Italy v Spain from a Brisbane perspective

Spanish fans celebrate their Euro 2012 win in Brisbane
Part of Jimmy Gooner’s blogging aim is to present the world of Arsenal support from different pockets around the world. As part of that, I went down to Brisbane’s well-known Park Road to watch the Euro 2012 final with the masses in the early morning.

For those that don’t know, Aussies have to do it tough when it comes to football. The domestic A-League only enjoys a niche following (though it is growing) and only in certain pockets of the country. Furthermore, the standard of football is somewhere akin to England’s League 2 (the old Division 3).

So for those wanting to watch the higher standard of European football, you’re in for very late nights and/or absurdly early mornings. 3:00pm starts in England are the midnight games for Australia’s east coast, while Champions League games come in around 4:45am.

But those that do follow the roundball game are part of a furiously passionate following who have long accepted bleary eyes at work and waking up the neighbours as part and parcel of the sport.

This morning, Brisbane’s Italian community came out in force, alongside the smaller (but vocal) Spanish section for another early start to the day. Park Road has hosted some immense footballing occasions for Brisbane fans down the years, often seeing the police cordon off a segment of the road with fans ruling the street for three hours.

Not quite the story this time round, as fans watched the big screen from across the street, sitting precariously close to the incoming traffic. We’re not talking pavement sniffing, here. More like sitting in the goddamn parking isle.

The photos were all taken by yours truly, so please have a browse and enjoy.

One goes to Park Road to watch football for two reasons: for the ‘big match’, and for the people. It’s not much of an atmosphere, truth be told. People tend to mill around, close together to avoid the morning cold and are more fixated on the big telly than getting chants going. “Italia, Italia” and that “campeone” song did the rounds for a bit, but for true, fiery atmosphere, nothing beats Brisbane’s Riverside Pig and Whistle pub. The club fans dominate this scene with all the supporters clubs belting out chants and assorted hate speech.

I was hoping for an Italian win this morning due to sheer numbers (I was taking photos. Turn that frown upside-down). The Italians turned out in force to watch this game, but within 15 minutes there were several glum faces floating about. Things got progressively worse as night became day, but a general willingness to have a good time (or to smoke like its your last) meant the environment was at least pleasant.

For proper atmosphere, its club fixtures you’re after, and I’ll be doing a review of the Premier League’s opening night come August 18.

As for the game itself, there can now be absolutely no arguments of Spain’s place in the history of football. Easily one of the greatest international sides to play the game with two Euro titles sandwiching a World Cup triumph.

‘Tiki-taka’ got a bit of a hammering during the tournament as everyone jumped on the Germany and Italy bandwagons. The fabled 4-6-0 formation on paper took the piss quite a bit, and several well-known bloggers were going on endlessly about how Spain’s Barcalona-esque tactics were dull without Lionel Messi.

But Cesc Fabregas came to the fore as the false nine in the final, and the quick thinking behind his pass back to David Silva was as excellent as the headed finish. Xavi’s pass to Jordi Alba was masterful and Barcelona clearly have a leftback on their hands, which is frankly frightening, given it has always been their weakest position.

Fernando Torres came on to give Spain that much sought after ‘focal point’ and notched himself a goal to further the debate about formations, before putting another on a plate for Juan Mata.

Kudos to Italy, who really did transform their catenaccio image to a flexible, combative side with plenty of flair. Pirlo reminded us all of his class which has been around since his teens, and Balotelli’s finish against the Germans will be one to remember.

But thank god that is over. Now we can concentrate fully on the only real football that matters, as Arsenal head towards preseason. Can’t wait.

Finally and begrudginly, some wise words from young Arsenal upstart Zak Ansah.

Thanks for reading. More tomorrow.

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