It’s time to end Spain’s reign in Europe
Spanish players celebrate at the end of the penalty shoot out. AFP PHOTO / DAMIEN MEYER
It is not often that Germany goes into a major tournament as a popular underdog. But if the three-time European champion reaches the Euro 2012 final against Spain in Kiev, there will be plenty of fans cheering for a German win.
Naturally, if Germany progress to the final in Ukraine’s impressively rebuilt Olimpiyskiy Stadium, it’s because they’ll have beaten Italy overnight.
But even if it’s the Azzurri who take on defending World and European champions Spain, could anyone begrudge neutral fans for hoping to see a different name on the trophy?
After all, Spain could only manage a 1-1 draw with Italy during the group stage of the tournament and needed penalties to see off Portugal in their all-Iberian semi-final.
They might be the kings of possession football but the Spaniards haven’t exactly blown their opponents out of the water on their eastern European sojourn.
Italy have been their usual functional selves and were largely the better team in their quarter-final shoot-out win over England, but perhaps the most attacking side left in the tournament are Germany.
They’ve been an overtly attacking side since the World Cup in 2006 – a tournament in which Germany’s attractive style so readily pleased fans in the host nation.
Much was made then of Germany’s multicultural line-up but to anyone who has spent time in the country, the fact die Mannschaft has such a multi-ethnic composition comes as no surprise.
It’s more the fact Jögi Low has his team in sparkling attacking form which should give Spain coach Vicente del Bosque cause for concern, not least because Germany has so many interchangeable attacking weapons.
Mario Gomez might be their top scorer at the time of writing – ironically he also holds Spanish citizenship – but six other players had got on the scoresheet before Germany’s semi-final.
Some, like new Borussia Dortmund signing Marco Reus, are seen as the future of German football while others such as Arsenal-bound Lukas Podolski have been long-term mainstays of Low’s side.
And if they can get past an Italy side which kept clean sheets against the Republic of Ireland and England, Germany’s multi-faceted and oft-varying line-up may just have the weaponry to unlock a Spanish defence missing the lion-hearted Carles Puyol.
Whoever reaches the final, it will thankfully be screened on free-to-air TV on SBS after much of the tournament was hidden away on Setanta.
Pay TV is one thing but being forced to fork out extra for the Irish station is far from an ideal scenario for Australian football fans.
Maybe I’m just being sour because Setanta have ended their J. League coverage, but having being blown away by a Euro ’96 covered memorably on free-to-air, I’ve been largely underwhelmed by every European Championship ever since.
That’s partly because I now pay most of my attention to Socceroos and A-League fixtures, anyway.
Many Australians have ties with European countries – although personally I’m not one of them – but the more discussion there is surrounding the A-League and Australian football matters, the less I’m interested in what’s going on in Europe.
That said, I’ll still be tuning in to the European final and with no disrespect to Spanish fans, I hope to see someone other than Iker Casillas lift the trophy come Monday morning.
Budweiser Hosts the FIFA World Cup Draw: London
On December 6th football fans come together for the first major moment of the 2014 World Cup: the final draw. In five cities around the world, Budweiser hosted local community events around the World Cup Draw to reveal the fans' experience of this important night.
Mike Tuckerman is a Sydney-born journalist and lifelong football fan. After lengthy stints watching the beautiful game in Germany and Japan, he has settled in Brisbane and has been a Roar columnist since December 2008. Follow Mike on twitter @Mike_Tuckerman
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