Monday, June 30, 2008

Saluda el campeóns (I'm no good at Spanish grammar...)

This tournament was fantastic... unfortunately the final did not fall into the same category. There were spells where the game was superb, but in my mind it was overshadowed by the absolute mediocrity of Germany.

Mertesacker was, for me, the absolute worst man on the pitch yesterday. I've never before seen such wayward passing, careless fouling, poor coverage and overall terrible defending from any center-back at the international level. His give-away at the end of the game almost definitively crushed any German hopes for a comeback. He was a morale-killer, and not much use otherwise.

That said, the rest of Germany was horrible too. There was nothing in the way of sight or vision in the passing, Spain didn't have to defend all that much because Germany's attacks petered themselves out. Ballack and Klose showed real bottle in continuing to play after recieving some pretty nasty whacks in the course of play (whoever the Spanish fella who put his foot into Klose's groin should have been sent off). Lehmann showed his skills, he was brilliant in the final. The Spanish could easily have had three or four goals, but for Lehmann.

I've had enough of people slagging off Torres' goal. The fact that he managed to get gump side of Lahm was nothing short of brilliant attacking football. His rise from the youth side at Atletico Madrid has been remarkable, and he is beginning to use his size and strength to top off his skill. That goal was the perfect example of all three put into harmony. Wonderful stuff.

Now, on to a more positive note than this post's direction has been.

The tournament - beyond comparison. This was, hands down, the best international football tournament I have ever seen. Now, it might have something to do with the fact that I was a "neutral spectator" for the first time in my life, and cast equal and unbiased attention on what was happening.

The entertainment level was incredibly high. As much as I disliked the Turks, I have to rescind my argument that they reduced the tournament's entertainment. They may have been rubbish, but they kept your attention right up to the final whistle. Most teams opted for fast, attacking football and it really reflected well on the entire affair. All the games were played in very good spirits, very competitive, but the players held a certain level of respect for one-another that you don't see very often in modern sports. It was refreshing!

Good on the Spanish for finally winning something! They put us all right off of our predictions (as did most of the tournament). 2007 may have been Year of the Dog, but I dub 2008 Year of the Underdog.

What gives me further hope: it took 44 years for Spain to win their second tournament. Therefore, by this logic, England will win the next World Cup. You heard it here first, folks.

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