The Run of Play is a blog about
the wonder and terror of soccer.

We left the window open during a match in October 2007 and a strange wind blew into the room.

Now we walk the forgotten byways of football with a lonely tread, searching for the beautiful, the bewildering, the haunting, and the absurd.

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Spain 2 – 0 England: 10 Things I Liked About the Match

1.) Learning that David Beckham is actually the fourth player to win a cap for England while playing for AC Milan. Anyone care to name the other three?

2.) The ovation for Xavi when he was taken off after setting up Llorente’s goal.

3.) The narrowness of the Spanish formation. I’ve said this before, but they completely reverse the equation between width and attacking intent. Just gently, relentlessly working the ball right up the spine of the pitch.

4.) Sergio Ramos, who completely overturns that comment.

5.) Watching the resurgent Beckham excel in his 108th international match: the free kick that forced a rare save from Reina at the start of the second half, the brilliant pass to Carlton Cole that almost led to a goal at the end of it.

6.) David Villa’s goal. Shades of Euro 2008.

7.) The chance to watch a match via an online streaming service that had a clear picture, that didn’t stutter, and that actually worked from start to finish. Congratulations to ITV.

8.) The (apparent) lack of racist chanting from the Spain fans. The atmosphere in the stadium seemed really good in general, from what I could see, though the marching band gave me a headache.

9.) Watching the five-man Spanish midfield keep the ball away from England in the second half. It’s astonishing how well they keep the ball without playing at all cautiously or ever seeming to hurry.

10.) The chance to see whether Capello has instilled enough confidence in English fans to keep them from overreacting to what was ultimately not a very meaningful loss (they were playing a lot of second-choice players, away to the best team in the world, and tried some radical and destabilizing experiments with their lineup). If the tabloids go berserk, we’ll know he has more work to do.


Spain 2 – 0 England: 10 Things I Liked About the Match

by Brian Phillips · February 11, 2009

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