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Spain made winning Euro 2008 look decidedly easy, but a major tournament triumph does not come by accident. Here’s how Spain’s first big title in 44 years came about.
1. Game plan: Spain concentrated on doing what they do best, namely keeping the ball and letting their rivals exhaust themselves trying to win it back. It meant tough decisions for coach Luis Aragones, who left good, but less technically gifted footballers at home. Aragones based his team on the creative talents who came through the Barca youth teams — Xavi, Iniesta and Fabregas – and stuck with them to the end.
2. Team spirit: This Spain team doesn’t believe in galacticos — stars who are bigger than the team itself. This wasn’t Ballack’s Germany, Beckham’s England or Ronaldo’s Portugal. This was Spain’s Spain. When asked why Villa was left out for the game against Greece, when the Valencia striker might have made all but certain of finishing as top scorer, Aragones said he wasn’t after individual awards, it was a collective trophy that he sought.
It’s the main reason why he left Raul at home.
3. Generosity: Players like Senna ran their hearts out to let the more creative midfielders shine. Villa was the team’s first defender, and captain Iker Casillas invited everybody to his room to play cards at night. The collective was above the individuals.
It took 44 years but Spain are finally European champions once again.
A well-taken first half goal from Fernando Torres sealed a 1-0 win over Germany in an open, attacking final which summed up the whole of Euro 2008.
Looking at the match and the finals in general, technically-gifted Spain probably deserved to end their major tournament hoodoo. Do you agree?
Starting at the back there is nothing like a commanding goalkeeper and we have three contenders who have been nothing like a commanding goalkeeper.
In our area of London, national flags have hung in shop windows, kids have worn team shirts 24/7 and, after a couple of Euro 2008 games, complete bedlam broke out.
The main road was blocked by dancing crowds and horn-blowing cars raced around the side streets with youngsters hanging out of the windows. The parties have gone on almost until dawn.
Roberto Donadoni has lost his job as Italy coach following Sunday’s penalty shootout defeat by Spain in the Euro 2008 quarter-finals.
The 44-year-old seems bemused as to why failure on penalties should mean the axe. He should realise that the reason for his departure is that the world champions were poor throughout the tournament, even if they managed to sneak through to the last eight and almost the semi-finals.
Turkey coach Fatih Terim said he would probably leave following their unlucky 3-2 defeat by Germany in the Euro 2008 semi-finals.
Given the way his determined and depleted side played and the gracious manner in which Terim conducted himself, a move to a big European club may not be far away.
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.
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.
Vlog on the pitch host Owen Wyatt travels to Cadiz to bring us his view of Spain’s penalty shootout victory over Italy in the Euro 2008 quarter-final.
What is the most intense penalty shootout that you can remember? Is Italy coach Roberto Donadoni deluding himself that the world champions played well?