Euro 2008 Final: Previewing Spain vs. Germany

Tim AndersonCorrespondent IJune 28, 2008

And then there were two.

The old hands and the new conquistadors. While everyone was expecting Germany to scrape through somehow, Spain are on the brink of something special.

Perhaps partly inspired by Greece’s unlikely win in 2004, the Spanish have the momentum behind them going into the final, even if it is against the sports greatest deceivers, Germany.

How Germany have made it through is incredible. When Ballack was asked after the Turkey game what got them through, he revealed it was their "winning mentality."

Something everyone has known for a long time and has seen in every major tournament year in and year out. While Ballack holds the attention, others have quietly added their pieces to the matches.

They are packed with enough talent to turn crucial moments as Ballack, Lahm, and Schweinsteiger have shown. But inept performances started the rumours again. Surely they were not capable of getting close. But here they are again.

The red and yellow army are the better team though.

Their turning point was Italy. Fabregas’ winning penalty is the absolutely pivotal moment in the tournament. Off the back of their World Cup pinnacle, Italy would have believed that fortune was smiling on them again.

Buffon’s amazing save to keep them alive against Romania had reignited their dream after disappointing displays against France (although winning) and the Netherlands. They were needing inspiration when Buffon stepped up and saved against Romania.

With history on their side they take on a Spanish team they hadn’t lost to in a major tournament sine 1920. Nothing like a win brings confidence to a side, and Italy were lurking like a dark cloud over the Spanish.

In contrast nobody would have been surprised or even really upset if Spain had lost. They have fallen at crucial stages in so many tournaments, another on the list would have barely warranted an examination.

The Spanish must have felt a millstone of past failures around their necks when facing the Italians. But the Spanish are different this year.

Aragones has pulled master stroke after masterstroke, leaving out the talismanic Real captain Raul, a calculated but massive difference over previous squads.

Aragones realised that keeping a player with such a strong character with a legacy of past failures behind him would take the focus away from the team as a whole. He noted that although talent has been in abundance, unity, had been missing.

Villa has scored the goals but Torres is the player with enough of a talismanic presence to bring balance to the side. He is neither Barcelona or Madrid so there is less controversy.

The team looks happy, they look united, and while Raul could bring negativity, success with Torres seems to bring the team closer with more belief and greater purpose.

Villa’s hat trick finished with him running straight to Torres after scoring in the opening game. Can you imagine Raul doing the same?

As much a certainty as it may look, Spain winning is not. If we know one thing is certain in football, it can sometimes be the ugly sister to a Cinderella story, just ask Greece.