29 June 2008

SPAIN 1 (Torres 33)

Metzelder almost rewarded Germany's early dominance with a goal. Spain went forward on the break and Xavi took out six Germans with a beautiful pass with the outside of his right foot to Iniesta, with his first touch he checked inside Friedrich before passing towards David Silva but Metzelder shinned the ball forcing a sensational right handed save from his own goalkeeper. Ramos and Fabregas combined down the right, Ramos floated a cross into the box and Torres showed incredible athleticism to beat the giant Mertesacker in the air and his header crashed against the base of the right post. Spain were awarded a free kick deep in their own half. 11 passes later Xavi sent Torres running between Metzelder and Lahm. Metzelder appeared to check his run figuring Lahm, who had a yard on Torres, was going to clear but Torres barged his way past Lahm and with Lehmann advancing off his line lifted the ball over him from an angle wide on the right, into the bottom left corner. Brilliant finish. Ballack received treatment for a clash of heads with Senna four minutes later.

Spain should have buried Germany under a sea of goals in the second half but failed to take their chances. Ramos tried to divert a David Silva shot from a corner but his back heal rolled well wide. There was a brief interlude when Jansen dispossessed Puyol as he tried to shepherd a ball out of play but overhit his cross, Schweinsteiger touched the ball back to Ballack and his shot was deflected wide by Marchena. Ramos broke from the wall to meet a Xavi free kick with a powerful header but Lehmann saved. The resulting corner was played short to Iniesta and he was denied a certain goal by Frings' goal-line clearance. Such was Spain's dominance even Senna got in on the act. He ran with the ball 40 yards from goal, turned Kuranyi inside out then passed out wide to Cazorla, Guiza headed down Cazorla's cross but Senna just failed to connect at the back post. In injury time Xavi intercepted a Metzelder clearance with a rainbow kick, he played one-twos with Xabi Alonso then Cazorla before over-hitting a final pass into Xabi Alonso. It would have been an incredible goal.

Germany actually started well and were the better team in the opening 20 minutes without creating a worthwhile chance. Once they fell behind Ballack and Frings, who were both clearly not fit, couldn't stop Spain's midfield from bossing the game. Ramos and Capdevilla castrated Germany's main threat i.e. Lahm and Schweinsteiger. Ramos has been off the charts in the knockout stages but Senna remains the teams key player. Whether Del Bosque can continue the success and more importantly maintain the spirit within the camp remains to be seen.

Ballack is the premier choker of this era. He lost the Bundesliga, Champions League, German Cup and World Cup in 2002 and repeated that feat this year - Premier League, Champions League, Carling Cup and now European Championships. Is there a major trophy he hasn't lost? Germany are crying out for a support striker. They reached the World Cup final in 2002, World Cup semi-finals in 2006 and the European Championship finals in 2008. Imagine what they would do with some great players?

Lehmann claimed the game was fixed because the 'biased' Rosetti (his words) didn't send off Silva for a 'headbutt' on Podolski. In fact he claimed the refs were biased in all the three finals he's played in recently. Class.

There were no outstanding teams but there were teams that played outstanding football. Spain were the most consistent and worthy winners. They even won with midgets in midfield! Congratulations.

Attendance : 51,428
Assist : Xavi