EURO 2008: Final*** Germany 0-1 Spain. ***

Germany 0-1 Spain. The scores showing a tight match. Yes, it was a tight match. But I think Spain played much better than Germany and the better team wins the match.

Even the presence of captain Michael Ballack could not help Germany contain a crafty Spanish team that exploited a slow-footed defence and dominated the European Championship final Sunday in every department.

Instead of Germany winning its record fourth title, it was Spain that captured its second championship after decades of trying with a 1-0 win at Ernst Happel Stadium. Luis Aragonés squad overcame a physical German side with a goal from Fernando Torres.

Fernando Torres was the hero for Spain by firing them to Euro 2008 glory against Germany in Vienna – and ending 44 years of underachievement with a 1-0 victory. Fernando Torres simply ran around Philipp Lahm when he scored the winning goal in the 33rd minute. Earlier, he had easily beat Per Mertesacker, Germany’s tallest player, to head against the post.

Spain had a chance to go 2-0 up soon after but the unmarked David Silva badly fluffed his volley after being picked out by Andres Iniesta inside the area.

After the break the Germans sparked into life, with Ballack hitting the side-netting of Iker Casillas’ goal with a volley from the edge of the box soon after, before the Chelsea man and Bastian Schweinsteiger both fired in dangerous crosses.

The match threatened to boil over in the 65th minute when Silva and Lukas Podolski went head-to-head, but despite the appearance of a butt from the Spain man, he escaped a card.

Spain very nearly doubled their lead in the 67th minute when Sergio Ramos broke the offside trap to power a Xavi free-kick goalwards with his head but Lehmann diverted the ball for a corner.

From the corner Iniesta saw his shot cleared off the line by Torsten Frings, before the Barcelona man was denied by Lehmann with another effort soon after.

Luis Aragones’ side still looked the more likely scorers over the closing stages and, with Germany producing nothing to worry Casillas in the Spain goal, the Iberian nation deservedly walked off with the Henri Delaunay trophy.

Heavyweights in European football who produce a constant stream of individual talents, Spain had not won a major tournament since 1964 but finally shook off their tag of being chokers, not able to cope with the pressure of the highest stage.

When Spain goalkeeper and captain Iker Casillas accepted the trophy on a stage, the Spanish fans began chanting the melody to their national anthem, which has no words. Thousands of camera flashes went off as the players jumped in place, then headed onto the field to show off their prize.

Match Summary:
————–

0 – Germany: Lehmann; Fiedrich, Mertesacker, Metzelder, Lahm (Jansen, m.46); Frings, Hitzlsperger (Kuranyi, m.58); Schweinsteiger, Ballack, Podolski; Klose (Mario Gómez, m.79).

1 – Spain: Casillas; Sergio Ramos, Puyol, Marchena, Capdevila; Senna; Iniesta, Xavi, Cesc (Xabi Alonso, m.63), Silva (Cazorla, m.66); Torres (Güiza, m.78).

Goal: 0-1: m.33: Torres took advantage of a pass from Xavi, got past Lahm and kicked the ball over the goalkeeper Lehmann.

Referree: Roberto Rosetti (Italu). Yellow cards for the Germans Ballack (m.42), Kuranyi (m.87) and for the Spaniards Casillas (m.42), Torres (m.74).

Real Madrid won The Spanish La Liga Title for 31st time in their history!!!

The aircraft Real Madrid CF has landed at a Liga title airport and everything is in order. So you may heave a sigh of relief. Because Real Madrid have at long last won La Liga 2007-2008. Because Real Madrid have deservedly won La Liga 2007-2008. Because after flirting so dangerously with the trophy mistress, los Meregues have ultimately locked the wedding ring.

Because the teasing and toying and playing catch with the pole position is now a thing of the past. Because Real Madrid have encapsulated their first successive Spanish league conquests in 18 years.

Yet Schuster’s triumphant side hasn’t only relied on spirit this season. They have coupled efficiency with discipline, married steel to silk and although goals have been leaked in like Mr. Ocean’s team stealing into safes, the midfield and the stikeforce have compensated for those lapses.

Goalkeeper Iker Casillas might have had more shots spit at him than any other custodian in La Liga this season but Guti has more assists for goals than any other player in the league with 14 in 24 starts. The latter clause becomes more enticing when you consider that the 11 matches that Guti hasn’t started, Real have actually won!

Which finely tees us to the contribution by other players in the championship conquest. This season Saint Iker has of course been the safest pair of hands in Spain again worth 18 points (at least) and Guti the temperamental genius somehow inspired by Schuster to temporarily delete the “temperamental” tag but it has been the likes of Pepe, Sergio Ramos, Wesley Sneijder, Mahamadou Diarra, Fernando Gago, Raul, Robinho, Arjen Robben, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Gonzalo Higuain who have shaped the edge. Virtually the entire team really.

Pepe has gradually developed into the €30 million Real Madrid splashed out at FC Porto last summer, Sergio Ramos has been the best right back in Spain and even past-his-sell-by-date Fabio Cannavaro has positively contributed (at times). Wesley Sneijder took over from Guti when the latter was insipid and off key, Mahamadou Diarra has been a rock in Real’s midfield when he has received the support, Fernando Gago is enjoying himself and has been passing the ball around exquisitely, Robinho has mischievously sprouted glimpses of his world class Pele side and Arjen Robben has been a Voldemort for opposition defenders in the last couple of matches when he has got rid of his Injury Demon.

Raul has 17 league goals to his credit this season and with three assists and countless running and constructive passes. Ruud van Nistelrooy’s 12 goals have arrived in spite of his injury plague and three goals in his last three matches all after coming off the bench has earned Gonzalo Higuain the super sub status.

So you see it has been a team effort, Real Madrid’s conquer of Spain. When one of the soldiers have puked and fallen on the ground, another has held the line. With 73 goals in 35 matches, Real Madrid cannot boast to have played romantic fantasy football that President Ramon Calderon promised at the art of the season after getting rid of the “boring” Capello but it has been Real’s efficiency and consistency that has ultimately carried them home but not dry as champagne bottles are being uncorked even as you read this.

There was a whisper of conspiracy in Spain ahead of Real’s trip to Pamplona that they would actually not win at Osasuna on Sunday night preferring to win against FC Barcelona at the Santiago Benabeu on Wednesday to conquer Spain. But if it’s one thing to win the championship with a win over the Catalan rivals, then it’s quite another—and more relishing—to have them form a Guard of Honour and salute the champions.

Which Barcelona shall do in El Clasico on Wednesday night.