Spain on brink of giant football fiesta

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By FourFourTwo's guest columnist, Tim Stannard of La Liga Loca 

In an event that stunned string-theory scientists and had soothsayers gloomily picking through entrails with warnings of an imminent End of Days, Spain went through to the final of a major competition with very little fuss or fannying about.

Such was the perkiness of their semi-final performance, described by Barcelona barmy paper Sport as 'historical' on Friday's front page, that La Furia Roja must now be considered as sizzling hot footballing favourites against the five time Eurocopa finalists, Germany.

That was certainly the optimistic opinion in the dingy dive bar La Liga Loca was lured from its penthouse palace to watch the game in - the kind of establishment where the wearing of flip flops turns out to be a poor choice when using the typhoid infested bathroom. 

Spain fan: chuffed, clearly

"Buy us a round!" went the cry of the pumped up punters when the referee blew time on Spain's comfortable victory over Guus Hiddink's routed Red Army. With the answer from the tight-fisted owner being a curt "no" the party moved out into the streets - joining the other 40 odd million happy Spanish clappers in an all night fiesta of fountain splashing and caña caning.

Even a hungover Catalunya is feeling the love on Friday with Sport's Josep Maria Casanovas declaring that the Spanish team "played like was an authentic recital."

His hyped up colleague, Joan Maria Battle gushes that "the second half deserves to go down in history of this great sport." Especially because of the influence of the Barcelona players and Cesc Fabregas in the clash.

The cameo from the Arsenal player made Bernd Schuster's moustache twitch in delight with the Real Madrid coach writing in Marca that "we saw the Cesc Fabregas that leads Arsenal, the player capable of carrying a side on his back and taking it to victory."

The German manager also had a warning for Barcelona that Andrei Arshavin may not be as prime a purchase that the Catalan club currently thinks he is.

"Never sign a player because of a solid performance in a tournament," warned Schuster who kept his cards close to his chest on predicting a winner on Sunday night.

Another musing manager sharing his thoughts on the game was ex-Espanyol coach Ernesto Valverde. The game saw "a spectacular half, following a reasonable one," wrote the former perico in El Pais.

Whilst Marca's editorial warns that "we still haven't won anything, but clearly we are closer each time to doing it," AS have all guns blazing in their assessment of the game.

The paper sent Tomás Roncero to the footballing front-line in Austria where he continued his long running genius rant on the best things to be found in Spain.

"Ham, beaches, ONCE tickets, flamenco, manchego cheese, Rosa from Operación Triunfo..." As far as La Liga Loca is aware, the great man is still gibbering away to himself somewhere in Vienna.

Whilst the AS man enjoyed the football festival on the field one person who missed the best of the action was Nuria Bermúdez - or Mrs Dani Güiza as she is known to La Liga Loca.

"The most important goal of his life and there's me looking at my mobile," sighed Nuria in her column in Marca on her blown big moment.

She was not alone in being distracted from the action as broadcasting TV channel, Cuatro spent much of the 90 minutes cutting away to show flag waving spectators in Madrid's Plaza de Colon - at the Cuatro stage, of course - or by spying on Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia watching from the stands, who had the uncanny knack of knowing every time the cameras were on them, helping with those spontaneous arm squeezing moments of affection.

"For the third goal, they hugged like they were in Love Story," sighed AS' Juanma Trueba in his match report.

Group hug!

Fighting to join a bored-to-tears looking Michel Platini in the big wig's box for Sunday's final will be every suit and stuffed shirt in Spain - and by jimminy there are an awful lot of them.

After all, no one wants to miss out on what could be a party to rival anything Ronaldinho and Robinho could muster in their wildest dreams.