Dissecting Spain's amazing goal
Andres Iniesta ...
To Xavi. To Silva. Iniesta. Silva. Iniesta.
So do most the players. The Poland players, anyway.
Uuuuuup it goes.
Doooown it comes.
No one expected that.
Xavi. Silva. Goal.
Three players, nineteen touches, fourteen seconds, and one completely bemused defence. One completely undone defence and one completely exposed goalkeeper.
If ever a goal defined a team, this goal defined Spain.
Spain's final practice match before flying out to South Africa could hardly have gone better. Even Iniesta's early departure didn't ruin their mood - despite a muscle strain, the midfielder looks like he'll be fit for Spain's opening World Cup game.
There were goals from Silva, Xabi Alonso, Cesc Fabregas, Fernando Torres and Pedro, plus an own goal from Dudka, which everyone seemed desperate to give to David Villa - like he normally needs any help getting goals - as Spain completed a 6-0 thrashing of Poland in Murcia.
Thrashing? No. That sounds too blunt, too violent. Too, well, crass. Artless. It was more like a deflowering. And nothing summed that up better than the second goal.
Tight space? No problem. No way through? Yes there is. There is when you have the movement, touch and precision that Spain have.
Sometimes it's hard to avoid the feeling that when Spain get it right - and what a difference Andres Iniesta makes - you can wear all the armour you want, but it still won't protect you.
Not because Spain have the brute force or the firepower to hurt you anyway. Not because they can blast a bloody great hole in the bronze or the tin or the steel you cower behind. Not because they eschew the horse and the lance for a nuclear bomb.
But because they will simply take your armour off you piece by piece, distracting you as they remove your helmet. then your gorget, your pauldrons, couters, and vambraces, your gauntlets, cuirass, cuisses, and poleyns, greaves and sabatons ... [*]
... Until, before you know it, you're standing there completely unprotected, wearing nothing but your medieval underwear. Blushing. Knees turned in, arms crossed protectively, pathetically across your suddenly skinny, vulnerable body.
Then, and only then, will they finish you off. Then and only then will they stick the knife in.
Softly. Almost apologetically.
Stripped of your protection, all you can is watch sadly. Rather like Poland's goalkeeper Tomas Kuszczak, in fact.
No wonder he looked so utterly helpless, desperately defenceless. His defence had been stripped away, leaving him naked and alone. Like so, so many defences before them.
No wonder everyone seems to think Spain are favourites for the World Cup.
Sometimes - times like Tuesday night in Murcia - it's impossible to think anything else.
[* And, yes, I did have to look that up. I'm not that weird.
About the Author
Sid Lowe lives in Madrid and writes a weekly column for guardian.co.uk. He also writes regularly for the Guardian, World Soccer, FourFourTwo, and the Telegraph. He works as a commentator and panellist for Spanish, Asian and U.S. television, and has acted as translator for David Beckham, Michael Owen, and Thomas Gravesen.