Maria Holland

Como España, No Hay Ninguna

In Uncategorized on July 12, 2010 at 8:37 am

I took a short nap but was up at 1:30 (a.m.) to go to the game with Carlos.  We got there nice and early to take our seats at the front tables, one reserved for the Dutch and their groupies, and one for the two Spaniards and their supporters.  The trash talking started early (below, Carlos and Jelle show with their hands how many goals they think their teams will make). 

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I had very carefully chosen a white outfit tonight, to avoid any semblance of partiality between my dear Dutch and Spanish friends. 

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But there were more Dutch than Spanish (and I’m not-so-secretly completely infatuated with Iker Casillas, the Spanish goalkeeper) so I ended up more cheering for Spain.  Also, Carlos made cute Spanish flags with a picture of Paul the Octopus wearing a crown, which was a major plus.  (But the Dutch had a really cool cheer for one of their players, Elia, that made me wish I was on their side sometimes.)

It was an interesting game, but also a dirty one; especially worth a mention was the roundhouse kick to the chest of Spain’s Alonso.  I have absolutely no grasp of penalties, and am never sure if something’s okay or if the ref just didn’t see it.  Like that one time it looked like Sneijder was making out with a Spanish player?  Nothing.  But when any player kicks a ball at the same time as another player, one of them is bound to get called on it. 

There were apparently a record number of yellow cards for a World Cup final.  I didn’t know that at the time, but it was pretty ridiculous.  It was looking like the game was going to consist of one or two guys running around the field by the end!

There more yellow cards than shots – by far – and thus halftime found us still at 0-0 (so Diederik and Carlos were still friends).

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The second half was more of the same, sending us into a half hour of overtime.  The Dutch remained confident that there would be no penalty kicks, because they were going to score shortly. 

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But either way, I had already won.  I was tied for third place in the World Cup pool heading in to the final, and since neither Jimmy nor I had called the game as a draw at the end of regulation time, we finished in a tie.  This left me with half of the third place pot – 20 kuai!  Exactly what I paid to get in!  I didn’t make any money, but since this is ME we’re talking about, breaking even is some kind of miracle.  I beat Carlos, which was both my goal going in and basically the highlight of my life. 

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I don’t think Carlos was too worried about the 20 kuai he’d lost, though.  He watched in agonizing suspense as the overtime passed.  They switched out some players, sending in Cesq and Torres and Jesus – smart move, getting God on their side! 

And then finally, 15 minutes into overtime, Iniesta scored.

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Carlos and Carolina were kind of happy.  And when they won the 2010 World Cup, Spain’s first Mundial, they were slightly more excited.  (Honestly, there were only about 30 people in the bar at that point, but I have never heard anything as loud as that Spanish goal.) 

Everyone was hugging everyone (or offering consoling shoulder pats), mostly joyous but one definitely bittersweet.  Jimmy had an early flight and headed to the airport directly from del Mar.  Bye, Jimmy – see you in the US sometime maybe.  Or Sweden.  Or China?

We went out into the street by DaxueCheng, where a beautiful sunrise was waiting for us (as it was, by the way, almost 5 a.m.).  It was streaked with red, which Carolina interpreted as Spanish colors – although honestly, if the game had gone the other way it still could have been congratulatory for the winners.

There were still some barbecue vendors, so we commandeered one guy’s coals and started roasting marshmallows for s’mores.  It was the perfect snack, just what the occasion called for!

But after such a high comes a crash.  Maybe football fans are used to this, the four year cycle of elation and depression, but it’s new to me.  I walked into this whole thing blindly, only to realize a month later that I’ve watched 16 football games, half of those in the wee hours of the morning.  And what now?  We talked of returning to normal sleep schedules, but also discussed having 2:30 a.m. parties every now and then.  I feel like I should find a club to support but my heart’s not in it.  I liked the Spanish and Dutch national teams; Real Madrid, Ajax, and even Barca don’t have that allure.  Yet.  I guess we’ll see, won’t we?

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