Football season officially ended tonight with the final of Euro 2008 in Vienna, Austria.
Germany took on Spain in an intriguing encounter between two of the pre-tournament favorites. There were no Greek underdogs stealing the thunder this time as Spain beat the Germans 1-0.
Germany last made the final in 1996. They ended up 2-1 winners that day over an impressive Czech Republic. Their sixth final in the competition ended without a fourth win however but they did prove one thing. You can always count on the Germans to be there or abouts. The Spaniards reached their first final in 24 years and managed to put an end to their status as "perennial underachievers," with a first victory in a major competition since 1964!
The Germans had survived an earlier scare in the tournament, a 2-1 loss to Croatia in the group phase. They rallied to sensationally beat Portugal 3-2 in the quarter finals before seeing off Turkey in the semi finals in another terrific 3-2 win.
Spain started brightly with wins over Russia (4-1), Sweden (2-1), and Greece (2-1). The lottery of penalties saw them beat Italy in the quarter final, before a comfortable 3-0 win over Russia set up their clash with Germany.
So to tonight's final, Michael Ballack recovered-as we all expected-to lead the Germans and Spain lined up 4-5-1 with an intimidating midfield behind Fernando Torres.
Germany started the brightest as Spain looked a little cold early on. Nothing was to come of the early possession though and Spain slowly got themselves back into the game. There appeared to be no cutting edge however as the game began to open up with both the Germans and the Spaniards running the ball too far, ending promising attacks.
That all changed as a another quick attack by Spain found Torres at the back post but his header crashed off the foot of the post. The opening goal had a touch of clumsiness to it as Torres appeared to have overrun a through ball, but some rather inept defending from Philipp Lahm and an over zealous keeper (Jens Lehmann) allowed the Liverpool number nine in to slot the ball home. Lahm never appeared for the second half and one might suggest his coach had thrown his toys.
Spain looked the far better side after that and some enterprising balls from Xavi, Iniesta, and Cesc Fabregas into Torres and his support act David Silva made Spain look the far more dangerous side. The second half opened up even more than the first as both teams continued to attack. As we all know, the Spaniards are no Italians and they're more than capable of conceding a goal.
Germany had a few half chances but Spain ran this game and I'd say with David Villa in the Spanish line up, the gap in the scoreline would have been far greater.
The final whistle sounded with Spain still on the attack and more than deserving winners!
Underachievers? Well not today.
The Spaniards are European Champions.
Although I am a huge supporter of the German team, and although I was devastated at the end of this game, I can not agree more that the best (and most consistent) team in the EURO 2008 Tournament this year won the cup. Germany looked like they had no urge throughout the entire game, and I can only recall one or maybe two good opportunities for the Germans in this game.