As a god-fearing German, I had a vested interest in this final, the cap to a great tournament. Unfortunately, it didn't go how I wanted it to go.
From the get-go, the Spanish side was showing great pace and was clearly outrunning the German defense. There were a few chances early for both sides however, but neither was selling out for a goal.
In the 23rd minute, Spain's first real scoring chance was striker Fernando Torres' header off of a David Silva cross that ended up going off of the goalpost. Torres was playing as the lone striker due to the injury to eventual Golden Boot winner David Villa.
Jumping ahead to the 33rd minute, Torres didn't miss his second scoring chance, taking and turning German left back Philip Lahm before deftly tipping the ball past a sprawling Jens Lehmann.
Much dirty play was involved throughout the entire game, most of it revolving around German captain Michael Ballack. Ballack was carded along with Spanish keeper and captain Iker Casillas in the 43rd minute for arguing with the official, but Ballack's actions before this on the field of play would have warranted it, as he made many late and questionable ''attempts'' to tackle Spanish players.
After half-time, German manager Joachim Low substituted Marcel Jansen in for an apparently injured Lahm, which could possibly have explained the poor defense on the goal.
The Germans, who'd been relatively even with the Spanish as far as meaningful possessions in the first half, seemed to come out flat after half time, and never recovered.
Low tried to get the Germans more attacking firepower by replacing defensive midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger with striker Kevin Kuranyi in the 58th minute, but this didn't seem to spark the creativity of the German attack, and only accomplished opening up the German defense for more Spanish attack.
German midfielder Sebastien Schweinsteiger had the best scoring chance for the Germans in the 62nd minute, as he rifled a shot that looked destined for the lower far corner of the goal when it bounced off of an unaware Miroslav Klose and went wide to the short side. This chance prompted a change from Spanish manager Luis Aragones, who removed Cesc Fabregas in favor of the more defensive-minded Xabi Alonso immediately thereafter.
Germany's top scorer Lukas Podolski got into a war of words with Silva in the 64th minute, prompting Silva to headbutt Podolski, but no official seemed to have seen this blatant attack which surely would have resulted in Silva's dismissal. Schweinsteiger failed to connect on the ensuing free kick, and before the goal kick, Aragones removed Silva in favor of Santi Cazorla.
As Aragones' two most recent substitutions seemed to paralyze the Germans in the midfield, the Spanish were going for the kill. Sergio Ramos barely missed a header as he rang it off of the post in the 67th minute, Xavi took the ensuing corner to Andres Iniesta who launched a shot that Lehmann barely saved, and then in the 69th minute, Iniesta got free again and rifled a shot that Lehmann bobbled before controlling.
In the 74th minute, Torres got a yellow card for going up the back of German defender Per Mertesacker, but the punishment was too much for the petty small foul that Torres committed. Aragones was forced soon thereafter to remove Torres for Daniel Guiza for fear of a second yellow card. Low countered by removing Klose for Mario Gomez, the half-Spaniard who underperformed when he started earlier in the tournament.
Spain had a great chance to seal the game in the 81st minute, as a series of headers got the ball towards the foot of Marcos Senna with an empty goal in front of him, but he was unable to stretch far enough to get his cleat on the ball.
In the 88th minute, Kuranyi collected a booking for running over Senna attempting to chase down a long pass, even though it showed that Kuranyi was there at the exact moment that the ball left.
The Germans got one last chance as they got the ball down the right flank and Ballack crossed the ball in as a foul was committed inside the penalty box. Only problem being that Schweinsteiger was the man causing the foul. Spaniard Joan Capdavilla gave the ball away to Ballack for another cross, but Ballack launched it over the heads of both Schweinsteiger and Gomez.
After this, Spain ran out the clock, and clinched their first international championship in the last 44 years. They became the first team since France in 1984 (who coincidentally beat Spain in the final of that tournament) to win all of their group games and win the final.
If Euro 08 was this good, imagine how good World Cup 2010 will be, when you add powerhouses Brazil, Argentina and the element of suprise to the mix.
Congratulations to Spain, Euro 2008 champions.