World Cuppage: Spain 1 - Portugal 0; The Iberian Incident at Guido's Pizzeria & Tapas

click to enlarge No bull: the Spain fans at Guido's take their soccer seriously. - photos by Keegan Hamilton
photos by Keegan Hamilton
No bull: the Spain fans at Guido's take their soccer seriously.
If skirmishes haven't yet erupted on the Spanish-Portuguese border, the bullets (hopefully proverbial) will start flying shortly. There's a strong mutual dislike between the two nations and today's knockout round World Cup match definitely didn't do much for Iberian diplomacy in years to come.

Had a Portuguese person mistakenly strolled into Guido's Pizzeria & Tapas earlier this afternoon wearing a Cristiano Ronaldo jersey, violence probably would have been narrowly avoided but a war of words almost certainly would have ensued. Even without an actual green-and-white-clad foe in the building, the cadre of Spaniards in attendance put the fury in La Furia Roja.

Early in the match, Portuguese pretty boy Cristano Ronaldo muffed a pass on the Spanish end of the field and a bald guy in a Spain jersey taunted the television with the line, "At least his hair looks good!" And, much like Ian's experience at Coco Luoco during the Brazil-Portugal match, the word puta was often used in reference to the effeminately handsome Real Madrid striker.

In other words, it was once again the quintessential Spanish soccer experience on the Hill.

It started, of course, with the food. The bar served tapas gratis (free) of bite-size slices of bread topped with jamón serrano, a thick slice of raw tomato and a green olive impaled on a toothpick to everyone who ordered a drink.
click to enlarge The selection of tapas gratis, the Spanish equivalent of amuse-bouche
The selection of tapas gratis, the Spanish equivalent of amuse-bouche
Again, the two for the price of one tapas soccer special was in effect. This time the albóndigas casera seemed like a solid bet and the dish did not disappoint. A large portion of meatballs and cubes of fried potato came simmering thick white wine, garlic and onion sauce. It was a heavy meal for a hot afternoon but so tasty that half a basket of bread was consumed afterward sopping up the savory, creamy sauce. 

The second choice was alcachofas jamón -- artichoke hearts sauteed with peas and little bits of jamón serrano. Full from the first plate, I offered to split the ample serving with my neighbor at the bar. He aptly described it as "the saltiest vegetable dish" he'd ever eaten. The saving grace was the morsels of cured ham, which resembled American bacon bits in shape and texture but had the unique briny flavor of Spanish jamón.

Owing to laissez-faire officiating, the soccer was brutish. Spain's Xabi Alonso took a heel to the jaw and another player had his jersey nearly ripped off in a scrum. Neither play drew a whistle, prompting Pat (one of the Americans from the Germany-Serbia game at the Tip-Top) to ask, "What's it going to take to get a yellow card in this match? A stabbing?"

Spain dominated possession with their precision passing but couldn't put a ball in the net until the 63rd minute when David Villa scored on a nifty heel pass from Xavi. The Portuguese goalkeeper blocked the first attempt off of Villa's left foot but was helpless on the follow up from the right boot.
click to enlarge The best part of this picture is that the guy behind the bar is a fan, not an employee
The best part of this picture is that the guy behind the bar is a fan, not an employee
The crowd in the bar let loose with that unique combination of ecstasy and relief that comes with a late goal in a hard-fought match, with one mustachioed man at the end of the bar exclaiming in a heavy Spanish accent, "If at first you don't succeed, try again!"

In the end, it was especially touching to see Guido's owner Segundo basking in the Spanish victory. Surrounded by what had to be his granddaughters, the elderly Madrid native had a smile that was roughly the size of the Iberian penninsula on his face after the win over Portugal.

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