Spain blame hubris and Howard Webb

With Spain’s marketing world expecting a comfortable win over Switzerland, the first advert to pop up after Wednesday’s 1-0 defeat was David Villa surrounded by a pack of lovely ladies, flogging hair gel and still sporting that stupid mini-beard worn and subsequently ditched by Tony Almeida in the first series of 24.

After Villa’s stupid, squished grinning face had disappeared from the screens it was the rest of his bottling team-mates and Vicente Del Bosque to follow selling all manner of products from petrol to pencils.

With the Spanish government rumoured to be begging the IMF for handouts, public worker pay-cuts announced and a general strike on the way, the locals are in no mood to tolerate Selección simpletons trying to get them to part with what little money they have left, especially when the failing footballers can’t seal their side of the deal in Durban.

And sensing the national spirits dropping faster than Sergio Ramos’ trousers when the Pussycat Dolls are in town, AS are blasting from their front page that “We can still do it!” with the editorial wheeling out the traditional “we have 17, 8, 4, 3 finals left!” cliché.

"Spain didn’t come to South Africa to win the first game, but win the World Cup,” boasts Juanma Trueba in his match report, potentially revealing a tiny flaw in Vicente del Bosque’s plan.

His paper is careful to avoid any criticism of the Madridista Iker Casillas and his mad moment and hurls hate-muck at Silva (fair enough), Navas (harsh), Torres (very harsh) and Villa (maybe).

Following fine Spanish tradition, AS also puts some of the blame for the defeat on the referee for not giving a card for every single foul on their players. “Howard Webb was against Spain in all the important decisions,” grumbled Thursday’s edition.

Marca’s pet referee Rafa Guerrero also attacks Webb by claiming that Switzerland’s goal should have been ruled out with Gelson Fernandes apparently being in an offside position when the ball fell to him. There is, of course, no mention of Iker’s two red card offences in the run up to the goal.

Nor did that topic surface in the post-match interview between the glove-wearer and and his ladyfriend, Telecinco reporter Sara Carbonero, although Marca claims that “the journalist and player fulfilled their roles quite naturally as to be expected from two great professionals.”

Marca are on more of a post-defeat downer than AS, with the front page suggesting that we might be witnessing “the same old Spain” in World Cups and Santiago Segurola warning that “this match puts them on the edge of the abyss.”

Even worse than the disappointment of millions of minions watching around the country, reports Marca, was the pain felt by a bunch of Spanish suit-wearing executive “VIPs” over in Durban on a probable freebie.

“I’m sad, it’s a shame we lost,” said the poor-bunny sales boss of The Phone House before returning to his 15-star hotel (which he probably doesn’t have to pay for) to drink champagne out of Penelope Cruz’s nostrils, no doubt.

Over in Cataluyna, the local press have already started shuffling away from La Furia Roja as if they are a bar buddy that’s suddenly gone from amiable to mad after one shot too many.

“Believing themselves to be superior was their crime,” writes Josep Maria Casanovas in Sport. “They lacked fluidity of play, ideas, width, but above all speed.”
Josep Artells in Mundo Deportivo blames an attitude where the players thought they deserved the win and “an excess of confidence and possession, a double-edged sword.”

However, LLL feels that they have all got it wrong. The message from the Spanish camp throughout the warm-up campaign has been a modest one that they will not be flamenco-dancing to a final victory in July. Indeed, the one plus point from the defeat was raised by Gerard Pique who hopes that “this nonsense that we are favourites will be dropped now.”

On any other day a few of Spain’s chances may have gone in to give La Furia Roja a nice easy victory. But they didn’t, leaving the path out of Group H a little trickier. However, despite the five days of pain that will be coming Spain’s way from a press that has the most wobbly of upper lips, there's no real need for panic just yet.

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