By JAMES CLARK
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Cesc Takes Spain To A Semi ...
By JAMES CLARK
Spain coach Luis Aragones is a doddering old fool who once criticized Thierry Henry based on his race; Italy manager Roberto Donadoni is an ex-MetroStar who lent his considerable cachet to America's relaunch of professional soccer in 1996. On Sunday, their paths crossed in a Euro 2008 quarterfinal that demanded to be placed up in lights: FIFA World Cup 2006 winners Italy vs. a Spanish side that sports some of the best footballers in the world: Fernando Torres, Iker Casillas, David Villa and Carles Puyol. All that considered, the Azzurri had to be favored. They'd done it before. In the (extreme) modern era, they were World Cup (1994) and Euro (2000) finalists. Spain were Euro 1984 runners-up to Michel Platini's France. Advantage to the Peninsula (and not !! the Iberian one).
But this time, the verve and attacking talent of Espana carried the day. In a 120-minute slugfest, Spain (so I'm told; we were at Fort Dix in central New Jersey with the South Jersey Barons on youth-tournament duty all day. Many thanks to Andy Stubbs, Neil Holloway and the lovely Victoria Clark for keeping me informed throughout the afternoon!) had 19 shots on goal to Italia's 8. In the end, that kind of verve should see off the negativity of the predictable catenaccio. And Cesc Fabregas hit the winning penalty. Fair play to the Spanish youngster. As they say, may (we) live in interesting times.