Paraguay paradise as cuartos conquered

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In many ways Spain’s World Cup performances since the beginning of FIFA-time AD could be described as impotent. After all, la Roja hasn’t even experienced a good semi in the history of the competition, never mind reached a final.

This may explain why the reaction in the local media to the squeaky win over Paraguay has been nothing less than an explosion of relief and jubilation.

On Saturday night, Telecinco - the terrestrial broadcasters of Spain’s World Cup games - spent another boorish 90 minutes of shouting, ranting and making animal noises but manage to refrain from swearing on this occasion, after a slap on the wrists delivered after former Spain boss José Antonio Camacho shouted “F**k referee! Blow the whistle!” in the tense, dying seconds of the Portugal encounter.

“What a performance!” yelled J.J Santos, with his eyebrows in the familiar raised position - maintained unbroken since 1987 - as the station beamed pictures from villages all over Spain, dusting off giant paella pans and prepping a bull to torment to celebrate victory over Paraguay in the traditional manner.

Heck, even the channel’s pitchside-reporter-meets-glamour-girl Sara Carbonero sounded vaguely thrilled by the result, which is saying something considering she normally drones her touchline reports with the enthusiasm of someone being forced to read the Lisbon Treaty to a naked Sepp Blatter.

"I'm not starting till you put that thing away, Sepp"

The only televisual dissent from the notion that this wasn’t a brilliant performance from Spain was the reporter from rivals Canal Plus, who interjected “no kidding” when San Iker Casillas himself suggested that his side weren’t all that in the quarter-final clash.

In the printy press world, the semi-final bratwurst barnstormer against Germany means a joyful Marca have at least another week before having to come up with some excellent reasons detailing why Florentino Pérez was quite right to sell Wesley Sneijder last summer and replace him with Kaká - in both senses of the word.

“A whole life dreaming of a day like this!” screams Sunday's front cover over a picture of Iker Casillas on his knees.

“The curse is lifted,” squeal the inside pages recalling the four failures of the previous times Spain have reached los cuartos of the World Cup.

Not only have Spain won the chance to be spanked severely by Germany on Wednesday, it seems, but the country has had its atavistic - LLL didn’t know what it meant either - fatalism and fear of quarter-finals wiped out. That's the message from the paper’s editor Eduardo Inda – well, the first part anyway. 

As La Liga Loca suspected, the first-half disallowed “seen ‘em given” goal by Paraguay has been airbrushed from the game’s narrative by Marca with their pet former referee attacking the man-in-the-middle for the fifth match in a row.

“The performance of the ref was an authentic disaster in every way,” blustered Rafa Guerrero in calling for at least 19 more penalties for La Selección during the game.

And not for the first time, the paper calls for something that hints of match-fixing to these blog’s sensitive ears by appealing directly to “Angel María Villar in his double responsibility as president of the Spanish FA and head of referees for FIFA” to select a referee in the Germany clash who is up to the paper’s required standards - i.e. give a yellow card every time someone goes anywhere near Xavi. 

"Oh, you're in SO much trouble, ref"

AS main man Mad Tomás Roncero doesn't disappoint after the 1-0 win and calls for Spain’s “grandparents, fathers, mothers, children and grandchildren to open your windows and shout your joy to the whole world!”
Meanwhile the front cover of Sunday’s edition of the paper describes “blood, sweat and victory!” – an apt description considering the physical battering Pique, Puyol and Ramos have been taking for the team over the World Cup campaign.

Barcelona-based Sport have been fairly cool over the World Cup until now, but – perhaps realising that their readers will storm the paper's offices if there's another "Cesc is coming!" story – stuck Super Culé David Villa on Sunday's front cover to celebrate his fifth goal of the tournament.

However, Josep Maria Casanovas is first out of the blocks to sound a warning ahead of Wednesday’s clash: “Clearly Spain have got to improve against Germany if they want to go face-to-face with Holland or Uruguay.”

The paper’s Catalan cousins Mundo Deportivo are pleased as punch with the result, Santi Nolla calling the Spain side “the best in the history of Spanish football.”

“They have a plan. They know what it is to play, suffer but win,” declares the columnist before doing his duty for Barcelona by noting that Leo Messi won’t be taking part in the final four because “Maradona was there”.

All in all, the Spanish media are very happy bunnies indeed as they bask in the loveliness of banishing the semi-final curse. However, over the next few days their mood is likely to match that of the football fan in the street, which is already looking at the Germany clash with an understandable sense of dread and fear.

After all, La Furia Roja have come too far to fail now.

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