Thanks to the use of social media among the more engaged football fans, the argument is being prosecuted with the fervour of the inquisitions that took place in 15th‑century Spain. Today's believers and heretics are hurling their accusations on message boards and Twitter feeds, one side claiming that we are watching the most creatively exalted team in the history of football while the other accuses them of denying the game the oxygen of dynamism and balanced competition.
Maybe the heretics are just bored by Spain's long sequence of unbroken success. That would be no more than human nature at work, exaggerated by the shortened attention spans of life in the 21st century. But it is odd to see football fans anxious to hasten the end of an era of success that, once it is over, will come to be seen as a golden age.
Seriously. I'm all for seeing new teams rise up and win glory, but for the time being, the other serious contenders in Europe are perennial winners like Germany and Italy, with Brazil and Argentina still the teams to beat in South America. Until Russia, Portugal, Uruguay, Chile and some of the other not-quites find that little extra je ne sais quoi to raise their game, why don't you kids take some Ritalin, shut up and just enjoy that exquisite passing.
Speaking of ADHD and senseless babbling, I heard this exchange near the end of the game, once the result was beyond all doubt:
Ian Darke: "I wonder if they're gonna make it a four-timer...in the World Cup in two years' time. It's quite a thought, isn't it?"
Steve McManaman: "It'll be difficult in Brazil, won't it..."
"...don't win World Cups in South America..."
Face in hands. Dear gods, it's starting already...