots in or about the same height as the Spanish midfield. All six of them. And then that epic Gianluigi Buffon cameo, when he sings his anthem with such a frenzy you fear he’s going to spontaneously combust.
And off we went and it was all just a little bit marvellous. Iniesta, Fabregas, Silva, 1-0. Xavi, Alba, 2-0. “That’s the reason Barcelona have paid €14 million for him,” cried Mowbray of the Alba fella. “Flippin’ heck! Cheap! Two and a half Andy Carrolls,” said Lawro.
“It was quite painful for me to watch,” Vialli grimaced at half-time, “but Spain are just simply a very awesome team, and we’ve just got to admit that.” Hansen? He was gasping. “I’ve never seen the like of that in my life, it was that good.” Brady? “Mindblowing.” Giles? “Very good, Bill.” Second half, more of the same. Mowbray waxed lyrical about the strength of the Spanish squad. “Llorente, Juan Mata . . . they’ve not kicked a ball in the championships.” “A bit like Ireland,” said Lawro. Oi.
Just the four in the end, a masterly masterclass. “Now then gentleman, put up your hands, how many of you were bored?” said Bill. Divil a hand in sight.
Dunphy lavished the Spanish with praise, and made special mention of the unity of the squad, despite the players coming from different political and cultural backgrounds.
“That rift has been healed by this generation of players. Notably when the national anthem was being played, no Spanish player sang it and I think that was perhaps a recognition that ‘we’ll say nothing, we won’t subscribe to that and we’ll keep quiet’. It means for the purposes of football they have left their culture and their politics in the dressingroom and gone out and played for their nation.”
There but for the grace of God go . . . the Spanish anthem is wordless.
And there are no words for Spain’s football team either. Majestic.
As were those 24 days.