Phalanx For The Memories

When it comes to Spain, there are certain cliches readily available to a person writing in English. If what you are describing generally involves people sitting outside, as people in sunny countries often do, then you should make sure you place sangria on the table in front of them. So instead of people sitting outside, you have people sitting outside sipping sangria, which sounds far more interesting. When describing decisive acts, whether involving physical endeavour or not, you always have the option of alluding to bullfighting. So instead of ‘he comfortably saw off his opponent in straight sets’, why not say ‘he saw off his opponent with matador instinct’?

In this vein this Guardian report mentions ‘matador football’. What it also mentions, and I have never seen this one before, is Spain’s team described as follows:

With Spain’s phalanx of minimalist technicians happy to pass the ball among themselves early on, the first half-hour passed off almost entirely without incident.

One imagines that the reporter is not aware of how ‘phalanx’ translates into Spanish, nor is he aware of its significance in Spain. At least one would hope not. Perhaps we can look forward to Fabio Cannavaro getting referred to as The Duke in the next report on Italy?

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June 2006
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