28 June 2008
Euro 2008 Final Preview: Spain vs. Germany Has All the Right Ingredients
I feel like taking a big deep breath right now. One of those breaths where, after you’ve been working at a furious pace, you see there are only a few minutes left on the clock, and just need to fill your lungs before you lower your head and charge in for the final exhaustive burst of energy.
That is how this Euro 2008 tournament has been for me so far. For this incredibly entertaining tournament, we can largely pay tribute to outstanding, attack-minded football from some usual suspects, Holland, Germany, Spain, but should pay special attention to the tournament's unlikely heroes.
Turkey, who came and emphatically announced they had every intention of winning the thing. Who even when decimated by injury and card suspensions, battled to the bittersweet end against a heavily favoured Germany.
Russia, a team full of youngsters who under the tactical genius of Guus Hiddink, decided to show the world what a lightening fast and tireless offense looks like. They dismantled the early favourites, Holland, but finally lost their footing against Spain.
But the matches are played, and now the final is set. And it all comes down to two giants of international football. Spain versus Germany.
Spain is a team of superstars who never seem to get it together in the big tournaments. They are an “on paper” team who always seem to stumble. But not this year, not this Euro. This time they got it right. They played with typical Spanish style and flair and still won the crucial games. They had to dig deep in the quarterfinals to send their friends across the Mediterranean, Italy, home in the penalty shootout. That gave Spain the confidence they needed; to know they too can win the ugly matches. This confidence showed as the moved easily past the Russians in the semi finals.
Germany. Germany is Germany. They just seem to do it. No matter what, Germany seem to do what it takes to make it to the very end of these international affairs. Sure, they have their share of superstars, but they haven’t looked great; yet here they are again! Germany are a team who finish under pressure. They were being out-played ,out-hustled, out-hearted, by the Turks in the semis; yet as soon as they get even a whisper of a chance, and incidentally it was Schweinsteiger’s first good touch on the ball all match to that point, the Germans punch it home for a goal. All they need is a shade of momentum to build on, and Germany are in the finals.
Neither team will bunker down on defense. They both have solid back fours and solid keepers who they will rely heavily on. Both will play attacking football. Both have creative midfielders. Both have dangerous goal scorers. The Germans are bigger. The Spanish are quicker. And, oh by the way, it’s the final of the European Championships. This one has all the right ingredients for an absolute firecracker!