The Spanish are champions of Europe for the first time since 1964 as they knock off Germany in the final of Euro 2008.
In case you missed it, here is a brief recap of today’s final:
SPAIN 1, GERMANY 0: Fernando Torres’ delightful chip in the 33rd minute proved to be the difference as Spain convincingly beat the Germans to hoist the European Championship trophy for the first time in 44 years. Following the goal, and especially in the second half, Spain kept its composure to prevent Germany from getting back into the game, and it proved to be more than enough.
MY ANALYSIS: It doesn’t always work out this way, you know. The best team doesn’t always win a high-level soccer tournament.
But the best team won at Euro 2008.
In what will be remembered as one of best and most exciting tournaments in recent memory, Spain capped it all off today with a fantastic performance in the final to win the top prize in Europe.
From the opening day of Euro 2008 until now, Spain had been the most consistent team of the 16 participants, and it left doubt after 90 minutes against Germany about who should be the champions.
When the Spanish got going with their fantastic midfielders pinging the ball around in this tournament, it was a pleasure to watch them. Such was the case in the final, with Spain’s backline and the outstanding Marcus Senna providing a platform for Spain’s attacking players to go forward.
At the beginning of Euro 2008, I wrote about the fact that I wasn’t at all convinced with Spain’s backline and center back Carlos Puyol, who has enjoyed a stellar career but was shaky throughout the 07-08 season with Barcelona.
But my oh my, how solid was Puyol and Co. throughout Euro 2008? Mention should also go to keeper Iker Casillas, who was also outstanding. Spain didn’t concede a single goal in three knock-out games, and when you do that, good things are likely to happen.
All of which helped Spain exorcise some long-serving demons. The Spanish have always been known as underachievers and have never had the nerve to get it done in major tournaments.
But, and I think ESPN analyst Andy Gray made this point perfectly during today’s broadcast, these Spanish players are a different breed than their predecessors were. They ignored 44 years of history and had the right stuff to send Spain into dreamland.
Full marks to them for doing so.
TODAY’S STAR MAN: Marcos Senna, Spain. It gives me a great deal of pleasure to highlight this outstanding midfielder here. Following an excellent performance against the Russians in the semifinal, Senna shined even brighter on an even bigger stage. From start to finish, this defensive midfielder was magic, shutting down Germany midfielder Michael Ballack while providing the platform for Spain’s attacking midfielders to do their thing. You could make an argument for Fernando Torres, Carlos Puyol or others to be called today’s Man of the Match, but you couldn’t have asked for more from Senna.
TODAY’S TOP GOAL: Fernando Torres’ goal vs. Germany. OK, it was today’s only goal, but what a strike it was by the Liverpool striker to lift Spain to the European championship. When Cesc Fabregas hoofs the ball forward to him in the 33rd minute, it doesn’t look like it will be much trouble for the German defense. However, Torres beats German fullback Phillip Lahm to the ball and clips it beautifully over onrushing German keeper Jens Lehmann and in.
For those of you who caught today’s action, what did you think of the proceedings? Any disagreements with my choice for player of the day or goal of the day?