Spaniards were often dangerous as individuals but weak as a team. When the authoritarian took over in 2004, he let his players do what Spaniards had done for generations: improvise. He said: ‘I have been the proud owner of this item for over 35 years, since Diego and I swapped shirts in the tunnel after the famed match. Most of Spain’s regular starters, save for goalkeeper Iker Casillas, have completed 200 passes. They are Spain’s unbreakable wall. No doubt the other teams in this division are thrilled at the prospect of another round of hidings next season. But after Spain was outclassed by France in the Round of 16 at the 2006 World Cup, Aragones changed the entire philosophy. Spain won Euro 2008, imposing its will effortlessly at times, and Aragones left soon after the Henri Delaunay trophy was paraded through Madrid. The Norwegian crown was lifted by the rising oil prices, up around 0.8% versus the euro. Each conjured moments of magic – Marcelino scored the winner in the final of Euro 1964. Raul is Spain’s all-time leading scorer – but all stand inside Spain’s Hall of Shame dedicated to World Cup misfortune. Names like Luis Arconada, Jose Antonio Camacho, Fernando Hierro, Joaquin, Macelino Martinez, Luis Suarez Miramontes and, perhaps greatest of all, Raul are held up high by their respective club teams for so many years of so many victories.
And, in terms of talent, there is nothing differentiating these Spanish players from those who’ve gone before. The Spanish are now contenders again. As tears of joy fell and glistened on red jerseys and Spanish flags from Durban to Madrid, the most evocative examples of relief and exhaustion as Spain reached its first World Cup final, perhaps there is no better time to spare a thought for those who can’t bask in this triumph. Remember, until Wednesday, Spain had never played in a World Cup semi-final. DELEMONT, Switzerland – Omar Fraile of Spain sprinted to victory in stage one of the Tour of Romandie on Wednesday, and in-form Primoz Roglic took the leader’s yellow jersey. In fact, if not for one difference, many of these great club players might had added to Spain’s pitiful reputation: the greatest soccer nation on the planet with the worst record on the grandest stage. It’s something he could do without at a stage of life where he could simply buy a place on the Costa Brava and intersperse walks on the beach with polishing the medals he won with Aberdeen, Spurs and Barcelona.
Although the movement sometimes seems slow and laborious, it’s unstoppable. Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid, right, shoots against Toronto Raptors’ Marc Gasol, center, with Kawhi Leonard, left, watching during the first half of Game 3 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series, Thursday, May 2, 2019, in Philadelphia. Philadelphia 76ers’ Ben Simmons, center left, of Australia, shoots against Toronto Raptors’ Marc Gasol, center right, of Spain, during the first half of Game 3 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series Thursday, May 2, 2019, in Philadelphia. Toronto Raptors’ Pascal Siakam, left, looks to make a move against Philadelphia 76ers’ Tobias Harris during the first half of Game 3 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series Thursday, May 2, 2019, in Philadelphia. Toronto Raptors’ Kawhi Leonard, right, reaches for the ball as he holds off Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid, left, during the second half of Game 3 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series Thursday, May 2, 2019, in Philadelphia. Toronto Raptors’ Marc Gasol, center, is fouled by Philadelphia 76ers’ Ben Simmons, left, with Joel Embiid, right, also defending during the first half of Game 3 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series, Thursday, May 2, 2019, in Philadelphia. Toronto Raptors’ Kyle Lowry reacts to a call during the first half of Game 3 of the team’s second-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers, Thursday, May 2, 2019, in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid kicks the ball into the crowd following Game 3 of the team’s second-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Toronto Raptors, Thursday, May 2, 2019, in Philadelphia. The Lakers went on to sweep San Antonio before defeating Philadelphia 76ers 4-1 in the NBA Finals to seal their second straight championship. BASKETBALL – Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant celebrates while San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan walks off disconsolately during Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals at the Alamodome in San Antonio. Cristiano Ronaldo famously left his hometown of Madeira to join Sporting Lisbon as a kid, Lionel Messi and a host of star names developed at Barcelona’s La Masia while Wayne Rooney toughed it out on the park pitches across Liverpool. The Welsh wizard left the Saints for Tottenham in 2007. Spent six years in north London before joining Real Madrid in a deal worth £85m.
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