Well, that’s that, then. After we all convinced ourselves that the opening group game no longer mattered (why? because!), Spain proves that it was, in fact, a pretty good gauge of the two sides’ relative quality. Arshavin—Arsh-who? Maybe the poor lad started reading this blog, that blog and the other blog, all of which got into a tizzy over his two-game wonder. Now it’s time for him to call one of those shady big-wheel PR firms that specialize in rehabilitating the images of infamous political regimes and stars gone wrong.
By the powers vested in me, I give this game 5/10. Neither side could get to grips with the thing in the first half, which had an entertainingly discombobulated schoolyard air. As soon as Spain put together some half-decent (and no more) football, they had Russia by the throat; Russia seems to have lost the old Guus nous over the last few days, because they had not a fucking clue what to do with themselves. After the first goal—and, all due respect to Xavi, the defense was marking about as well as my futsal team does—Russia tried to play like Hiddink’s Australia, and take a pound of flesh if nothing else. Dispiriting—and, good for Spain, la Furia responded by coming alive, pinging it around with some semblance of verve and constructing a pair of neat little goals.
Solid for Spain. Awful for Russia. And Germany must be feeling pretty swell about Sunday.