To those who would have us believe that 'pretty football' and 'winning football' are mutually exclusive; who believe that the primary aim of the game is to keep a clean sheet; who are happy to have teams rake in millions from a captive market while telling us "we're in the results business"; who mistrust beauty; who would praise Chelsea; who are called 'Sam Allardyce'*; who would happily see the entire population of the world enslaved as the bitches of an alien race of eight-foot, 30-stone-of-pure-muscle, endless-diagonal-balls-to-the-head-of-the-big-fella-up-front super-bastards; who would inculcate us all with their particular brand of bitter, witless self-hatred given half a chance; who probably secretly fancy Margaret Thatcher...
...to those I say: MWAH-HAH-HAH-HAH-HAH-HAH-HAH!!!
To recklessly exaggerate for a moment, this has been as close to a perfect tournament as we're likely to see: positive and often spectacularly football, heart-abusing drama, a lack of cynicism (in terms of both style and discipline**) and an honest-to-god football team triumphing. All that was missing was a hilarious snatching of defeat from the jaws of victory by England and a heroic 1-1 draw by Ireland.
It's almost too good to be true. Spain's midfield yesterday comprised Senna, Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas and Silva, while Xabi Alonso came on as a substitute. How cool is that? (World-class analysis, there.) Something to consider: this is still a young team: the bulk of it will still be there in two years' time. I'm praying for a Spain-Argentina final in Johannesburg.
On which note, and without wishing to hastily jump to grand conclusions based on scant evidence, I nevertheless hastily conclude based on these 31 games that a loving God does indeed exist. Sure, He sets a mean test of faith, what with the last Euros, Mourinho, Abramovich, the Eduardo injury, Cyprus 5-2 Ireland, etc., et-bloody-c., but it's almost been worth it all for these last three weeks. I say almost because I'll only be fully convinced when I see Arsenal winning the Premier League again - and what the hell, the Champions League while we're at it. I mean, that's what He does, right - portents? And what else could this tournament, with its beautiful attacking football and the right team winning, possibly mean?....
No, no - now's not the time for such parochialism. Let's just wallow awhile in this, no less than the triumph of Good against Evil. Not that I take football too seriously or anything.
Photo by Hell's Donut House
*I've had a go at Allardyce before, and I will again. It may seem to you like I'm picking on him. You'd be right. There's a special circle of football hell reserved for him and his ilk.
**Wonderful stat: there were fewer red cards in the whole of Euro 2008 than in the Holland-Portugal game in the 2006 World Cup.