"This is dull. I hope this doesn't go to extra-time," said the Englishman just before Puyol scored. "That was boring," agreed the Ukrainian when the final whistle went. But if the game lacked the crash, bang, wallop of Germany's previous two wins that was mainly because Spain did to them what they had done to England: made it seem as if the two teams were playing entirely different sports. As the Guardian's Raphael Honigstein tweeted, "Spain were absolutely brilliant in midfield, a pleasure to watch. If you find that boring, you don't understand football."
Xavi completed ninety-two accurate passes out of one hundred and six attempts - an astonishing performance in a World Cup Semi-Final. If Lampard, Barry and Gerrard had been capable of strangling the life from the German midfield, would England fans have called them boring? Probably. It would have taken about five minutes of possession football for the first shouts of "Get it up the pitch, man!" or "Have a dig."
The English problem isn't the weight of expectation, the lack of a winter break, or the number of foreigners in the Premier League. It's the way we still insist on playing the game.