So it’s Spain and Germany in the final of Euro 2008. History against flair. In today’s show we focus on these two teams while also remember ing that football is not just all about the Euro 2008 as the Copa Libertadores comes down to the final game. We also
- Look back at the Good, the Bad and the Ugly in the football news
- Introduce a football expression in English for Football
- And continue the languagecaster predictions competition
Germany in the final. It’s something we’re getting used to. Seven times in the world cup with three wins, and this is their six time in the European Championship finals with three wins already under their belt. So looking at form and history, Germany are looking at a less than a 50% chance of winning this final. That’s of course what most pundits think too. Spain are the favourites, but Germany come into the game with perhaps less pressure on their shoulders.
Will this mean they can relax and play with a freedom that might upset their Spanish opponents? I don’t think so. Let’s be frank, apart from Portugal, the Germans have had a rather soft route to the finals. Spain meanwhile have had to overcome the group of death and the rejuvinated Russians to get where they are.
Podolski and Schweinsteiger’s goal threat relies almost entirely on the quick break, and apart from this Germany have little else to offer apart from Michale Ballack at set pieces and his industry in the middle of the field. Without him, it is doubtful Germany would have progressed this far, but he is unlikely to dominate against a Spanish midfield packed with talent and the key defensive midfielder Senna. There are also rumours that he is injured and may not even feature in the final. This year he’s been a runner up in the Carling Cup final and the Champions League final, and of course his team, Chelsea, finished second in the Premiership race. He’s also missed out in a final in the World Cup 2002 through suspension. Not a lucky player to have. Add to this Lehman’s erratic form between the posts and it is hard to see Germany coming out on top.
But that’s what most people said when they played Portugal and at half time against the Turks.
Now as Damon has already mentioned Germany are no strangers to playing in international tournament finals but the same cannot be said of their opponents Spain. Indeed, in my lifetime they have only played in one final and that was the 1984 defeat to Michel Platini’s France. Since then it has been said that they have flattered to deceive, even earning the tag of underachievers and often accused of lacking bottle though in my opinion this is all rather unfair. They have suffered appalling refereeing decisions at crucial moments, most notably against South Korea in 2002 and they have also been knocked out on penalties on three occasions at the quarter final stage in recent competitions.
The fact that they went through this time on penalties against their bete noir, Italy, suggests that this team not only possesses the traditional style of its predecessors but has grown up. And how.
Much of this is down to the dour but very experienced coach Luis Aragones who dropped national icon Raul, decided that wingers were too unpredictable and encouraged the team to play to its strengths, in particular allowing los jugones literally those that play – well, to play. So, the Barcelona pair of Iniesta and Xavi, Valencia’s much-underated David Silva and Arsenal’s Cesc Fabregas have all played prominent parts in Spain’s run to the final. Can they beat Germany? Yes, they can. Will they beat Germany? Difficult to say, but that penalty win over Italy in the quarter finals was an important breakthrough for Spain and I think they are going to run out winners in Vienna on Sunday.