Saturday, June 28, 2008

Earning the (re) cap: Preparing for a memorable final

Photo: David Silva scores for Spain in their 3-0 win over Russia Thursday [Photo from Virgin Media].

Breaking down Day XVIII of the European Championships...

Spain 3, Russia 0
Well, Spain did a lot to dispel their reputation as chokers, but they still have the most difficult task of all remaining. The first half was reasonably even, but Spain poured on the jets in the second while the Russians came out flat, and they were soon rewarded with a beautiful Xavi Hernandez goal. To their credit, the Spanish continued to attack, and added insurance goals from Daniel Guiza and David Silva later on to clinch the win.

Russia, on the other hand, looked much more ordinary than in their stunning victory over the Netherlands. Still, they held the Spanish attack in check for an entire half and created chances of their own as well, no mean feat. The best team won, but the Russians' accomplishments here shouldn't be minimized. I think they'll probably knock off Turkey in today's third-place game, which should be quite entertaining.

Prediction: Russia 2, Turkey 0

Now, on to the match everyone really cares about: Germany v. Spain. Interestingly, it's not as much of a stereotypical battle of Teutonic defence and Latin attack as you might think. Germany has shown throughout this tournament that it has numerous attacking options of the utmost class, including Philipp Lahm, Miroslav Klose, Lukas Podolski and Bastian Schweinsteiger, and they've demonstrated that they can win high-scoring battles (see the 3-2 victories over Portugal and Russia).

The real question for both sides is their defence, and both have looked shaky at the back to this point. I give a slight edge to Germany on the back four, but Spain recoups that with the goalkeeping advantage of Iker Casillas over Jens Lehmann. It's going to be a bloody close match, and it should hopefully provide a feast of football as well. In the end, I'll stick with my pre-tournament pick of the Germans. As Gary Lineker famously said (and even Spanish coach Luis Aragones has picked up on this one), "Football is a simple game: 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans win."

Prediction: Germany 3, Spain 2


  1. I'm pretty sure they don't do a third-place playoff in Euros.

    The Lineker quote is fantastic, and so bloody annoyingly true!

  2. Bah, you are indeed correct. I guess I got it mixed up with the World Cup and thought there was a third-place match. There should be one: allow some more fans to see another match and give one of the countries involved minor bragging rights. Anyways, Lineker is fantastic, but he was unfortunately wrong today...

  3. That he was. What a game!!!

    Lineker will always be fantastic, as he was a Spurs booooy. Him, Gazza, Klinssman, Anderton... we need those days back!

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