Saturday, June 28, 2008

Euro 2008: Russia 0:3 Spain

Spain won this one going away. Not even close. Throughout the tournament, Spain has played a quick-passing, ball control offense, but has seemingly struggled to finish chances (this strikes me as a bit odd, since Spain scored a decent 10 goals in 5 matches, but hey, what do I know). This time, at least in the second half, they kept possession and scored goals.

Except for an occasional dangerous shot here or there, Russia didn't even show up. I thought the Spanish defense did a great job neutralizing Arshavin -- he was a non-factor for most of the match. I think we underestimate the tenacity of Puyol and the rest of the Spanish defenders, because we are so mesmerized by Spain's classy attacking style. Spain outshot Russia 18-6, and in shots-on-goal it was 11-1. Total domination.

The only black spot was the first half injury to David Villa, the tournament's leading scorer. He's apparently out for the final (as, it is rumored, is the German captain Ballack). But the Spanish side is so deep that it probably won't matter that much. They could go to either Fabregas or Guiza (who redeemed his mediocre performance against Italy with a much better one against Russia). My fear is that Aragones goes to a 4-5-1 with Fabregas in attacking midfield and Torres as the lone striker -- I think he'd be better off playing the 4-4-2 that got them to the finals in the first place. I don't think Torres can function well in the 4-5-1.

So, on to the dream final, with the two pre-tournament favorites. I really hope that Spain can beat the smug, dreary Germans. From what we've seen so far, I think it's very possible. They have to score first -- they don't want to be chasing against the Germans. If they stay in their game, play possession, and don't concede free kicks (where the German advantage in the air will come into play), they should be fine.

This match needs an early goal to open it up -- I have a suspicion that if we don't get that early goal we may be in for another match like the Spain-Italy quarter-final, with Spain attacking but not scoring, and Germany absorbing pressure and trying to get a long ball to Klose or Podolski on the counter. I just hope not. Spain 2, Germany 1, in regulation.


wolfteam hacks said...

I guess they weren't completely without quality outside Europe after all, huh?

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