Monday, June 19, 2006

Spain 3 Tunisia 1

A little bit of the old. A little bit of the new. Spain hasn't wet itself yet, but you know they're due.

Right? Right? Right?

Raul may be coming off a knee injury and dealing with losing his starting spot on Spain's front line, but the grizzled vet came off the bench and to the rescue here, scoring the long overdue equalizer in the 71st minute as Spain avoided the indignity of seeing its bubble burst sooner than usual and eventually sailing away from a pesky Tunisian side that gamely held onto a lead it established in the seventh minute.

Meanwhile, Spain's prized youngsters, Fernando Torres and Cesc Fabregas, combined on a second only four minutes later. Torres then added a third near the end on penalty kick.

I'm stopping short of falling for the old habit of gaining faith in the Spaniards just yet, but admittedly, the youngsters (David Villa is another) have me thinking maybe - just maybe - this is Spain's time. Perhaps Spain's emerging generation is too young to be burdened by, or even give a second thought to, Spain's albatross of a reputation for inevitably disappointing again and again. Youthful naivete can sometimes be a valuable asset.

Not to mention that the youngsters are just plain good.

Torres was being compared during the game to Marco Van Basten, and while I would stop short of such a heady comparison just yet, perhaps it isn't that far off the mark. (Of course, Van Basten would have never gone with the mohawk/psuedo-mullet look, which is a point in the Dutchman's favor.) Fabregas, meanwhile, at only 19, hasn't found a spot in the starting lineup just yet, but that may change soon enough if he continues to show the vision he did in springing Torres for his first. (Fabregas also has some pseudo-mullet issues; what is it with these guys?) Villa was quiet today after bagging a pair of goals against Ukraine, but may just be the most dangerous of the three. Like I said, these guys are extremely young, extremely talented, and possibly oblivious (at least just enough) to not allow Spain's exploding expectations bother them.

Raul, on the other hand, is possibly playing in his last World Cup and would like nothing more than to put an exclamation point on an international career that has never quite lived up to his accompliushments with Real Madrid. And maybe the 'kids' can help him to it.

Or maybe not. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if Spain routs Saudi Arabia to win the group and raise excitement to unheard of levels, which would possibly put them on a collision course with ultra-disappointing and much-maligned France in the second round.

Of course, France would probably win this game. Or more to the point, Spain would lose it.

That just makes so much sense, no?

That would be so Spain.

Meanwhile, some props must be given to Tunisia, which played an admirable game but just couldn't hold off the Spanish armada any longer than it did. Yet another close, but ultimately disappointing, call for an African nation. We've seen many.


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