Monday, June 23, 2008

Spain Beats Italy!

For the first time in 88 years, since the 1920 Olympics, Spain has defeated Italy in a major soccer competition. The Spaniards won 4-2 on penalty kicks, advancing to the semi-finals of the 2008 European Championship.

Their victory in the penalty round was due in large part to the brilliant performance of goalkeeper Iker Casillas, who guessed right on all 4 kicks by Italy, stopping efforts by Daniel De Rossi and Di Natale.

I was still in Spain when Casillas was suddenly thrust into the soccer spotlight in the 2000 Champions League with Real Madrid. He was only 18 at the time, but he played well. According to Wikipedia, "he became the youngest-ever goalkeeper to ever play in a Champions League final when Real Madrid defeated Valenica C.F. 3-0 four days after his nineteenth birthday." I've always liked him and was glad to see him star in an historic victory by the Spanish national team.

In a ridiculous effort to control video of the tournament for their own profit, UEFA has made it nearly impossible to find simple highlights of the matches. But one blog has the penalty round, at least until the UEFA Nazis bust them.

Up next for the Spanish team is Russia, who they defeated two weeks ago in the first game of the tournament. Germany and Turkey play in the other semi-final match. Spain hasn't won the European Championship, which is held every four years, since the 2nd tournament in 1964.


Jeff said...

A soccer post!!

My son and I wanted to see this game, but we couldn't find it on TV yesterday.

Yup. No Euro Championship since 1964, and Italy has always been the bane of their existence. A co-worker told me how horrendous the officiating was. Very Pro-Italy.

Even though we missed this game, Brendan and I did get a laugh out of Spain's game against Sweden. One of the main glamour boys on Espana's squad, one of the supposedly heart-throb poster boys, is Sergio "El Caballo" Ramos (look him up on Youtube). He plays for Real Madrid and is considered one of the best defenders in the world. He does, however, like to rush upfield now and then and chip in with helping the forwards. Against Sweden he was dogging it back after one rush, and we could see the goal coming. He didn't get back into position in time, and Ibrahimovic made him look like a fool. Sweden scored, making that game closer than it should have been. Spain has a history of that kind of stuff under pressure.

They are now odds-on favorites with Germany to win the whole thing. It'll be interesting to see what happens.

cowboyangel said...

A soccer post. That's what happens in mid-June. I'm getting itchy for training camp to start.

Yeah, I'm afraid that may have been Spain's big game in this tournament. they're a young team - I hope the excitement over this victory doesn't make them overly confident about Russia. They beat them a few weeks ago - all the more reason to lose to them on Thursday!

Or maybe these young guys don't care about their own history of mediocrity on major tournaments. It usually takes a bunch of young, "we don't give a damn" guys to shake things up. Cowboy up and all that.

Liam said...

I saw the overtime and the penalty kicks. It was pretty fun. The ESPN announcers kept talking about how bad the officiating was.

Italy is always great, but a pain to watch. They just keep all their men on their side of the pitch, making a defensive wall and waiting for a chance for a fast break. Makes for very boring soccer.

Spain, should win it all, but it's Spain. It's as bad as rooting for the Mets and the Jazz.

Liam said...