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.

Posted on June 23, 2013, in games and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. I love Tahiti and I love what the players and VDB have said about them. If there is a fair play award, they deserve it.

  2. Tahiti’s gestures were so sweet and respectful. It actually hurt to watch them get thrashed that badly during the match. I especially felt for their keeper, who wasn’t that bad but got no help from his defense. In fact, I was glad that he blocked Torres’ penalty shot since he was able to salvage his pride, at least momentarily.

  3. Thanks so much for this post! I missed this game and had no idea that all this happened. Most people will only see the score and never know the heart behind it all.

  4. Way to go, Tahiti! They’ve just gained montones of amigos allover the globe :)

  5. Double thumbs-up for this post! There can never be too much Azpilicueta, he’s just lovely, isn’t he. But I need more shirtless Fernando! There were dozens of cameras, so where are all the pictures?! Locked up in a vault somewhere to prevent unwanted pregnancies?

  6. sernando! :)

    i adored tahiti going into this tournament — i always root for the underdog — but everything you wrote here just made me adore them even more. bless! they earned the right to be there fair and square and i love that they gave it their all, they didn’t park the bus, they actually tried to score and played offensively. and spain, for their part, treated them as equals and professionals and didn’t humour or go easy on them — i have read a lot of negative comments about that, but i think it was pure sportsmanship and class on their part to do that. i almost wish tahiti had scored just one goal. ;-)

  7. this has got to be by far my favorite ICYMI entry! really appreciate the recap look at how the teams conducted themselves off the field. such exemplary examples of sportsmanship and mutual respect! so wonderful to see!

  8. Soo bummed I missed this game. Thx Una for the highlights….

    One of my most fav parts is also the pre-game tunnel line up and anthem. Haha

  9. Emma Tiede (@Justicerocks11)

    I love Tahiti and what the did for the Spanish players. Commenters just want to stir up trouble during the 2012 Euro’s mine commenters kept trying to make up stories about the Barca players and Real Madrid players hating each other. There might have been a little hostility but not to the extent the commenters were making it out to be, the media does it too, it’s all for ratings and money.

    The Spanish players were so nice in posing for pictures and giving their shirts away. Plus Torres is just adorable, I’m beginning to like him more and more.

  10. Hi! I’m a long-time lurker, but first-time commenter. As a supporter of Spain NT (and Real Madrid) since 2005, I’m in LOVE with this blog. :) My dad and I were skipping back and forth between the game and a talk show on another channel so I missed a lot of the fun stuff. Thank you for making the time to sum it up in one post.

    I have a ridiculous commentator story to match your Mediaset one. I believe it was during the Spain-Uruguay game, Del Bosque made a switch, Xavi out, Javi Martinez in. Well, what the commentator on my local sports channel had to say about it is that the Bayer Leverkusen player Javi Martinez is taking the place of Xabi Alonso, a great player who started his career in Athletic de Bilbao and currently plays for Barcelona.

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