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Spain are trying to keep the lid on the euphoria after their breaking their quarter-final curse with a penalty shoot-out victory over world champions Italy.
Because of the vagaries of the draw for Euro 2008, “la furia roja” now face Russia in the semi-finals, the team they beat 4-1 in their opening match of the tournament.
On paper, Spain have everything running in their favour. Psychologically they have the upper hand given the result of the group game, team morale has been boosted because of the win over Italy, they have no injuries and the first choice players remain fresh after being rested in the final group game against Greece.
Spain triumphed in both their previous semi-final appearances in the competition, over Hungary in 1964 and Denmark in 1984.
As a reporter at Euro 2008 you’re only as good as the team or teams you are covering and after Sweden and Romania’s elimination from the finals, I was the first of the Reuters team to pack my bags and go home.
It was disappointment tinged with relief as the call came after Sweden’s defeat by Russia. Exhaustion was beginning to catch up with me, so my own bed in Brussels was a very attractive offer.
As someone once famously said, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
They were not talking about the finals of the European Championship at the time, but the phrase certianly applies. UEFA, under pressure it must be said from some of their 53 member associations, are weighing up the pros and cons of expanding the Euros to either a 20 or 24-team tournament.
Cristiano Ronaldo told Real Madrid what they wanted to hear when he reacted to Portugal’s Euro 2008 exit with a clear indication of what he has in mind for his future.
Ronaldo was careful never to mention the words Real or Madrid when he spoke to reporters in Spanish at the end of the match in Basel but his words still did not leave much to the imagination.
UEFA’s decision to banish mild-mannered coach Joachim Loew from the touchline for Thursday’s quarter-final against Portugal is being put down to anti-German feeling by a lot of people here, a suspicion fanned by the angry response from German FA bosses.
It’s not the first time Germany have been hit with what neutral observers (I’d like to consider myself one of those) might view as a rather harsh penalty just before a critical match.
Germany’s general election may still be a year away, but the challengers are already battling it out for the big political prize on unlikely territory — at Euro 2008.
From a tiny second division Portuguese stadium to the luxurious surroundings and facilities of an Alpine sports centre, Greece are feeling like true defending champions at the Euro 2008.
The atmosphere, however, is not nearly as happy as it was in Portugal.
Four years ago when Greece settled in Vila do Conde, a sleepy seaside town in the estuary of the Ave river north of Porto, noone, including myself would have ever dreamt that a few weeks later coach Otto Rehhagel’s men would be crowned champions of Europe.
Switzerland have already bowed out and Austria are only just clinging on after a stoppage time penalty equaliser against Poland on Thursday. But the Euro 2008 organisers are insisting that no hosts equals no problem.
Sat with my anorak on in Vienna in the Reuters Euro 2008 office I spent much of the week in the build-up to Euro 2008 buried in weird and wonderful statistics … and a lot of them point to Germany winning.
For example, the last time the Germans played on the second day of a European Championship final tournament was at Euro 96 in England. They beat the Czech Republic 2-0 at Old Trafford, Manchester and went on to lift the trophy for the third time.
Football fans all love to hate referees … but getting close up and personal with them would change a lot of people’s opinions.
Meeting the refs and other match officials for Euro 2008 at their media open day at Regensdorf just north of Zurich was an illuminating experience.