The Rain on Spain fell Mainly on the Pain

This time the win didn't go to an underdog displaying grit and spirit and determination.

This time it wasn't a veteran side winning on experience and guile.

And this time, it wasn't a team that has done more folding, collapsing and choking than any one country ought to be required to endure reverting to form and going in the tank.

This time, this one glorious time, Spain grabbed the win in a big game, and they did it with such style, skill and confidence that it's hard to envision them losing to anyone, much less the plodding, predictable German team they'll face on Sunday.

You kept waiting for Spain to do what Spain always does: find a way to blow it.

Guus Hiddink (who would really look great wearing that US Soccer polo shirt right about now) had the Russia squad playing so far over their heads that you'd need a crane to get there while the Spaniards showed up carrying a decades-long history of international under achievement and frustration.

But a funny thing happened: Spain, classy and composed, refused to fold.

When you saw them out there in the pouring rain, you figured Spain's superior skill would be neutralized. It wasn't.

When the brilliant David Villa went down early (and is probably out for the final as well) you figured it would shake them. It didn't.

When they took a nil-nil draw into the locker room at the half you figured they'd start to hear footsteps. They didn't.

Instead, they came out and played maybe the best half of football we've seen in the tournament: stylish, skillful, confident and superbly professional.

Finally, when Xavi Hernández scored off a breathtaking piece of work from Man of the Match Andrés Iniesta you began to get the feeling that the Spanish weren't planning on fading away.

With their defense barely breaking a sweat while handling the soon-to-be-absurdly-rich Andrei Arshavin (who's gone from the chorus line to top billing faster than Elizabeth Brekley in Showgirls, and he didn't even have to take his clothes off) Spain's pressure and dazzling passing finally began to wear down a game but outclassed Russia squad that has proven it belongs.

Not even an inexplicably dreadful Fernando Torres butchery of a superb Sergio Ramos in ball that your dear old Granny could have converted could dent the Spaniards' confidence.

Two brilliant balls from Cesc F