We are going to Cape Town! Spain beat Chile 2-1 to finish top of the group in the end, and we are off to play Portugal in the round of sixteen next Tuesday! Goran is very excited, “can we visit the bat cave”? “What are you talking about Goran, Batman doesn’t live there!” “The Green Lantern then?” “No, he’s not there either”. “Then why do they call it Cape Town?” I let him down gently, it’s because it’s at the cape of Africa I think, but don’t worry, it’s a beautiful city and there are lots of things to do there. We decide to leave straight away and we ask the nice people at the Soccer-Spain ticket office to find us tickets and make the travel arrangements.
Anyway, what a nerve racking game! Chile were supposed to be the strongest team we have to play, and they are fast. Maybe they are more used to the altitude or something, but we keep giving the ball away (could be as well that our players forget they are in blue and keep giving the ball to the red shirts – we are certainly confused at times!). They are hard as well, but luckily for us the referee is a Mexican who has the nickname “Draculín”, and he starts to dish out the yellow cards, although he lets Estrada off a second yellow or even a red when he steps on Iniesta’s foot.
But we take the lead unexpectedly, Fernando Torres who has already missed a couple of chances chases a long ball, and the Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo (who plays for Real Sociedad in Spain) comes out of his area to clear. But it goes only as far as David Villa, who from a distance which was later measured at 36 metres knocks the ball back and in to the net! His third in two games, and his 41st for “la selección”, only three now behind Raúl, and already the best ever goalscorer for us in the World Cup!
Still Chile are looking dangerous, and only a great tackle from Piqué deflects a shot from Beausejour past the post. But two minutes later Spain are back on the attack, Torres, Iniesta, Villa and Iniesta again and gol, gol, gol, gol, gol! Torres is on the ground and Draculín shows the second yellow card to Estrada which he should have shown ten minutes ago, but this one was probably not right as it looks like the players ran in to each other. Poetic justice maybe, and we are two up against ten men!
But rather than a lively team talk it seems that Del Bosque has given them all hot chocolate at half time, and we come out half asleep. Chile coach Bielsa (wasn’t he at Espanyol once?) makes two changes, and one of them Millar (sounds Scottish?) scores within two minutes of the kick-off. Another bit of bad luck involving Piqué, the chico seems to be fated in this World Cup, and the ball bounces off his leg over Casillas in to the net. And Xabi Alonso is injured as well after another hard tackle just before half time, what a difference a couple of minutes makes!
Del Bosque reacts bringing on Cesc for Torres, not a bad move to control the middle of the field, but still there is a chance Chile could score again. The good news is that Switzerland are only drawing against Honduras, so right now we could go through even with a draw, and Chile are also through. The clock is going ever so slowly, but for the last ten minutes both teams decide to call a truce. It isn’t pretty and the crowd don’t like it, but hey, what would you do in the circumstances? Spain pass the ball around in their own half and nobody from Chile leaves theirs, still a danger that Switzerland could score, but better that than to lose a silly goal and go out. Then it’s all over, and we are top of the group, which means we miss Brazil but get Cristiano Ronaldo and his lot. More on that tomorrow though, Cape Town here we come!