Spain should not have been in contention for the title. The country’s finest players spent most of the last year on strike. A dozen of them were not invited to the World Cup tournament as a consequence. The squad that did play was held together by an uneasy truce.
But Spain is now champion of the world, sweeping past England, the favorite, to win the final by a single goal, 1-0, a testament to an enduring truth of soccer and of sports.
The final was a fortifying message to the many girls in both countries who have increasingly been taking up the sport: Women, too, can elevate a nation to the summit of world soccer.