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A social democratic draw

The German Musiala escapes from Rodri, in Spain against Germany, this Sunday.Alberto Estevez (EFE)

Very long pass to Villoro:

I imagine that in this moment of defeat, Your Excellency, it must not be easy for you to look at a green full of dolls again. And I even imagine you telling yourself that soccer, after all, is not what matters in your Mexico, and spending a placid Sunday determined to enjoy what is, from a good mole de gallina to a story by Rulfo or a essay by Carlos Monsivais, going for a walk through the cobbled streets of your town with the smiling S. or a song by your friends the Caifanes. And yet, your German past condemns you –although not much– and enables me to tell you what happened tonight between yours and ours.

Yours, it is clear, are the Germans, the ones who educated you; ours, the Spaniards, those who engendered us. Spain is a rare entity in our lives, Your Excellency. Among so many things shared, it is not minor to have lived here for years and to have had a father –one you, another me– who was born in these lands. Yours in Barcelona, ​​mine in Madrid, but both in this kingdom that, to kick balls, dresses up in red.

The game had, before it was, a morbidity that it did not have afterwards: Costa Rica’s early victory over the Japanese meant that Germany did not have to play all or nothing; still losing he would have a second chance. When the game started you could tell: it looks like your German cousins ​​had celebrated the Costa Rican victory so much that they were already tired. Spain, at first, controlled.

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It was a strange game, as if it wasn’t quite what it was. Two young teams played with consecrated jerseys but without known stars. One of them, Germany, is the quintessence of triumph for no other reason than triumph: it wins because it wins, because it is what it is, because the world is like that. And, accustomed to that banality – “soccer is a sport that the English invented, where they play 11 against 11 and Germany always wins”, said Lineker – nothing could have surprised them and us more than to see them lose the other day with their old Japanese allies. Which is why today they played more than they usually do. These “group stages” are more boring than the knockout matches, but are warmed by the fact that sometimes one is played for so much longer than the other. In an eighth or a semi, both play for the same thing: for their lives. In a match like today’s, the Germans played almost everything, the Spanish even less. Their sly smile was noticeable.

Their formations were already statements: in Germany, of the six above, five were from Bayern; in Spain, of those six, four from Barcelona. We know that the central countries prosper: they use players from their own clubs, men who play together all year round – and that is an enormous advantage over the poor of our continent, who must gather people from the five seas, present them, learn the names and tricks.

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Still, the match came out a bit cold. If yesterday Mexico and Argentina staged the fight of capitalism against Lenin, tonight everything was rather social democratic. Germany attacked with lukewarm clumsiness. An example was Kimmich, its supposed leader, who managed to take two free throws in a row that wanted to be centers and went straight through the bottom. Meanwhile, Spain tried to take advantage of some touches and runs, youth to the fullest, but it was the old Jordi Alba (33) and Morata (30) who put together the goal that put them ahead. Twenty minutes later, when capsizing was already threatening, a spare nine, Fullkrug, nailed the tie that left everything even more lukewarm.

I liked two players: a German who was born in England and is called Jamal Musiala –Hitler cries, tears his mustaches– and he is 19 years old, natural elegance and skinny power. And, of course, Pedro. Pedri is my downfall: one of those few who makes you want to watch more football. In an age where unsuccessful jugglers abound, the canary does not do a touch too much, builds with his eyes, does not dribble –or haggle–: he simply disdains the presence of an opponent, perhaps two, with a serene step. I remember a writer you know who insisted that the key to the beauty of a text is that no word seems superfluous, that they all sound necessary: ​​that’s how the boy Pedri plays, all his movements seem so.

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Spain and Germany, then, tied: nothing is said, Spain almost classified, increasingly confident. Here the climate is changing. Before the championship began, no one believed too much in their team’s chances, and many promised me their subsidiary loyalty: “if they eliminate us, I’m going to support you”, some said; others said “when they eliminate us”. And they all said “so that Messi wins his World Cup”. Now, on the other hand, the illusion grows and patriotism advances. I hope it doesn’t get unbearable.

So here I leave you. Tomorrow I’m going to Seville for the day, but it’s still your turn. Sometime you will have to confess your secret to me. It is increasingly clear that you trouted the fixture. You had to write the day Mexico and Argentina made their debut, tomorrow Uruguay and Brazil are your turn, and you leave me, the day after tomorrow, with the best of Ecuador, Senegal, Qatar, Iran and the US. No offense, you will have done something . And it must have cost you a fortune, because FIFA doesn’t sell anything for two pesos. Or it will simply be, Your Excellency, that your excellence makes some things easier for you.

I congratulate you, then, and I envy you – which is like congratulating you many times. Hugs.

The complete correspondence of Caparros and Villoro during the World Cup in Qatar

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