Preamble Hello. For years, Spain were the swingers of world football: desperate to be in among the hip crowd but never quite sure how to go about it. Truth was, they were so money and they didn't even know it. Then, at Euro 2008, came their epiphany: they found internal peace, realised they didn't have to be like anyone else, and with it came a long-overdue first trophy since 1964.
Now they are hoping to become the eighth side to win the World Cup; and, while the rest of the world is getting in a fearful tiswas about Jabulanis, altitude and strap-ons, Spain are going about their work with an intimidating serenity. They're not interested in what anyone else is thinking or doing; nor should they be. In short – and to continue the half-arsed Swingers riff that came to me during my 184-second lunch break and which doesn't really work, if we're honest – our babies are all growns up.
Today, against poor old Switzerland, they should hopefully provide an antidote for the sexless football that has permeated this tournament. If Holland's so-called Total Footballers gave us football art, then Spain are producing footballl erotica, a sensual feast without comparison in the game's history. If they were being played in a film, it would be by Catherine Deneuve. (England, since you asked, are played by that woman who played Bet Lynch in Corrie.)
If Spain win this World Cup - and, if we are going to get all pompous about this, every right-thinking person should pray that they do - they may go down as the greatest team of all time. Greater ever than Brazil's 1970 clodhoppers. don't think I've excited since Glenn Miller arrived at Borden Grammar School one Friday with a copy of Madonna's Sex book. That was another let down, of course, but I'm sure Spain won't be. If they can't energise this World Cup, we might as well all pack up and go home.
Team news Fabregas? Not today thanks! Torres? Meh.
Spain (4-1-2-3) 1-Iker Casillas; 15-Sergio Ramos, 3-Gerard Pique, 5-Carles Puyol, 11-Joan Capdevila; 16-Sergio Busquets; 8-Xavi, 14-Xabi Alonso; 21-David Silva, 7-David Villa, 6-Andres Iniesta.
Switzerland (4-4-2) 1-Diego Benaglio; 13-Stephane Grichting, 2-Stephan Lichtsteiner, 4-Philippe Senderos, 17-Reto Ziegler; 7-Tranquillo Barnetta, 8-Gokhan Inler, 6-Benjamin Huggel, 16-Gelson Fernandes; 19-Eren Derdiyok, 10-Blaise Nkufo.
Abject clown with a whistle Howard Webb (England)
Reasons why every right-thinking person should want Spain to win the World Cup, part 1 in a never-ending series.
Spain's record since winning Euro 2008 P26 W25 D0 L1 F75. They won 10 out of 10 in qualification, while Switzerland lost at home to Luxembourg on their way to the finals.
Two ways to make yourself feel better this lunchtime
1. Put down that salad leaf, you fat git.2. Sponsor MBMers' good causes, namely those of Kat Petersen and Poppy McNee and Dan Hickman.
Talking Sense, with Mark O'Neil "Whilst it would have been nice to have had a few great games by now and some more goals, It's not time to start writing this world cup off yet. The great World cups are mainly remembered for the knockout stages and I'd rather have the best teams playing averagely at this point and keeping their powder dry than the false dawn of say 2002 which started brilliantly before dipping to be the worst tournament since 1990. There are some potentially epic knockout games on the cards. I'm already stoked for Argentina v Germany. Or it could be rubbish all the way through."
What he said. A World Cup's legacy is approximately one parts group stage, four parts knockout stages, so there's no need to worry yet. Remember, for example, that everyone was doing excitable discharges about 2006 after the first week, and it turned out to be a stinker.
While we're talking about all things coital, are these the best groupies ever? (Clue: yes.) Rumours that Robbie Earle sorted them out with tickets are unconfirmed.
1 min Switzerland assume the position from right to left. They are in white; Spain are in red. "Looking forward to the MBM," says Leo Lin. "Work has banned the streaming of TV and radio today so this is my first World Cup game with the Guardian's MBM!"
You have my most sincere apologies.
2 min "Well young man, you are getting near the mark," says Tony Attwood. "I'm 62, nearly 63, and I go to jive clubs three times a week, and get a lot of dances so don't smirk. What's wrong with old people having fun - I bet we have more fun jiving than people are having watching most of the World Cup."
Nowt wrong with that at all. Jive on, brother. I hope to have some fun when I hit 90. Is it still called a knee-trembler at that age or is it more of a kneecap-shatterer?
3 min The passing carousel gets going for the first time. After 20-25 passes, the left-back Capdevila overhits his cross.
4 min Grichting flattens Busquets 35 yards out, slightly right of centre. Xavi's free kick is cleared by the erstwhile north London combination of Senderos and Ziegler. But it's all Spain: I reckon they've already racked up 50 successful passes, which is about as many as some Premier League teams manage in an entire half. It's all so easy and effortless, but without the kind of arrogance or indulgence that could make it annoying. They just happen to be a collection of unbelievably good footballers, and they don't need to go round dancing and telling everyone about it. They just get on and do their job.
6 min "What the hell is a jive club?" asks Eoin Fitzpatrick. I wondered this but thought my carefully built image of effortless urbane cool would be shattered if I displayed such ignorance.
7 min There is a real fluidity to Spain, as you'd expect: Silva and Iniesta in particular are wandering where the mood takes them. Switzerland have had no scares as yet, but it's been a lovely start from Spain.
9 min "'If Spain win this World Cup - and, if we are going to get all pompous about this, every right-thinking person should pray that they do," quotes Richard Vale. "Err no, every right thinking person wants their own team to win, not the best team to win, weirdo. If you'd said 'football lovers will be content if they win,' something like that, then fair enough. But all this tosh about loving football for its own sake can only take one so far, partisan involvement is an essential ingredient in enjoying the spectacle."
Darn, you're right. I've had it wrong all this time. Silly old me! Where should I send the editorial consultancy fee?
10 min Two unusual occurrences. Switzerland a) cross the halfway line and b) win a corner. It's headed corner by Alonso at the near post and Spain break beautifully. Villa on the left plays a one-two with Silva and then tries to run Lichtsteiner in the box. His touch is a fraction heavy and the keeper Benaglio claims.
11 min Plenty of tic-tac, or whatever they call it, but one thing any team of Ottmar Hitzfeld's will be is competent defensively, and Switzerland are managing to plug the gaps pretty well for now. Still, 90 minutes is a very long time to be doing this - as much mentally as physically.
12 min "Yes, yes, they may be a collection of unbelievably good footballers, and rich, and good looking," says Michael Hunt. "But they're probably all lonely and sad on the inside. That's what's keeping me going."
13 min "Is it wrong that one of the reasons I am looking forward to Spain playing is that they are so pretty?" says Rachel Clifton. "Also - beards. They do love a beard in Spain and I think we don't see enough of those in international sport anymore."
14 min Busquets falls over. So far, so normal, but this time it was after a foul from Imler. The free kick, 35 yards out, is taken short and Spain resume normal service. It's bewitching stuff, albeit relatively harmless at the moment. Switzerland will be pleased with their start, if you can be pleased with having about four touches of the ball in 15 minutes.
15 min Silva stumbles over after a clumsy challenge from Senderos on the left of the box. There was no real appeal, just a sly look from Silva towards Howard Webb, but he didn't get the ball and I don't think Switzerland could have complained had that been given.
16 min Silva scuffs a shot straight at Benaglio from the left corner of the box.
17 min Ramos zips dangerously into the box from the right and then toebungs fecklessly wide of the near post with his left foot when he should have tried to find a teammate.
18 min "Today's coverage isn't displaying the same hackneyed cynicism which has (rightly) permeated much of the MBM World Cup coverage so far, leaving me a little bit disorientated," says James Lachno. "I feel like I'm in a pub in Hoxton and some floppy haired indie afficionado is telling me how much he loves The Beatles, instead of bemoaning their earlier 'pop' efforts or bigging up Wire and Kraftwerk. Are Spain really THAT good?" Not really, I'm just a relentlessly positive person. I might call myself Sunshine.
19 min "I'm thinking Spain will look devastating in the group phase like Brazil did in 1982 but like their spiritual forefathers will be undone by a brutal run of top class opposition further down the line," says Michael Gibbons. "Could they stick it to (for example) Portugal, Italy, Argentina and then Brazil in consecutive games? I don't think so, though I'd love to be proved wrong." I think they can. After all, England would have won the 1998 World Cup had they beaten Argentina - Glenn Hoddle said so. They only had Holland, Brazil and France after that. As for this World Cup, Portugal and Italy are dire and Argentina are a rabble. Plus Spain can make major changes for their last group game and minor changes for the second round and quarter-finals to keep players fresh.
21 min This is quite boring. There, I've said it. Sue me! Spain are painfully easy on the eye, but Switzerland's organisation and concentration is good and, against that, they are struggling to penetrate. Iniesta shoots straight at Benaglio from 25 yards.
22 min "All this possession and ticky-tacky passing," says Sean Boiling. "Won't somebody think of the ball-boys?"
23 min The first real chance for Spain. Iniesta played a stunning, forensic through ball to Pique, lurking in space on the right side of the box. He came inside the sliding defender superbly - like a diluted version of his amazing goal v Inter - but then his low sidefooted was splendidly saved by the sprawling Benaglio.
26 min Xavi is penalised for a high foot by Howard Webb. The free-kick is 25 yards out, right of centre, and Ziegler's low left-footed shot is saved slightly awkwardly by Casillas, plunging to his left. He couldn't hold it but it was ultimately a pretty comfortable save.
27 min "All this tippy-tappy stuff from Spain," sneers Ian Burch. "Where's their Billy Whitehurst or Barry Conlon when they need to go to plan B and hoof it up the field?" Ah, Bill. I'd love to see an energised Bill roaming the green at the World Cup. One of the greats, that lad.
28 min Can we just call this World Cup off? Defending has become far too easy. I got pelters for this when I wrote it on ma blog in 2006, but I reckon football needs bigger pitches. As that's impossible, it should experiment at a lower level (the Premier League, say), with the next best thing: 10-a-side.
29 min "This must be a rogue Jabulani," says Mark O'Neil. "There must be something wrong with this one, it's not flying into touch every time a player tries a long pass."
30 min Iniesta runs onto Silva's penetrative angled pass and then, on the edge of the box, comes back inside the last man Grichting and is dragged over. That might have been a red card but Howard Webb gives him a yellow. You could argue it was a soft foul but I thought he pulled him over. The free-kick is in the D, and Villa's withering strike deflects wide off the rump of Fernandes for a corner.
32 min Senderos will be going off injured any minute now. "Need bigger goals," says Alistair Stewart. "Since the laws were first laid down the average human height has increased, making it easier for the 'keeper to cover more of the goal. FACT (possibly)." But that only affects one facet of play and will just encourage hairy-arsed dockers to shoot from 30 yards. Ten-a-side please!
34 min Here's the latest from Nightmare Corner, with Ross Kitson: "If I was playing against that Spanish attack I would be having nightmares for days – but appreciative nightmares, like the one where you are really thankful as you are being beaten about by a charming semi-clad Amazonian woman."
35 min Capdevila's floated, right-footed cross from the left is headed back across goal by Villa and Switzerland clear a little desperately. Moments later, a crestfallen Senderos is replaced by Von Bergen. That's really sad. He actually did it when he slid in to clear the ball and kicked his own player.
36 min "I believe Algeria have already magnanimously offered to take up 10-a-side for this, and indeed every other, tournament," says Lee James. "So far it doesn't seem to result in a whole load of excitement. Have we not considered multi-ball yet? It's the future for idiots. Fifa will love it."
37 min The trouble for Switzerland is that they are most vulnerable when they attack. That was the case then, when they lost possession and Puyol immediately drifted a 50-yard pass over the top for Iniesta. He reversed it to Silva, whose cross was blocked at the expense of a corner.
38 min Switzerland win a corner on the right thanks to Barnetta. They have some big lads in their side so approximately 100 per cent of their goalscoring opportunities are likely to come from corner. Not that time: the delivery was poor and easily cleared.
39 min Spain have had 68 per cent of the possession, and I'm surprised it's that low. "Good point about 10-a-side Rob, but I reckon it should be even less than that," says Chris Zacharia. "I think most teams would just drop a striker and play 4-4-1 if it was 10 a side, continuing the terrible reign of defensive football. Socrates (as in the footballer) claimed eight outfield players would be best."
41 min Ramos passes the ball straight into touch. Spain are struggling to penetrate, against Switzerland. I can't believe this is happening. I've lost faith in everything.
43 min Ramos hoofs a 60-yard pass to Villa, who got behind the defence for a moment. Eventually he lays it back invitingly to Iniesta, 25 yards out, and he spanks it high and wide.
44 min "Not ten-a-side,but four groups of six to give us more matches where both sides have a reasonable expectation of winning and so are actually trying to win, not fearful of defeat in one match of three," says Gary Naylor. "It's probably too easy to score in national leagues and there's no problem in the Champions League once those mismatches in the group stages are disposed of."
45 min Villa misses a decent chance. He ran free down the inside-left channel after a good pass from Iniesta, came back inside the sliding Von Bergen on the corner of the six-yard box, but then chipped it extravagantly and wastefully across goal to safety. He was going for goal, I think, but made a horlicks of it.
Half time: Spain 0-0 Switzerland Permission to weep for the future of football?
46 min Spain kick off from right to left. "If it was video that killed the radio star, it's the deplorable habit of playing two holding midfielders that's killing football," says Dileep Premachandran. "Even Spain are doing it. Why do you need Busquets when you have Alonso there? Play Fabregas instead. Or bring Torres on to hassle the defence (and free up space for Villa)."
47 min Busquets pulls a short corner back to Alonso, who scrunches it miles over the bar from 20 yards. HANG THE JABULANI!
48 min "That persistent drone is really annoying," says Adam Forbes, lining up the inevitable gag. "Any news on the BBC offering games with Mick McCarthy filtered out?" HONK! I like McCarthy. He's an underrated manager and, I imagine, a deceptively tender lover.
49 min There's definitely more urgency this half from Spain, who for all their technical majesty were just a touch somnolent in the first half. The overlapping Capdevila wins another corner but it's eventually cleared when Silva falls over in the box and Imler clears.
50 min When Imler only half-clears Iniesta's low cross from the left, Alonso sets a curler towards the far post from 25 yards. It nicks off the head of Grichting and loops just over the top.
51 min Spain takes another short corner and Xavi's left-footed cross nicks off the head of a defender before looping towards the far post. Ramos piles in but Benaglio gets there first to palm it wide for a corner. From that, Spain create half a chance. Iniesta, having received another short corner, pings it deliberately beyond the far post to the unmarked Puyol. He heads it - perhaps inadvertently - down to Silva, who screws wide.
GOAL! Spain 0-1 Switzerland (Fernandes 52) Switzerland take the lead with an absurd goal. A long goal kick was headed down by Derdiyok towards Nkufo. His return ball hit the knee of Derdiyok and bounced into a huge gap between Pique and Puyol. As Derdiyok roared onto it, Casillas came out feet first and took him out. Play continued and the ball hit Pique, ran loose to Fernandes, hit Pique again – who inadvertently fell on it with his hands – and then broke loose for Fernandes to tap in from two yards. There were bodies flying everywhere there, like some sort of cartoon barroom brawl; it was ridiculous. Pique has a boxer's cut above his right eye and is being treated for it.
54 min In a daft way Spain are lucky to just have conceded a goal, because both Casillas and Pique could have given away a penalty and been sent off during that attack.
55 min "It's just like watching Arsenal," says Jackie Brunsdon.
56 min Pique very nearly turns Lichtsteiner's low cross past Casillas. He got nothing on it at the near post, but he stretched for it and, with Casillas committed, a touch would probably have taken it in. It was very close.
57 min Iniesta plays an inviting pass to Villa, whose rudimentary left-footed curler from the edge of the box is easily saved by the sprawling Benaglio.
58 min "Hi Rob," says Michael Minihan. "Just to point out, I made love to Mick McCarthy at a motel just outside Doncaster and I can confirm your suspicions about him being a tender lover. After the two of us had emptied the mini bar, he made off in the morning without paying though, typifying Premier League managers irresponsible attitude towards debt."
59 min "I'm watching this through a glass panel of a door with no sound," says Mark Healey, "but should Casillas not have gone as well as the goal have been given?"
I think I can answer your question: Howard Webb is the referee. Technically, he could have played an advantage both for Casillas and Pique and then sent them both off after the goal. Which, let's be honest, would have been extremely amusing.
60 min "Why is it absurd that Switzerland have taken the lead?" says Marco Rinaldi. "Because you didn't want them to? Perhaps for the next Spain game there could be a slightly less biased reporter?"
Or because they've had about two attacks, perhaps?
61 min Xavi plays a wonderful early pass through the defence for Villa, but Benaglio storms from his line and just gets there first.
62 min Spain make a double substitution: Jesus Navas replaces the superfluous Sergio Busquets, and Fernando Torres replaces the disappointing David Silva. So now Spain will go to a 4-2-4 formation.
63 min When Villa's shot is blocked, Iniesta bends a beautiful first-time effort fractionally wide of the left post from 20 yards with Benaglio motionless.
64 min The shock is not so much that Switzerland are ahead - that can happen - but that they have been so comfortable. Benaglio's saves have been little more than routine.
67 min "Is defending the new black?" says Wilson Edgar. "Mourinho must be laughing his socks off."
68 min Torres curves wide from the edge of the area. He ran ahead of the last man Grichting onto a square through pass from the left by Villa, but his first touch took him sideways and he had to spin around the ball to shoot across goal with his right foot. It drifted a few yards wide.
69 min Derdiyok slings in a decent cross from the left towards Nkufo, whose header towards the near post deflects wide off Puyol. Howard Webb considers all the evidence and gives a goalkick.
70 min Xabi Alonso hits the bar! It was a scorching effort from 25 yards, when Xavi passed a low corner back to him. Alonso marauded onto it and absolutely smashed it towards goal. Benaglio barely knew what day it was, but the ball smacked off the the bar and down to safety.
72 min Switzerland are starting to tire. Navas miscontrols the ball the wrong side of Ziegler and manages to run onto it, but his shot is weak and straight at Benaglio.
73 min "I'm fairly sure I saw in a recent You Are The Ref that the red card for denying a goalscoring opportunity should not be issued in the case that the referee has played advantage and the attacking team have gone on to score," says Ben Mabley. "The logic being that no goalscoring opportunity was actually denied. If it was a violent foul then you can still issue a red for that, though."
74 min Howard Webb books Ziegler for tugging back Navas, who is giving him real problems on the right.
74 min Now Durdiyok hits the post for Switzerland! It was a sensational solo run infield from the right after a neat one-two with Nkufo. His dainty close control was beautiful and took him past both Pique and Puyol; then, from 10 yards, he deliberately poked the ball wide of Casillas with his right foot, and it came flush off the post.
76 min "Anyone wants to buy my bets of Spain winning the cup?" says Billy Leung.
77 min Pedro comes on for Iniesta, who limps off after a heavy but fair challenge from Lichtsteiner.
79 min The excellent Navas controls a bouncing ball 25 yards out, right of centre, and then swooshes a fantastic bobbling effort just wide of the far post. Switzerland make a substitution: Hakan Yakin replaces Derdiyok, who has been outstanding in the second half.
81 min Navas has made a difference, but Spain aren't really making Benaglio do too much. This is extraordinary.
82 min Barnetta, cutting infield from the right, wobbles a good effort just over the top from 25 yards.
83 min "Ben Mabley might have seen in You Are The Ref something about not giving a red," says Robin Hazlehurst, "but in a recent Howard Webb Is The Ref it was decided ok to give the goal, two reds and two penalties for the Swiss effort."
84 min Pedro's deep cross is headed back across goal by Villa, but Grichting uses his body well to ensure Torres can't get his head on it. "Experienced, solid defending..." coos Mick McCarthy.
85 min Oh, Spain.
87 min Pedro tries to wriggle through the eye of the needle, but there isn't one. Switzerland's defensive discipline and concentration have been sensational. When Torres gets a yard of space to run onto Pedro's cross on the edge of the box, he boots it high and wide. He has looked really rusty.
88 min Villa chests a classy ball to Torres, up against the last man Von Bergen, but he overruns it hideously.
90 min There will be five minutes of added time. Navas wins a corner.
90+1 min The corner comes to nothing, with Pedro sidefooting a volley back whence it came for a goalkick.
90+2 min Howard Webb books the keeper Benaglio for timewasting. Then Barnetta is replaced by Mario Eggimann, another defender.
90+3 min Pedro beats Lichtsteiner smartly on the left but Eggimann heads his cross clear. Switzerland look as comfortable as could be expected under the circumstances.
90+5 min Hakan Yakin is booked for deliberately handling Capdevila's cross. The free-kick is 20 yards out on the left wing. Alonso drills it into the wall; it deflects to Villa by the touchline and he blasts it through a posse of bodies in the box.
90+6 min Spain win another corner on the right. It's swung in by Navas and half cleared to Xavi, who volleys high and wide. It's surely over now.
Full time: Spain 0-1 Switzerland Astonishing. We knew Spain would breathe life into the World Cup, but we didn't expect it to be like this. This is one of the great World Cup shocks and – most shocking of all – it's fully deserved. Spain did not create many clear chances and Switzerland, quite simply, did a number on them. You might bemoan their anti-football tactics but nobody could dispute how well those tactics were planned by their marvellous manager Ottmar Hitzfeld and executed by an indefatigable and admirable group of players. That was remarkable, and sets up the very real prospect of Brazil v Spain in the last 16 now. Blimey. Thanks for your emails; I'm off to see if the world is still on its axis.
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