So dreams can come true. Even Spanish footballing ones. And they can even come true in a wondrous way.
The Cava is still flowing and rightly so. In winning Euro 2008, Spain ended a quest for silverware that at 44 years’ length, two more than England’s, had defied all sense of fairness or logic.
But that they laid their hoodoo to rest in such style makes them the toast of the soccer world. Not since the Netherlands in the World Cup of 1974, or the Hungarians in 1954, has a nation playing such dazzling football reached the final of a major tournament. Unlike Cruyff’s and Puskas’ teams however, the Spanish vaulted the Qq Poker Online Germans at the last hurdle. The heart has beaten the head at last and the Beautiful Game is new again.
Their 1-0 win was not as delightful as their earlier victories in the Alps, but there was still enough of their mesmerizing passing and movement to leave nobody in any doubt that in more ways than one, the best team of the tournament had triumphed.
Germany suffered from Michael Ballack’s woes; having missed Saturday training, he took a bloody wound to the eye and got himself booked in a frustrating first 45. Then Philipp Lahm, another key player, fatally hesitated to let Fernando Torres score before leaving the side at half time. In the second half, the Germans looked oddly jaded and unable to test Iker Casillas in Spain’s goal, but even had fortune been on their side, you suspect the Spanish would still have been too strong for them.
This was indeed a victory for football, if we believe the game at its best is about aesthetics and not just winning. The soccer world had believed for so long that strength, hard work and organisation were the keys to victory, that we had forgotten about the entertaining by-product the fans so adore.
Flair players are have been considered liabilities in the quest for results, so set against this background, Spain’s win comes as an refreshing counterblast to the prevailing consensus.
Watching them labour to a 1-0 win over the USA in Santander on the eve of the competition, I saw enough of a midfield loaded with attacking talent to know they would be a force at the finals, and I tipped a team from the Iberian Peninsula to win, though I still felt a fit and on-song Germany could edge them thanks to their superior big-game mentality.
I was wrong – Spain had that inner steel to balance their twinkle toes. Confidence, that most powerful yet elusive weapon a team can posess, stayed with them until the end. Where the Netherlands, the other truly impressive team from the first round failed, the Spanish succeeded. Their self-belief saw off the challenge of the impressive Russians, devastatingly so (3-0) in the semi-final, before their prowess prevailed once more when Vienna called.
A final is like …