Monday, June 30, 2008
Justice: La furia Espanola
Call it premonition. Call it due date. Call it glory. Call it Iberian. When in mid-May I was asked whom I thought would be the likely winner for Euro 2008 I innocently answered Spain or Portugal. I was going for my Iberian roots and had a fool's hope for those teams, especially Spain. I was hoping it wouldn't be France or Italy or Germany.
When it came time to decide I went with Spain because they have an amazing team from the backline to the forwards. Casillas is a top notch goalkeeper and surely has surpassed Buffon to be the reigning number 1. Puyol has the mastery at the back with years of experience and a knack for frustrating forwards. Capdevila and Sergio Ramos always clean up their act by moving forward and stealing the scene from the attacking line while Marchena is quite but effective. Marcos Senna stole the scene more than once in the tournament and silenced critics and fans alike that questioned his allegiance and place in the team for being Brazilian-born. Silva did a nice job cleaning up the messes in the midfield and put together a good number of tikitaka plays. Xavi is a master of the midfield and proved it by snatching a key goal against Russia while Iniesta proved why he's in one of football's most prodigious teams (FCB). Fernando Torres pulled a Zinedine Zidane (not the headbut) and scored in the final when he was most needed (ZIdane scored twice in the 98 final after not scoring once in any game prior to that). David Villa made soccer look pretty and proved why when I played the simulated final on Wii all the scores came from him. Alas, he got injured and had to miss the final. Xavi (Shabby for the spanish-impaired) Alonso came in when necessary as did Guiza, both acting admirably and timely.
Loew's Germany is a very strong, very aggressive, very dominant and physical side that rekindled the Germany of old with the play of old with Ballack and Shweinsteiger. After having competed in 5 finals and won 3 most were siding with history to crown them champs. Klose and Podolski (both Polish, I might add) were the only other bright stars and only at certain points in different games. The rest of the bunch had good games but they did not light it up on the pitch, save for Lahm against Turkey. Feel free to disagree with me here. I was a German fan for a very long time and still cheer for them against most opponents. The Spaniards saw past the history and the 12th man and looked at the flesh and bone of the German players on the pitch at Wien. That is why Spain won. They convinced themselves that they could.
Sore losers? France is an aging side and Ribery and Co. need to regroup if they want to make it to South Africa. This should be the end of the line for Vieira, Anelka, Thuram, Makalele, among others. Henry still has a couple more years in him so don't count him out yet.
Italy was dreadful except against France. Their style of play tends to be boring to me and many other critics out there.
Holland payed the price for peaking too early and Russia dismantled Van Basten's program. Practice makes perfect and this side can handle most teams out there.
Portugal was a letdown. It's defense needs a lot of help because Deco, Cristiano Ronaldo and their attacking crew can't win a game if the other team can breeze through their defense.
Turkey showed amazing courage and had me cheering and chanting for them in every game. Keep up the good work. Same goes to Russia. Maybe the killer instinct of the Soviet predecessors can be resurrected and we can stop attributing USSR's success to players from the Ukraine and other soviet states.
Speaking of... Ukraine/Poland is next in 2012. The mini world cup (minus Brazil and Argentina) awaits its next chapter. As I say to people out there... when it comes time for Euro, all bets are off. That's why only two teams have won it more than once (Germany and France) and why teams like Greece and Denmark can claim the crown at times. Now it's world cup qualifying time. Let the games begin!