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Euro 2008 Final Preview: Germany vs Spain

   

Is this Spain’s time? If the world was fair, then it would be. All that talent and just one trophy (the 1964 European Championship) and one second place (1984 European Championship) to show for it. Oh, and a whole lot of quarterfinal appearances.

Or is it Germany’s time? Isn’t it always Germany’s time? World Cup winners in 1954, 1974 and 1990. Euro champs in 1972, 1980 and 1996. World Cup finalists in 2002 despite not being particularly good, and finished third at World Cup 2006 even though they were supposedly dreadful.

In short, Germany are a tournament team.

And Spain, well, aren’t.

But that’s all in the past. At time of writing, the Euro 2008 final is in the future.




Spain

Spain been given all kinds of excuses to exit Euro 2008, including the supposedly unlucky yellow jerseys they wore against Russia.

This one was my favourite: Spain had lost quarterfinals on penalties three times – 1986 World Cup, Euro 1996 (to England! no one loses to England on spot-kicks) and World Cup 2002. And all on June 22nd. Plus they hadn’t beaten Italy in 88 years. So it didn’t look good for quartefinal spot-kicks against Italy on June 22nd Euro 2008. But they won. This ain’t your daddie’s Spain, this is a new Spain. With bigger cojones.

No Raul has meant Fernando Torres and David Villa terrorizing defences, though Villa will miss the final through injury David Silva has caused trouble down the left, Andres Iniesta has drifted in from the right and Sergio Ramos has bombed forward to make up some width. OK, he’s forgotten to defend a few times, but it’s hella exciting to watch.

Plus there’s always the long haired man-steel of Carles Puyol to clean up any trouble, and then the almost unbeatable Iker Casillas as the last line of defence.

Central midfield has been an embarrassment of riches. Xavi Hernandez is an all round bit of class Marcos Senna is the Spanish Andrea Pirlo, while Aragones has had the luxury of Cesc Fabregas and Xabi Alonso to use from the bench. I’m not sure there’s another team in Swissaustria who could afford to start Cesc on the bench, when he comes off it and does thing like this:


Only question is: with Villa out, do Spain play Dani Guiza (goalscorer in video) up front, or add Cesc Fabgregas (provider) to the midfield. That’s got to be giving Aragones a few headaches.

Further reading: The Final (a straight assessment, from the heart) from the Spain Euro 2008 Blog.


Germany

No arguing with Germany’s tournament pedigree. And without getting into the unwanted territory of stereotypes, it’s probably not worth reading too much into the poor showing against Turkeuy. Germany did the necessary and won. No reason to think they can’t do the same here. They word I’m trying hard not to type here is efficient. So let’s pretend I didn’t.

This Germany team arguably has more talent than the 2006 team. Poor Mario Gomez has had “dropped” stamped on his arm with good reason, but there are plenty other goal threats. You wouldn’t want to challenge Miroslav Klose for a header and Lukas Podolski is just one goal shy of David Villa in the race for the golden boot.

Ever since his sending off, Bastian Schweinsteiger has come back a different man. A more dangerous man. Meanwhile Torsten Frings and Michael Ballack are not a pair you’d like to meet down a dark alley. Or even a well-lit one. For me, Ballack is the man. Massively underrated. He doesn’t just score important goals like this:

He’s also everywhere, involved in everything and dictating matches in a non-flashy way.

This game might well turn on whether Ballack is fit enough to start or not, and how much the combined physical presence of Ballack and Frings (again, if fit) allows Germany to bully Spain’s silky but slight midfield.

Germany should be predictably solid at the back. Christoph Metzelder and Per Mertesacker are an established (and lanky) pair in the centre, right back Arne Friedrich still han’t taken Cristiano Ronaldo out of his pocket (apparently Real Madrid have offered Friedrich a fortune to let CR7 go) and Phillip Lahm is a far more sensible full back than Sergio Ramos.

Without the doublethreat of Villa and Torres, Germany’s defence might fancy it’s chances. Unless Mad Jens does something, you know, mad.

Further reading: 7 Reasons a German Victory Will be No Surprise – from the Germany Euro 2008 Blog


Position by Position

Have a read of Ian’s excellent post comparing Germany vs Spain position by position and see why he thinks Germany have the edge. Unless Michael Ballack doesn’t start. He’s that important.


Ballack Latest

The David Villa latest is still a big fat no. But it’s looking good for Michael Ballack and his calf, according to one German tabloid.

LiveBlog

Follow the Euro 2008 Final: Spain vs Germany LiveBlog here


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Comments
By MMA Fight | June 28th, 2008 at 11:19 pm
Top

i think germany will take it. their strikers are too much for spain to handle.

Posted from Canada Canada

By Sunee | June 29th, 2008 at 2:58 am
Top

The final Germany-Spain in Vienna today will be doubtless one of the most challenging matches of the Euro 2008. Football at it’s best. But will the final party be peaceful?

Posted from Australia Australia

By jamie | June 29th, 2008 at 6:18 am
Top

i find it amusing how everyone’s making a big deal about spain beating italy on spotkicks on the quarterfinal. italy has an even worse track record with spotkicks than england, besides wc 06 which was pretty much a miracle anyway. having said that, it was their year and you can defy history if it’s your year, so i think it’s going to be spain.

Posted from Singapore Singapore

By Matt | June 29th, 2008 at 11:33 am
Top

ArrrrrrrrGGGGG, ESPN 360 is not showing this game thanks to network coverage. Anyone know a good (free?) stream?

Posted from United States United States

By Marc Loriau | June 29th, 2008 at 12:45 pm
Top

It is Spains time. Fernando Torres time has come.
Marc Loriau

Posted from United States United States

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