Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Spain Loses Its Footing in the New World

Ball Harambee By Bagga Wilks

Although not known as a principal colonizer in Africa, Spain won the World Cup convincingly in South Africa, 2010. The Spanish Empire was in fact more established in the New World and much of Latin America with the exception of Brazil came under the rubric of the Spanish crown. In the Confederation Cup, Spain ventured to Brazil as the new conquistadors of world football. But alas, the world champions were dethroned by Brazil who had the advantage of playing at home in front of a patriotic but troubled nation.

It was befitting that the final in the Confederation Cup would conclude with Spain vs Brazil. Everyone anticipated a photo-finish contest but Brazil simply outplayed the Spanish team, surprising many soccer pundits who pontificated that Spain 2010 and in the European Cup 2012 was not just the best team at this juncture but the best ever in the history of the game.

In tournaments like the World Cup and the Confederation Cup, the endurance of teams is severely tested as teams are playing back to back games. Some of the Spanish stars like Xavi and Iniesta are no longer young lions and the rigor of league play and national duties are beginning to take a toll on the performance of these aging lions.

Scolari’s squad did not allow Spain the space to play their passing game. From the genesis of the first half, Brazil pressured Spain and had the champions discombobulated from which they did not recover. Further adding to the Spanish disarray, Brazil scored in the opening minutes of the match. It was downhill for Spain for the remaining ninety minutes.

As the match progressed, Spain’s grueling semi-final with Italy left the champions bereft of energy and they failed to get into their established rhythm. What does this 3-0 victory over the World Champions mean for Brazil? Scolari has put together a team that combines “skill and steel” as one of the television commentators stated insightfully. The Confederation Cup is when boys become men. Neymar is on his way to Barcelona with ample confidence gained in the Confederation Cup. Gustavo and Paulinho are the men of steel in mid-field and Oscar, Neymar, Fred and Hulk provide the skill in the attacking third. Marcelo and Alves are splendid attacking full backs and David Luiz and Thiago Silva constitute a fortress with the veteran goalkeeper, Julius Caesar at the back.

Brazil hosts the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016. The demonstrators throughout the tournament have sent a clear message to the Brazilian government that life is more than football. If Brazil is to calm the waters in 2014 and 2016, the government will have to vigorously tackle the widespread corruption that involves businessmen and elected officials. The pressing issue of social justice must be immediately tackled. In the words of the late reggae superstar, Peter Tosh, there will not be peace in the streets unless the Brazilian government can demonstrate that they are committed to social justice.

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