ICYMI – Spain vs. Tahiti
Well, I think Tahiti has become my favorite rival out of all those whom Spain has played. The reason is not because Spain managed to score 10 goals, but rather for what happened before the game and after the game. Plus, the Tahitians got many of our boys to remove their shirts, so how could we not love them?
There’s not much to be said about the game, because the score (10-0) pretty much sums it up. Spain took 27 shots to Tahiti’s one, and this was their third best ever goalscoring effort in history, after the 13-0 against Bulgaria in 1933 and the famous 12-1 against Malta in 1983 (maybe they can only do it in years ending in three?). Sergio Ramos was the only player from the Uruguay game who started the game, with Vicente del Bosque changing the rest of the players up. The goalscoring was a 4-3-2-1 effort, with Fernando Torres scoring four, David Villa contributing three, David Silva chipping in two and PF Juan Mata putting in one. This brought Villa’s total to 56 (first all time) and was his first goal since October 2011, and Torres’ total to 35 (third all time, after Villa and Raúl’s 44).
However, if you can believe it, the parts before and after the game were even better than the game itself, in my opinion.
Tahiti proved itself to be a fantastic opponent, as it had prepared a surprise for their rivals. The players walked out onto the field wearing necklaces made of shells and each carrying a little banner. As they filed towards Spain to shake hands as is the custom, they took the necklaces off and put them on our players, and also handed over the banners.
Meanwhile, the coaching staff and substitutes walked over to La Roja’s bench to shake hands and present necklaces and mini banners to our coaches and substitutes. What a lovely gesture, and such heartwarming sportsmanship! They completely won me over.
Jesús and Xavi spent a moment examining the presents.
And here we can see how the items were laid out in Tahit’s locker room before the game, and the necklaces being worn by the Tahitian players before they were given to Spain.
There were also heartwarming scenes after the game. David Villa spent some time consoling Tahiti’s goalkeeper Mickaël Roche, who became a fan favorite in this game despite conceding 10 goals.
Pepe Reina also approached Roche to console him, and the two ended up exchanging jerseys.
The aforementioned shirt removal then commenced…
The Tahitian players also lined up to shake hands with our boys as they filed off the field. Another sporting gesture.
This photo was chosen for the high number of shirtless players in it. One question though: why have Steevy Chong Hue and Lorenzo Tehau joined Spain?
Here’s the pasillo moment, plus the goalkeepers.
Once the players had showered and change, there was time for more photo opportunities.
Following the game, Fernando Torres said, “I’m a fan of Tahiti now,” while David Villa praised Tahiti, saying, “we want to thank them for their affection and professionalism despite the result, they played fair, they didn’t give any hard tackles, they just wanted to play football during the entire game.” And I just have to say, the Mediaset commentators are so annoying: they kept disparaging and belittling the Tahitian players, talking about how they were facing the greatness that is Spain, how all of them were madly going after the shirts of the Spanish players (I want your shirt Torres, I want your shirt Iniesta) and calling Tahiti “a group of tourists visiting the Maracanã for the first time” simply because they were taking photos and admiring the stadium before the game. Let me remind them that Álvaro Arbeloa, Juan Mata, Iker Casillas and other players had done the exact same thing when they had entered the stadium to train the previous day. Go Tahiti. Mediaset also invented a story about how Villa and Mata had fallen out during the game, using images where Villa appeared to ignore Mata’s high five because apparently Mata had passed to Torres instead of Villa. The next day, when their cameras caught Villa and Mata joking around in the training session, they were all like, oh they made up!
There was also this heartwarming story featuring Tahitian player Efraín Araneda. Efraín is Tahiti’s player number 24 for the tournament, as an injury prevented him from being one of the 23, and so he’s in Brazil to cheer on his teammates. He was interviewed by Marca several days ago, and explained his history with one of the La Roja players, Fernando Torres. Efraín works in Tahiti as a tour guide, and several years ago he welcomed Fernando to Papeete, receiving him at the airport, presenting him with a lei and taking him to his hotel, as well as taking him around. He told Marca, “what I would most like on Thursday is for Fernando to exchange shirts with me after the game. It would be a dream come true for him to remember me and to give me his shirt. I hope Fernando reads this.”
Efraín’s dream did come true after the game! He said, “when the game ended, we all went rushing to Spain’s locker room to ask for shirts, but a FIFA official threw us out” [I hate FIFA!]. Luckily, I had already spoken with Vicente del Bosque in Spanish and he let me enter. I saw Fernando and he gave me his shirt. He told me that he wanted to return to Polynesia and I gave him my contact information.” Fernando, meanwhile, received Efraín’s number 24 shirt. Efraín posted the above photo on his Facebook with the caption, “with my friend Fernando Torres, so happy.” He also got to meet many of the other players, as we can see. Fernando later told Cuatro that Efraín had been his tour guide in Tahiti, and it was great to see him now playing for the Tahitian national team, or rather supporting his teammates because he can’t play, concluding “things that happen in football.”
Some more non-game moments from Thursday. I always love the moments prior to the game in the tunnel…
… and during the national anthems.
A little Azpi appreciation. Look at those lips! (Bonus here.)
To end, photos shared by Álvaro Arbeloa and Sergio Ramos after the game, with their buddies David Silva and Fernando Torres, respectively.