Spain have been characterized as the favorites heading into the final of Euro 2008 on Sunday against Germany. But have their opponents been strong teams?
In the group stages, Spain breezed through winning all three of their games against Greece (2-1), Sweden (2-1), and Russia (4-1).
Greece certainly did not show they were past champions of this tournament, as they couldn't even manage to gain a point in the competition, and played boring football.
Against Sweden it took an extra-time strike from David Villa to win the match.
The games against Russia would help show that Spain are the favorites after they beat them two times by three-goal margins.
While Russia previously defeated Holland who were the favorites after the group stage, the Dutch didn't play as well as in the group stage in the playoffs. They showed no fight or urgency against Russia, who beat them by two goals in extra time.
The Germans, on the other hand, beat a strong competitor in Portugal, and then went on to beat a surprise Turkish team, who spoiled the hopes of the Czech Republic, Croatia, and Switzerland.
While the Germans have showed some weaknesses in their play, they have managed to pull through every situation that they needed to. Ballack has shown how valuable he is to their team, coming up big when needed. Their experience will be of great help for the Germans—they have a total of 899 total caps against Spain's 601.
Spain have looked very strong with many dominate performances. But, I don't remember people predicting that Russia or any of Spain's opponents could win the trophy. They won the games that they should have won.
Spain will be without the leading goal scorer of the tournament David Villa. The weight will be on Fernando Torres to pull his team to victory, but he has had a tough time making the most of his many chances. Coach Luis Aragones has shown his displeasure with Torres by substituting him early in the second half multiple times.
Both teams were considered favorites at some point in the tournament by the media—Germany before it started, and Spain currently holding it. To me, it appears like it has shaped up to be a pretty even match. Germany hasn't showed perfect form, while Spain hasn't really played a top notch country.