South Africa to Santa Barbara Day 27: It's Not How You Start ...

Spain rides a cliché into the finals of the World Cup

Follow the 2010 World Cup with the UCSB men's and women's soccer programs all tournament long on "South Africa to Santa Barbara: The Cup is Coming" will provide daily commentary on the day's biggest storylines, featuring video interviews with Gaucho soccer players and head coaches Tim Vom Steeg and Paul Stumpf.

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It's funny how sports clichés become just that.

Such as "It's not how you start, but how you finish."

There is a reason for clichés, after all. They become clichés because they prove prophetic. Or because enough things happen to keep people uttering these phrases, turning them into clichés.

The above cliché is most indicative about Spain's soccer team. The Spanish were largely written off very early in the World Cup because they lost their very first match to Switzerland.

Then, quietly, La Roja just kept winning. While fans kept discussing teams to go deep like Brazil, Argentina, Germany, the "guays" - Uruguay and Paraguay - and even the underdog Ghana, Spain just kept rolling along.

Now, the Spaniards are left standing, only one team between them and their first-ever World Cup title.

By playing the form of soccer that helped them win each of their past three matches 1-0, Spain played a very adept form of keepaway from the powerful German team, the one that just kept slamming its opponents with goal after goal after goal.

Not on Wednesday. Spain played ball control, never allowing Germany to go on one of its patented counter-attacks and scoring. La Roja played great defense, controlled the ball and just wore Germany down by forcing the Germans to run around and try and get the ball back from Spain.

Which leads us to another sports cliché, also fitting of Spain: They stayed within themselves.

And now, they will play one final match to see if they will be the last team standing.

Clichés, as boring as they seem, somehow just seem to work. And, the Spanish form of soccer, while not the most exciting, works well for them. So, La Roja might also be called La Cliché.


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