Sunday, June 29, 2008

Spain Wins the 2008 European Championship

For the first time in 44 years, Spain has won a major soccer tournament, defeating Germany 1-0 in the Euro2008 Finals. Fernando Torres scored the only goal of the match in the 33rd minute.

Excerpts from "Spain win Euro 2008!":

Fernando Torres finally lived up to his billing as one of the world's great strikers on Sunday by scoring to make Spain the champions of Europe.

Torres, who had been overshadowed by teammate David Villa all tournament, scored in the 33rd minute of the final to topple the three-time European champions and earn his nation's first major title since 1964.

Touching a sliding pass from Xavi Hernandez past Philipp Lahm, Torres turned and ran past his marker on the opposite side, collected the ball and lifted a shot over sliding goalkeeper Jens Lehmann and into the far corner.

In the end, Spain was a deserved winner of the 13th European Championships, co-hosted by Switzerland and Austria.

Long known as underachievers who peaked between tournaments rather than at them, Spain reached the final at Ernst Happel Stadium with a string of beguiling attacking displays orchestrated by a vibrant midfield – and held true to their values in the highest pressure match.

Xavi, Andres Iniesta and David Silva swapped positions constantly against a midfield marshalled by Michael Ballack and eventually wore out their opponents until it seemed Spain was simply counting down time until the final whistle.

Germany dominated the opening exchanges until a lucky break in the 14th minute gave the Spanish their first chance on goal and a boost that clearly lifted their play.

On a rare foray forward, Iniesta sent a cross into the box from the left and German defender Christoph Metzelder stuck out a boot to send the ball rocketing toward his own goal. Only a diving reaction save by Jens Lehmann kept it out.

Spain never looked back.

With leading tournament scorer Villa absent because of injury, Torres was again the sole outlet in attack. He took Xavi's pass and finished off his chance by flipping the ball over Lehmann and watching it roll softly into the corner for his second goal of Euro 2008.

Germany replaced the struggling Lahm with Marcell Jansen at halftime but Silva still got in a 54th-minute shot that right back Sergio Ramos almost deflected in with a back heel.

Ballack, who had already received treatment for a head wound and was railing against every decision in Spain's favour, shot past the post and almost set up substitute Kevin Kuranyi with a cross that goalkeeper Iker Casillas just tipped away.

But from then on, aside from isolated passages of play, it was all Spain.

After winning their first title in 44 years having beaten Italy and Germany, Spain no longer need to think of themselves as an underachieving football nation.

The "Red Fury" won their second European Championships playing with flair, finesse and a determination that the team had lacked in so many previous competitions.

The Spaniards may not have as many trophies as the Germans or Italians, but the sparkling performance in Euro 2008 finally ended Spain's curse of exiting major tournaments in the quarterfinals.

The 1-0 win over Germany extended Spain's unbeaten streak to 22 matches and allowed embattled coach Luis Aragonés to end his four-year spell with Spain on a high.
Here's a clip of the goal by Torres. The replays show what an amazing effort he made. While watching the match live, I didn't think he had a chance on that one.

You can see more highlights here.

El País has a good slide show of the finals.

Spain became only the second team ever in the European Championship to win every game in their group and then go undefeated in the elimination rounds.

Now, La Furia Roja just has to continue its 22-game unbeaten streak all the way through the 2010 World Cup.


Liam said...

That was a beautiful goal.

Looking forward to 2010.

Jeff said...

Bravo, E'Paña!

It was well-deserved. The score of that game could have easily been 5-0.

Great, creative playmaking from Xavi and Iniesta, and awesome headers by Ramos... Torres, of course, was the bomb.

Very nice work. Congrats to them.

Jeff said...

Great links, btw. How do you find them? FIFA is maniacal about tracking them down and having them pulled.

cowboyangel said...


Yeah, it's too bad Aragones is leaving. For whatever reason, he got them to play like a team more than other Spanish coaches have. It was pretty gutsy to leave off an icon like Raul and include a Brazilian like Senna. I hope the next coach keeps that in mind as they head towards the World Cup. Because there's no reason why they shouldn't do well in 2010. They're young, fast, athletic, and now have this great experience-earning and confidence-boosting tournament behind them.

cowboyangel said...


Yes, I wish they had scored one more goal, so that I wouldn't have been so bloody nervous in the second half, and because I thought they outplayed Germany enough to warrant a 2-0 win. The header by Ramos was so close, and Senna's missed opportunity late in the game. But I can't fault Senna, as it was his excellent play that set up that opportunity, and he played hard and hustled at 100% until the very end. I thought his energy and hustle helped keep the team from slacking off late in the game.

Damn UEFA! I think they really blew it as an organization in terms of promoting Euro2008. Their Nazi control-freak mentality was out of line - and incredibly ignorant of how things work in an internet world. These people obviously know nothing of viral marketing. They obviously weren't paying attention to Obama's use of the web during the primaries. I picture a room full of 68-year old men who've never even heard of YouTube. It was so hard just to find simple highlights. Unheard of. I hope as an internet business model, their efforts were a total disaster.

cowboyangel said...


Sorry, I was ranting and didn't answer your question. I did some searching on YouTube - various people were including links in the descriptions of the videos to web sites that had footage.

UEFA must have loosened up a little for the finals, because even Huffington Post had video of the Torres goal, though you couldn't embed it.

In the end, UEFA's decision was an unmitigated disaster in terms of PR.