Final preview: Germany v Spain

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After three weeks and 30 matches, now only two teams from 16 teams of Euro 2008, Spain and Germany, who face off in today's final at the Ernst Happel Stadium in Vienna for the European Championship title.

Both teams have battled their way through to get into the last two in one of the most memorable tournaments we have ever seen.

Germany is one of the biggest champions in football history, while Spain, despite being technically talented, is one of the biggest underachievers.

But they meet in today's final with Spain as the favored one.

'Footballing failures' and 'perennial underachievers' had become an almost permanent prefix with the Spanish side.

Before this tournament it had been 24 years since Spain progressed beyond the quarter-finals of a major international tournament.

This is just their third final, all of them in Euros, and have won only a single major title in Euro 1964 on their homeland.

They look a more complete side but each time they’ve come to a major tournaments, the tales of poor team spirit always appear to make an excuse for such a talented side consistent failure to achieve.

But Spain boss Luis Aragones believes that his side have now developed the mental strength to overcome make their hoodoo of major tournaments.

He insisted that his team have learnt from their 2006 World Cup disappointment when France beat them in the second round.

La Furia Roja have been the most entertaining team in the competition and will look to reproduce their neat short-passing game and possession football at the final.

Aragones' side have gone over 21 matches unbeaten and have been winning in their last 11 matches, with their latest being a 3-0 victory over Russia in the semi-final.

With David Villa almost certainly ruled out by injury, Aragones is likely to switch from the 4-4-2 formation they have used so effectively until now.

Villa, the leading goal scorer in the tournament with four goals, strained a muscle in his right thigh in the semi-final against the Russians.

It means they may go for the five-man midfield with Fernando Torres is set to be the lone striker.

Spain may be lamenting the absence of Villa but his absence could be a blessing in disguise with impressive-looking midfield as Cesc Fàbregas will start against Germany.

The Arsenal man began Euro 2008 struggling to take a place for himself in Spain's over-crowded midfield.

However, he became Spain's super-sub and most impressive player of the tournament.

Fàbregas is the youngest player ever in 70 years to represent Spain and also the youngest Spaniard to appear in major tournaments.

Today's final will be the last match for Aragones in charge of Spain as he will step down as their coach at the end of the tournament, and Vicente Del Bosque, winner of two league titles and two Champions Leagues in his four years reign with Real Madrid, will be taking over.

Meanwhile, big concern went through the German team as the influental captain Michael Ballack was rated as doubtful after straining his right calf in training.

Ballack missed training on Friday and was unable to join the eve-of-match session at the stadium in Vienna on Saturday.

Although the team flew to Vienna on Saturday afternoon, Ballack stayed behind at the team hotel for treatment and it is expected that he will have a late fitness test on Sunday to see whether he is able to play or not.

With 86 caps and 38 goals to his name, including two at Euro 2008, Ballack's absence would be a major blow to Germany's hopes of a fourth European title.

If Ballack fails to recover in time,coach Joachim Löw could choose Tim Borowski as a straight replacement or considering a major reshuffle of his midfield.

Ballack has never played in a major final for his country as he was ruled out to miss of the 2002 World Cup final against Brazil after picking up a second yellow card in the semi-final, and was part of the team that lost the 2006 World Cup semi-final to Italy.

Germany is the most successful team in the tournament's history with three trophies and are now in their sixth final, a team with the ability to save its best for the big stages.

They frequently struggle their way further than they seem to deserve, such as in 2002 when one of the worst German teams in the history reached the World Cup final.

Like Spain coach Aragones said 'Germany are Germany and they seem to win against whoever they play.'

Possible line-up
11Klose 8Xavi
13Ballack 9Fernando Torres 
17Mertesacker15Sergio Ramos
20Podolski 19Senna

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1 comment

Comment Author Avatar
June 30, 2008 11:32 AM Delete
So you bet on Spain? Cool! Now they won!

Torres made it.. Silva, Torres, ramos...sound like all the last names of my relatives! haha

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