La Furia Roja: Losing Faith Rapidly

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Before the World Cup began La Liga Loca would have put everything it owns on Spain winning the trophy. Admittedly, that isn’t a great deal, with the blog’s entire worldly possessions consisting of a bunch of Buffy box sets and an orange. Which it has just eaten. 

But now LLL is not so sure. While it still has faith in the fancy footballing abilities of La Furia Roja, the blog is very worried indeed that the general sense of fatalism and blind panic that is sweeping the country could be heading to South Africa to infect Del Bosque’s boys.

If Spain are to win the World Cup, then the country needs an awful lot more spine. And balls. Spine and balls thrown into a blender and then chugged back with a pint of warm sangria.

La Selección is only facing a group game which it should be able to deal with comfortably enough before potentially taking on Portugal then Holland – and already its supporters and press are “filling their trousers” as the locals like to say. But in a considerably more vulgar fashion.

“Today, Spain face one of the most important games in its history,” frets Marca’s editorial on Friday in its description of a match that isn’t even in the knockout stages of a tournament, never mind a final. And an encounter that doesn’t even have to be won if the group’s other game swings in Spain’s direction.

It’s a lip-quivering line following on from the paper’s front cover, which has a montage of happy people with painted faces and the huge words “You Cannot Fail Us!” blasting out.

“The moment has come to bring a fist to the table and proclaim ‘I am here’,” yells the paper’s director, Eduardo Inda, carrying on the local tradition of making yourself known simply by being noisier than everyone else. 

It would be a fine Churchillian stance from Inda if it weren't countered by his declaration on a video blog on the paper’s website threatening that, should Spain be knocked out, “Del Bosque should be sacked and a lot of our internationals can say good-bye to the national side” - a knee-jerk Real Madrid of a reaction if ever there was one.

It sums up a week which began with pomp and circumstance after the win against Honduras and become more lily-livered as the days have gone by, with many trying to get their retaliation in very early indeed should everything go Pete Tong on Friday night.

One of those has been Luis Aragónes, who has being punditing for foreign types and hasn’t been happy from day one of the World Cup – claiming that he could see the Switzerland defeat coming from a mile off and wasn’t much happier after the Honduras result, either.

“We're not on the right path,” grumbled the Euro 2008 winner, before muttering something about Thierry Henry.

Aragónes is till held in great affection by his former charges and Xavi responded to the criticism by replying that “No one has anything bad to say about Luis. He is saying what he sees in his own way, but we know him and know that there isn't any malice intended.”

Del Bosque has refused to rise to the bait - infuriating the polemic-hunting Spanish press in the process - and carried on in his usual calm, serene and relaxed manner.

“I am calm, serene and relaxed,” beamed the boss. “I only talk about La Selección and everyone is responsible for their own words.”

What Spain really needs on Friday is a thumping, whumping win over Chile to silence the doubters and give the drum-bashers a new lease of life. And that’s because the World Cup hasn’t even begun to get difficult for Del Bosque’s boys – should they get out of their group.

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