Spain are the champions of Europe after defeating Germany 1-0 in the final of the European Championships in Vienna. The Spanish, so long the perennial underachievers, thoroughly deserved their victory after dominating the final from start to finish.
Simply put, Spain were far too good for the Germans and no one would begrudge them their victory. They were so much better technically, tactically and physically that it was amazing the score was only 1-0. They carved through the German defence time and time again and against a better team you would think that this might cost them. Not against opposition like this though.
German captain Michael Ballack was a doubt before the game and it was obvious in his lack of mobility that he was not fit and he struggled to link up with Miroslav Klose, who looked isolated in attack. Hitzelsperger and Frings tried hard but were left chasing shadows at times as the Spanish passed the ball around with the kind of intelligence and precision we have come to expect.
Its rare that the most attractive, entertaining team go on to win the major trophies but this Spanish team has added steal to go along with the flair that has always been there.
Marcos Senna has marshalled the midfield excellently and Marchena at the back has been there to clear up the few mistakes made by Carlos Puyol. All this has allowed the likes of Xavi, Fabregas, Iniesta and Silva to attack with the confidence that they have a solid defensive base and in Fernando Torres and David Villa they have two of the worlds deadliest strikers.
Huge credit must go to the coach Luis Aragones. It’s easy to say that when you have so many talented players that you just tell them to go out and play but not only has he made bold tactical decisions, his use of substitutes has been vital. The introduction of Fabregas into games gave them another dimension and Carzola and Güiza have played important roles in closing out games.
After superb performances from Holland, Croatia, Russia and even Turkey, it was a travesty that Germany got to the final. Defensively they have been shocking and apart from Ballack and glimpses from Podolski and Schweinsteiger they have never looked like possible winners. It is a testament to the spirit of Joachim Löw and his players that they reached the final but it also highlights the poor decision by Uefa to separate the competition into two uneven halves.
Two years ago Germany were praised for their attacking play under Jurgen Klinsmann but despite the same players this has looked a totally different side. However enough about the losers lets rejoice in the winners.
This Spanish squad is young and has the potential to go on and dominate the top-level of international football like it has done at youth level for many years to come and it is justice that such a great tournament should end with such great champions.