IT wasn’t supposed to happen. Spain’s all conquering national football team, La Roja, crashed out of the World Cup in embarrassing style.
The defending World and European Champions, with stars such as Xavi, Iniesta, Sergio Ramos and goalkeeper and captain Iker Casillas, were humiliated by the Dutch team 5-1 (and my sources in Amsterdam tell me that the celebrations there went on for days) and well beaten by Chile 2-0.
Casillas, who before this World Cup was practically a Spanish saint, cut a particularly forlorn figure as he picked the ball out of the back of the net time after time.
The Spanish defeats were as unexpected as they were heavy. Spain went into Brazil 2014 on a massive wave of expectation, both from home and abroad, where there was talk of them being able to successfully defend their title.
At the very least Spain were expected to make the final, with purists anticipating a mouth watering clash with hosts Brazil.
As always with football in Spain, you couldn’t escape the game in advance, with the stars of the national team appearing on seemingly every second television advertisement, billboard or branded on every conceivable product in your local supermarket.
On the nights of the matches themselves every bar and restaurant was packed with noisy supporters, many in national team shirts and with their faces painted.
But as the events unfolded and the goals flew in against Spain, the fans looked on in disbelief, many melting away into the night as defeat became inevitable.
I drove home on the night of the defeat that saw Spain’s World Cup come to the end and the streets were uncannily quiet. Where four years before, fans had thronged the streets, honking their horns as they drove around in celebration, now the main roads were empty. La Roja and Spain’s dreams had been shattered.
Begging for it
I had a ‘never judge a book by its cover moment’ last week. I was doing the usual single-male last minute shop at one of those expensive supermarkets that opens every day of the year and ended up in the queue behind a very prim looking Madrid woman.
She had a basket-full of what looked like a week’s shopping, and being the impatient soul that I am, I made my unhappiness felt by tutting and sighing loudly.
So you can imagine how much of a tosser I felt when she left the shop and gave most of her shopping bag to the amazed young Spanish girl who was begging on a blanket outside.