Saturday, June 28, 2008

Euro 2008 Final Preview

My two favourite teams in the tournament are also the last ones standing, which makes this simultaneously my dream final and a nightmare. I'll be cheering for Germany tomorrow -- I'm half German, and my ancestors would probably rise up to beat me about the head with a beer stein if I didn't -- but I'm sure that Spain will do their best to test my loyalties with their pretty pretty football.

The prevailing opinion seems to be that Spain should win, but I really don't know what to predict. This German team seem to be more than the sum of their parts; Spain, in the past, have been less, but this time they may finally be living up to their talent. Spain have certainly been the best team overall, but let's not forget that You Can Never Count Out The Germans.

Iker Casillas versus Jens Lehmann: It's no contest, really. Saint Iker burnished his halo even more in the quarter-final penalty shootout against Italy, whereas Lehmann looked pretty shaky against Turkey and was arguably at fault for both their goals. I'd expect lots of shots from the Spanish team.

Spain's back four is supposedly their weakness, but they've only given up three goals all tournament. Carles Puyol has been excellent and Sergio Ramos seems to have remembered that he's a defender, not a striker, while Carlos Marchena and Joan Capdevilla have done their jobs well. But they could be vulnerable to set-pieces and crosses, which have led to a lot of Germany's goals. Germany, on the other hand, have been rather porous at the back, with only Philipp Lahm really standing out -- and that not always for the right reasons. Spain should be looking to run at their fullbacks, as Turkey did so effectively.

Two contrasting styles in midfield: Spain's short, fluid tiki-taka passing, versus German's more direct, robust style. Spain has a similarly mobile midfield to the other teams that have caused Germany trouble (like Croatia), with players interchanging positions and attacking from all angles. Germany will have to be disciplined to contain them. The Germans will also try to use their physical advantage, as they did against Portugal, to win the ball and then break quickly. Spain prefer to hold onto possession and pass the ball around in their opponents' half, but their slow buildup means that they're not necessarily going to commit people forward too hastily. It should be a very interesting battle.

Top scorer David Villa will almost certainly miss the final with an injury, which means Fernando Torres will play up front on his own. Torres hasn't had the greatest tournament, unfortunately. I think he's played well, but the goals just aren't coming, possibly because he's been adjusting to the Spanish style after a year in the Premier League. But he's still the kind of player who can change a game in a moment. Miroslav Klose isn't a world-class striker the way Torres is, but he's got a good track record of scoring in big games for his country.

Predicted lineups
Germany: Lehmann; Friedrich, Metzelder, Mertesacker, Lahm; Schweinsteiger, Frings, Ballack, Hitzlsperger, Podolski; Klose

Spain: Casillas; Ramos, Puyol, Marchena, Capdevilla; Iniesta, Fabregas, Senna, Xavi, Silva; Torres


Sujan said...

Germany is going to struggle for the final postion of winning Euro cup. Spain is not going to make it ay. Hope Spain plays well.

Watch LIVE streaming Euro 2008 finals GERMANY VS SPAIN on: football LIVE site of Euro 2008

goalcentre said...

Everybody seems to favor Spain after their convincing performance against Russia. I will personally pick Germany for the Championship because of their big match experience. The Germans always do well when they are overlooked! :)

Anonymous said...

"You Can Never Count Out The Germans."

As before. Yes you can.

Anonymous said...

Viva Espania!

Anonymous said...

Love your column. Thank you!
Wondering, what was your take on the Toronto FC vs. Whitecaps game on Canada Day? An exciting game and were it not for strong goalkeeping on Vancouver's end, TFC may have slughtered them. Sigh.
Question: should Mo try to recruit Martin Nash...?

Murtaza Malik said...

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