Breaking The Jinx

Everybody has their bogey team, and so it has been for Spain against Italy for almost ninety years. No competitive wins against them since 1920, and the massive feeling of injustice brought about by the 1994 World Cup. Of all the teams that they could possibly have been drawn against in the quarter-finals, Italy was the only one that could have given this resurgent Spanish team cause for serious psychological concern. There is an element of self-determination in the Spanish perception of Italian football. The Italians always cheat, always go for the gamesmanship, get away with the refereeing decisions and ride their luck. Spain, by contrast, always play football, never have any luck and always end up losing – usually against Italy. It is a chip on the national shoulder, an itch which they have not been able to scratch in living memory. Until now, that is. Last night’s victory on penalties against Italy was more than just a win for Spain. It was a psychological exorcism. The Spanish media is second only to the British in terms of its hyperbole and hubris, and the build up to this match was an exemplary display on their part of getting the excuses in early. At the top of the list of Spanish grievances is the 1994 World Cup quarter-final against Italy. “If there is an image that sums up Italy...

Read More