Finally, it were the stalwarts that weathered the storm. The finals of the Euro 2008 will see traditional powerhouses, Germany and Spain, clash for continental supremacy, after they respectively beat Turkey and Russia in the semis. The final seems a more delectable prospect with the kind of football that the two teams have produced.
Germany have risen from the ashes of their dour, direct route to goal gameplay and have emerged a more cavalier and creative force under Joachim Loew, who seems to have taken after the direction that his predecessor, Juergen Klinsmann gave to the national side. Loew, who sports a Beatles-like hairdo these days, has instilled some more of the same rock star flair to his side. This has definitely been aided by the red-hot form of another blonde German mid-fielder, Bastian Schweinsteiger. Schweinsteiger has been one of the best players of the tournament, along side Russian Andrei Arshavin and Spain’s duo of Cesc Fabregas and David Villa. Joachim Loew will put out the same 4-5-1 formation that suited his side so well, with Klose playing the lone man forward as Schweingsteiger and Podolski drive on from midfield.
Mentally, the Germans are quite strong but they will have to be patient and remain focused. The last thing they need is to lose concentration for a split second and concede a goal, something that could be a possibility given the nimble feet of the Iiberian attack force. What favours the Germans is experience – they have been there, done that at two World Cups recently, and hence should not really have a case of nerves.
For many years now, the Spaniards have had a big international tournament in them, and this is the year that they have chosen to show what they are capable of. A 21 match unbeaten streak, some classy passing football and results to match: La Furia Roja should be billed favourites in the final. Cesc Fabregas has come off the bench and delivered some amazing performances, and the Davids – Villa, Guiza and Silva have been class acts in midfield. The sole problem for Spain is the unavailability of David Villa because of his injury. This might just turn the balance towards Germany, as it is far easier to mark a slower Fernando Torres in a Spanish 4-51, than to deal with the two strikers in tandem in a 4-4-2. Fabregas must surely start, as coach Luis Aragones looks to win Spain their first major title.
In the end, it will be the 90 minutes on the pitch that will decide the fates of the two teams. Both teams look certain to score in every game but so far, Germany have had the leakier defense, so my money is on Spain to win 2-1!