Whether or not you believe in clairvoyant "Pulpo Paul", the 2010 World Cup Final match featuring a strong Spanish Team and the respectable Holland team will no doubt be exciting tomorrow/Sunday night - 8:30pm Spain time, 2:30pm New York Time.
No other World Cup game has been as important as this one. This time it's for the World Cup Title, one which has eluded Spain for literally an eternity. And as with all previous World Cup games, Spain's passionate fans will be glued to their television sets in living rooms, bars, and big-screen TVs in plazas throughout the country.
Just today, as with previous late-round matchups, lines are long at supermarkets with carts full of liter bottles of beer, soft drinks, and snacks, all stocking-up for the biggest sporting event of Spain's history. LITERALLY! As the saying goes, "It doesn't get any better than this."
If Spain wins people will be spilling out of their homes and local bars, joining like-minded Spain-Soccer-Worshipers on the streets, horns will honk all night, flags will be waved from the highest heights, and media coverage will likely last a week at least.
See how people are watching the game or celebrating the win (or lamenting the loss) on BarcelonaMan's Barcelona WebCams and MadridMan's Spain and Madrid WebCams. It also appears that TeleCinco.es will be broadcasting the World Cup Final live online.
Spanish flags are EVERYWHERE; hanging from every third window or balcony, car antennas, bus mirrors, and even from power lines! For an American, this would be a (nearly) normal sight. But in Spain, a country deeply divided by politics, it's an oddity to see so many of them away from government buildings.
But national sports break down barriers and united people regardless of their beliefs. Of course, this only goes for those whom enjoy sports. Spain has a very strong anti-sport contingent as well. These people see this worldwide "diversion" as a waste of time, resources, and media, all siphoning desperately needed attention away from more important social, environmental, and political issues. I can understand and appreciate their argument and they carry weight.
The header goal by Catalán Carles Pujol last Wednesday, lifting Spain over Germany, brought my neighborhood to a euphoric level. Car horns were honking (for hours!), people in the street and adjacent windows shouting, and everyone enjoying a common experience. That's really something. Even I, watching the game at home, had moist eyes - and I don't really even enjoy soccer/football/fútbol all that much. It was an emotional moment. Shame they're so few and far between in that game.
Tomorrow night's game is big and I won't miss it for anything. It'll make history for either team, neither of which has reached the World Cup Final game. EVER!
People everywhere are talking about Spain's chances, their favorite players, their belief or disdain for "Pulpo Paul", and what a win will mean for Spain. Will it mean anything apart from a new trophy and Champion's Bragging Rights until the next World Cup competition in 4 years? Probably not, but that's sport for you; pure entertainment, hobby, and diversion. Plus, it gives us something happy to talk about instead of the world's problems. No one wants to face those.
But for this moment we're all together, enjoying a common goal, sharing a beer, biting each others' nails, and hugging the sweaty stranger next to us when David Villa, Carles Pujol, Andrés Iniesta, or (other) puts the ball in their opponent's net. If we win, great. If we lose, well, we can then go back to worrying about the world's troubles.