Vicente del Bosque

It’s over, and very fine it was, not to say awe-inspiring. I doubt whether Vicente del Bosque quite felt like like Sir Alex Ferguson after Manchester United annihilated Arsenal 8-2 the start of last season, “You don’t want to score any more,” but neither he or any of us can have guessed how one-sided the final would be. So formidable against Germany, Italy crumpled in the face of—what?

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It’s over, and very fine it was, not to say awe-inspiring. I doubt whether Vicente del Bosque quite felt like like Sir Alex Ferguson after Manchester United annihilated Arsenal 8-2 the start of last season, “You don’t want to score any more,” but neither he or any of us can have guessed how one-sided the final would be. So formidable against Germany, Italy crumpled in the face of—what?

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Everything said and done around the World Cup in the last month has seemed right and wrong, spot on and deluded—and often simultaneously. First it was the “African Cup.” The dream was ephemeral, save perhaps for Ghana. Then there was talk about a “new Europe”: forget aging Italy, England, and France, here came the vibrant sons of a united Germany. (Though, it must be said, less and less of them are actually German). Almost as soon as it started, however, it became the “Latin American Cup.” European tactical conservatism seemed doomed against the Latin love for the game.

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How will Spain manage to crack Paraguay? They have struggled against teams that have packed players into the final third and dared them to elegantly kick the ball about the midfield, with Spain looking so refined and yet so lacking in goals. Paraguay are, of course, the supreme example of this genre in the tournament. (I’m very moved by Sasha’s paeans to their lyrical dullness.) Spain should be able to pick that lock. But the lameness of Fernando Torres has been a major liability. Without him running rampant, teams have horded resources and used them to swarm Xavi.

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