Posts Tagged ‘Luis Aragonés’

Euro 2008 – 20 Pictures of the Spanish Triumph

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

By now, you’ve probably figured (i.e. me) likes pictures. Needless to say, I am a strong believer that “a powerful image can speak louder than a thousand words“.

So presenting to you, a selection of 20 images giving tribute to Spain’s Euro 2008 triumph in Sunday’s final.

Enjoy. And once again, ¡Viva España!

(Left picture) Spain's Raul Albiol and Carlos Marchena (R) celebrate after their Euro 2008 final soccer match victory over Germany at Ernst Happel stadium in Vienna, June 29, 2008. (REUTERS) (Center picture) Spain's Iker Casillas, right, celebrates with teammates Pepe Reina, left, and Andres Palop their side's 1-0 win at the end of the Euro 2008 final between Germany and Spain in the Ernst-Happel stadium in Vienna, Austria, Sunday, June 29, 2008, the last day of the European Soccer Championships in Austria and Switzerland. (AP Photo by Jon Super) (Right picture) Spain's David Villa and Pepe Reina (L) kiss the trophy after their Euro 2008 final soccer match victory over Germany at Ernst Happel stadium in Vienna, June 29, 2008. (REUTERS)


Euro 2008 FINAL – Germany 0-1 Spain, ¡Viva España! and Breathing Fully

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

Germany 0-1 Spain. The chokers are no more.

In a hard-fought but dominated battle in Vienna, La Selección wiped all of their historical fears and under-achieving inhibitions away: one swift movement (as swift as Fernando Torres‘s run behind Philipp Lahm, and swifter than his finishing touch over Jens Lehmann) to swipe the European Cup right from under Germany’s nose. A nose which was missing the essential contribution of their team captain tonight, an unrecognizable Michael Ballack who had opted to play -poorly- despite his recent muscular problems. However one has to wonder, whether even an in-form Ballack could have stopped Spain’s asphyxiating ball possession, superior technical display, and rendez-vous with destiny.

At the end of the night and 44 years after José Villalonga, Luis Aragonés became the second Spanish manager to lead La Furia Roja to an European title win. A title which, considering this month’s tournament as a whole, Spain deserved to win more than any other. ¡Viva España! indeed.

Note: I apologize for the lack of updates since Sunday. I’ve been on the move, getting ready to leave for 3 weeks’ vacation in Southern Italy and things have been very hectic. I’m currently in Italy now making final preparations, but expect the number of weekly articles to drop considerably during the month of July. I’ll still drop by to say hello though. :)

Euro 2008 - Germany 0-1 Spain

Euro 2008 gave its final verdict on Sunday night, and it fulfilled all expectations of style and betting odds: Spain beat Germany 1-0, thus earning their second ever European title after their 1964 triumph. Among the protagonists of the match a name stood above all others, namely a certain Fernando Torres who, by scoring in minute 33, became the match’s “pichichi” of sorts and a hero in the entire Iberian peninsula. Germany started the match well but quickly disappeared, unable of withstand the invincible power of Luis Aragonés’s men.

Jens Lehmann makes a save on Metzelder's deflectionGermany vs. Spain was a battle of playing styles, pressuring down the wings for the former and asphyxiating ball possession (almost to the point of nausea) for the latter, but it was also a battle of tactical choices. Those forced upon managers Joachim Löw and Luis Aragonés, being forced to deal with key injuries and to ponder on the alternatives. For the Nationalmannschaft, those doubts revolved around captain Michael Ballack (dealing with some muscular problems) and Thorsten Frings (suffering from a broken rib), both essential elements in the German chessboard. In the end, Löw decided to take the risk and fielded them both from the start. For La Selección, the real mind-scratcher was David Villa‘s absence: who was to replace Spain’s topscorer in the competition and more importantly, would he be able to do so with the same efficiency? Eventually, coach Aragonés decided to put his faith in young Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fàbregas, thus reverting his tactics to a one-striker (Torres) formation.

Doubts regarding Villa’s replacement must still have been rambling the Spanish minds however, because the start of the match was all in favour of Germany. Successful in cutting down the short passing game of their opponents, the Nationalmannschaft was exploiting the initial “fear” of the Spaniards by playing simple, direct football and it worked. In minute 3, a mistake by Sergio Ramos set up Miroslav Klose for a good chance, but Carles Puyol intervened just at the right time to defuse the situation. 6 minutes later Klose was once again at the heart of the action, setting up Hitzlsperger for a mid-range effort… wide. It was quite evident by now that Spain were having a tough time: Carlos Marchena was getting dizzy from all the 18-yard box action, all the while Philipp Lahm and Lukas Podolski were having a field day on the left wing, overlapping their runs to perfection.

Fernando Torres rises over Mertesacker to bang a powerful header onto the postIt was time for the boys in red to wake up and sound the charge. Andrés Iniesta decided to do just that in minute 14, as he got through on Germany’s left-wing and almost caused Christoph Metzelder to score an own goal. Jens Lehmann was vigilant. It was however the reaction Spain needed, and slowly (but surely) the balance of play shifted back in favor of Aragonés’s men. Efforts down the wings notably doubled in efficiency, particularly thanks to the pinpoint crossing accuracy of the players involved. In minute 23, Sergio Ramos delivered from the right side and found Fernando Torres on the second post, ready for a jumping header… onto the post! A great chance for Spain, followed just a second later by Capdevila’s follow-up effort… wide. Spain were back in command and loving it.

They undoubdtedly would love it even more in minute 33, when Fernando Torres got behind another good pass (low on the ground this time) and did not fail. Receiving from Fàbregas about 10-15 meters past the midfield line, the Liverpool striker burnt his marker (Lahm) with a burst of speed and finished with a delicate touch over the rushing-out keeper. 1-0 Spain.

Fernando Torres's chipped shot over Lehmann puts <i>La Selección</i> in the lead. 1-0 SpainSpain could have doubled their lead shortly after, but David Silva wasted a very good chance (served to him on a platter by Iniesta) with a rather difficult one-time volley. Numbers spoke very clearly however: Spain’s midfield line was making mincemeat of their German counterparts, and the slowness of the two central-backs (Metzelder and Mertesacker) was becoming all to apparent. As for Lahm, he may have provided the winning goal vs. Turkey but he was at fault on at least two of the Turkish tallies, and seemed in no better comfort in today’s match. It wasn’t too surprising to see him go at the end of the first half (on came Jansen).

Unfortunately for Germany, the substitution didn’t upset the match balance a whole lot and Spain unavoidably and relentlessly continued to press forward. Between minutes and 53 and 55, La Roja obtained three back-to-back chances (Xavi, Silva, Torres) that could have virtually put the game on ice, but lacked in accuracy or luck. Löw tried to instill some life in his team’s attack, substituting Hitzlsperger with Kevin Kuranyi, and it almost seemed to work: in minute 60, Michael Ballack (finally making a “real” appearance in this game) got behind a volley just inches wide of the post. Signs the Germans were still alive.

Spain's Iker Casillas rises to intercept a cross destined for Kevin KuranyiAragonés decided to go for safety, and replaced Fabregas’s playmaking with the interdiction ability of Xabi Alonso (shortly followed by Cazorla on for Silva). Ironically though, it was Spain once again to get very close to goal nº2, as Sergio Ramos slammed a powerful 67th minute diving header onto the crossbar and minutes later, a timely goal-line intervention of Frings prevented Iniesta’s howitzer from sending Spain into delirium. More changes ensued (Dani Güiza and Mario Gomez for Torres and Klose) and more chances for Spain on the counter: Marcos Senna was just one step too late to convert Güiza’s redirected header… the goal was wide open.

Fortunately for the boys in red, that chance would not come back to haunt them. Spain continued showcasing their mastery in ball possession, raising the “olé”s from the crowd and waiting for referee Roberto Rosetti (the only trace of Italy in the European final) to call full time. When that moment arrived, an entire nation could celebrate the break of a 44 year-long fast and start the “fiesta” all-nighter: Spain were champions of Euro 2008!


German Football Federation (DFB - Deutscher Fußball-Bund) GERMANY-SPAIN
[Match Highlights]
Real Federación Española de Fútbol
GOALSCORERS: 33’ F.Torres (S)
GERMANY (4-2-3-1): Lehmann – Friedrich, Mertesacker, Metzelder, Lahm (46’ Jansen) – Frings, Hitzlsperger (58’ Kuranyi) – Schweinsteiger, Ballack, Podolski – Klose (79’ Gomez). (bench: Enke, Adler, Fritz, Westermann, Rolfes, Neuville, Trochowski, Borowski, Odonkor). Coach: Löw.
SPAIN (4-1-4-1): Casillas – Sergio Ramos, Marchena, Puyol, Capdevila – Senna – Iniesta, Xavi, Fàbregas (63’ Xabi Alonso), Silva (66’ Cazorla) – F.Torres (88’ Güiza). (bench: Palop, Reina, Albiol, Navarro, Sergio Garçia, Arbeloa, Juanito, Villa, De la Red). Coach: Aragones.


Germany 0-1 Spain – MyVideo

Euro 2008 SEMI-FINALS – Russia 0-3 Spain, Could This Finally Be La Selección‘s Year?

Friday, June 27th, 2008

Russia 0-3 Spain. Well Italy didn’t go out for nothing at least. Yet.

The ever-famous (or infamous, I guess it depends where you stand) tournament-chokers really made a statement on Thursday night. Getting three goals past your opponent in a Euro Semi-Finals cannot be ignored, even if that opponent was modest Russia (who in spite of being modest, was one of the most attractive and surprising teams of this tournament). In particular, what was even more remarkable is that Spain scored three goals without conceding any, a feat which against the likes of Andrei Arshavin and Roman Pavlyuchenko was far from being a bookie’s favorite.

So ¡enhorabuena! to La Furia Roja, this Euro 2008 final vs. Germany promises to be a tough and exciting battle. The only snag for Spain is that they may have to do it without David Villa (picking up a muscle strain today).

Spain's Daniel Guiza, right, reacts with teammates Marcos Senna, left, Sergio Ramos, second left, and Carles Puyol after scoring the second goal during the semifinal match between Russia and Spain in Vienna, Austria, Thursday, June 26, 2008, at the Euro 2008 European Soccer Championships in Austria and Switzerland. Spain defeated Russia 3-0. (AP Photo by Sergey Ponomarev)

Euro 2008 - Russia 0-3 Spain

(From Gazzetta): VIENNA, 26 JUNE 2008 – A superb Spanish display sunk Russia on a very wet Thursday night, thanks to goals from Xavi, Güiza and Silva. Chants of “Viva España” rang around Vienna’s Ernst Happel stadium as Spanish fans witnessed their national side (who had gotten rid of Italy in the quarter-finals) first tame the Russians, and then finish them off in the second half with an incredible technical display. Hats off to “La Furia Roja” and their perfect team, epitomised by their slick movements and the individual genius of their stars. Cesc Fabregas was the key to the game as the young Arsenal genius came on in place of Villa in minute 35 and put all his class at the disposal of the team, namely in the shape of some sublime passing and two beautiful assists.

GAME OF CHESS – The wisdom of Luis Aragonés pitted against the enterprise of Guus Hiddink, or rather, Spain’s methodical school against Russia’s “mutant” one. Luis Aragones kept faith as always in his solid and fast 4-4-2 formation, which has earned the nickname of “windscreen wiper” in the Iberian peninsula (as it does away with anything in its path). Hiddink meanwhile may well be a mercenary, but when he puts his hands to the job he can certainly work miracles, and the Dutch tactician made only one unexpected change with regards to pre match predictions, preferring Ivan Saenko to Bilyaletdinov, who took his place up front beside Andrei Arshavin -Russia’s new prodigal son with a whole nation at his feet.

SKIRMISHES – Nerves got the better of Hiddink’s youngsters however, as the more experienced Spain attacked and pressed. On 6 minutes Fernando Torres turned well in the area and fired a shot at Igor Akinfeev, who let the ball slip out of his arms. Then again on 11 minutes David Villa fired a thunderbolt from outside the area, stinging the hands of Russia’s number one. The Russian alarm bells ringing. Hiddink was forced to raise his voice to reorganise his side and get them back into the game, and it seemed as Russia got the message when Roman Pavlyuchenko hit a well-struck free-kick from the edge of the area just over the bar (minute 16).

BALANCE – This was certainly not the same Russian side that annihilated Holland in the previous round, but Hiddink’s men did well to close their ranks and leave the opposition with limited space to exploit. Yuri Zhirkov’s tactical acumen provided Russia’s biggest threat as the fullback was given licence to push down the wing and instigate Russia’s attacks. Spain became less adventurous as the half progressed and also had a couple of close shaves. On 31 minutes, Pavlyuchenko had the Russian fans celebrating prematurely as Casillas just got a fingertip to the striker’s scorcher, only to send the ball agonisingly wide. On 34 minutes Villa picked up an injury and forced Aragonés to bring on Cesc Fabregas in replacement, and the Arsenal youngster immediately added quality to Spain’s play by positioning himself behind Torres.

Meanwhile, the rain was not showing any signs of relenting and made the players more heavy-legged, but this didn’t seem to affect the frequency of goalscoring opportunities. Indeed, on 35 minutes Pavlyuchenko controlled the ball with his chest just a couple of yards away from Casillas, but just as the Russian striker was preparing to shoot Carles Puyol managed to get a tackle in. Then it was Torres’s turn, as “El Niño” had Spanish fans on their feet through a clever dummy and shot in the area, only for Akinfeev to save the Liverpool striker’s effort.

DOWN WITH THE MASKS – After all the calculating and caution of the first half, the second half closed the door to such tactics: indeed, it only took 5 minutes past kick-off for Spain to open the score. Andrés Iniesta broke down the left and played in the perfect ball for Xavi, who drove an unsaveable shot past Akinfeev. 1-0 Spain.

Russia tried to reply by unleashing that high tempo of theirs, but in the process opened up space for the opposition to exploit and Torres came close to doubling his team’s lead, after some sublime passing between Silva and Fabregas. Conceding Xavi’s goal really had stunned the Russians. In the end in all came down to a question of experience, which Hiddink’s men were made to pay for their lack of. Diniyar Bilyaletdinov and Dmitriy Sychev came on for Semshov and Saenko, but not even fresh legs were enough for Russia as Spain now controlled the game and created chance after chance, taking full advantage of a weak and scared-looking Russia.

Spain also made a double substitution, with Dani Güiza and Xabi Alonso coming on for Torres and Xavi, thus giving fresh legs and power to the team. An explosive and lively Spain then proceeded to totally outclass the opposition, as Marcos Senna coordinated the midfield and the wingers revelled in the space afforded to them. Then came Guiza’s goal and Spain’s second, as Cesc Fabregas beautifully touched the ball on for the striker, who sent the Russians packing with a lob over the keeper. 2-0 Spain.

But Fabregas was not done yet. As if to say to Aragonés “You left me on the bench? Now I’ll show you!”, the Spanish youngster exploited a good Spanish counter-attack and played another perfect cross for David Silva, who completed the rout with a third. 3-0 Spain, and what a Spain, were thus in the Euro 2008 final.

Members of Spain's soccer team celebrate after their Euro 2008 semi-final soccer match victory over Russia at Ernst Happel stadium in Vienna, June 26, 2008. (REUTERS)


 Russian Football Union (Russian: Российский Футбольный Союз) RUSSIA-SPAIN
[Match Highlights]
Real Federación Española de Fútbol
GOALSCORERS: 50’ Xavi (S), 73’ Güiza (S), 82’ Silva (S).
RUSSIA (4-3-2-1): Akinfeev – Anyukov, Ignashevich, V. Berezutskiy, Zhirkov – Zyryanov, Semak, Semshov (56’ Bilyaletdinov) – Saenko (57’ Sychev), Arshavin – Pavlyuchenko. (bench: Gabulov, Malafeev, Yanabaev, Berezutski, Adamov, Ivanov, Shirokov, Bystrov). Coach: Hiddink.
SPAIN (4-4-2): Casillas – Ramos, Marchena, Puyol, Capdevila – Iniesta, Senna, Xavi (69’ Xabi Alonso), Silva – Villa (34’ Fàbregas), F.Torres (69’Güiza). (bench: Palop, Reina, Albiol, F.Navarro, Cazorla, Sergio Garçia, Arbeloa, Juanito, De la Red). Coach: Aragones.


Russia 0-3 Spain – MyVideo

Euro 2008 – Spain vs. Italy Preview: Furia Roja & Azzurri in a Classic Red vs. Blue Encounter

Saturday, June 21st, 2008

Bring out the castanets and wake up the opera singers: on Sunday, Spain and Italy will step onto Vienna’s Ernst Happel stadium ready to dance, and it will surely be a very hot-blooded affair.

Two teams with common linguistical heritage but radically different styles of play, the Azzurri and La Furia Roja have also arrived at Euro 2008′s Quarter-Finals following opposite routes. Italy (as we all know) had a very rocky start in its first two games vs. Netherlands and vs. Romania, but finally picked up the pace vs. France thus grabbing second spot in group C on the last matchday. Spain on the other hand comfortably qualified for the next round on matchday 2, and could even afford to field its reserve team in the final match vs. Greece (winning it with a score of 2-1). Compared to the Italians therefore, the Spaniards have enjoyed an additional 2-3 days of rest in order to prepare for Sunday, and also have the added advantage of not having any injured/suspended players.

Rest however, did not help the Netherlands much vs. Russia today and teams should always be careful in starting too strongly in a competition. Indeed, if there is one thing that can be said of each of the current Euro 2008 Semi-finalists (Germany, Turkey, and Russia) is that all of them have lost one match in the group stage. So the question is: will Spain break this trend by being the first Semi-Finalist with a perfect record, or will Italy be the 4th team to complete this “we’re not perfect but we get the job done” picture?

Pre-Match Statistics

• Competitive meetings between the two southern European giants have been few and far between, but Spain have yet to beat Italy in five attempts.
• The most high-profile encounter took place at the 1994 World Cup, where Italy controversially won 2-1 in Boston courtesy of a late winning goal from star player Roberto Baggio. For the Spaniards however, that match is mostly remembered due to an in-game incident (not seen by the referee) during which Italian defender Mauro Tassotti elbowed Spanish midfielder Luis Enrique, fracturing his nose. Tassotti received an 8-match ban for his infraction, but at that point Spain were already out of the tournament and couldn’t care less.
Gianluca Vialli scored the only goal of the game when the two teams last met at the EURO Championship finals, in 1988 at Frankfurt’s Waldstadion.
• The most recent encounter ended 1-0 for Spain in Elche on 26.03.2008 (full report here on mCalcio) thanks to substitute David Villa’s goal twelve minutes from time. The previous meeting took place on 28.04.2004, with Fernando Torres opening the scoring for Spain and Christian Vieri equalising for Italy.
• Spain have not beaten Italy in a competitive match since the 1920 Antwerp Olympics in Belgium. That was 88 years ago.


Head-to-head Spain vs. Italy

Euro Championship
World Cup

Meetings in official competitions
Boston (USA)
World Cup (Quarter-final)
Italy – Spain
Frankfurt (GER)
EURO (Group stage)
Italy – Spain
Milan (ITA)
EURO (Group stage)
Spain – Italy
Florence (ITA)
World Cup (QF replay)
Spain – Italy
Florence (ITA)
World Cup (Quarter-final)
Spain – Italy



 Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio

(From Gazzetta and La Repubblica ): The “Alberto Aquilani” stock is on the rise again at Casa Azzurri.

Early reports (from the closed doors training session of Saturday) initially seemed to suggest that, despite Andrea Pirlo’s one match of suspension, the Roma midfielder would once again miss out on playing a lead role at Euro 2008. This in spite of the fact that on paper, and among the roster of 23 players available to coach Roberto Donadoni (well, 22 players now after Andrea Barzagli’s injury), Aquilani is the one with skills & playing characteristics closest to the AC Milan playmaker: accurate and unpredictable passing ability, great ball control, and a fairly good capacity at interdiction.

On the downside however, the Roma midfielder’s “cons” aren’t to be understimated: less experience, less personality perhaps, and the fact that in order to prevent Spain from pushing the “lethal-one-touch-passing” button too early, Italy will need to be very aggressive. Something over which Roberto Donadoni will undoubtedly ponder some more, before he makes his final decision on the day of the match. “Aquilani is on the rise” said Donadoni. “He is working hard just like everyone else, be it players or staff, and he has what it takes to be there tomorrow. He is one of the many options we have and in which our players are fully confident in.”

In other words (and much to Donadoni’s habit): we shall see later. Tactically however, Italy’s midfield should be the only real issue left for the anti-Spain line-up. With the now fully estblished Zambrotta-Chiellini-Panucci-Grosso backline (not that there are many alternatives) and the likely confirmation of the Cassano-Toni duo up front, the Italian coach can focus on deciding who to pick in the middle. The likely certainties: Daniele De Rossi (who has probably clinched a starting spot till the end, should Italy advance) and Massimo Ambrosini (a natural substitute for suspended Gennaro Gattuso). Simone Perrotta, whose work against France in an offensive playmaking role was appreciated by Donadoni, should also likely be confirmed. So it basically comes down to that third central midfielder role: Aquilani or Camoranesi? Odds are Donadoni will be pointing towards the former..


Zambrotta, Panucci, Chiellini, Grosso
Aquilani (or Camoranesi), De Rossi, Ambrosini
Toni, Cassano


But speaking of Donadoni, who knows how many times he must have relived his Azzurri adventure during these 2-3 weeks of Euro 2008. It is a journey to which the Italian coach has given “body and soul” as he says, and now has a great chance to show everyone what he is made of. After the match against France, his dream is play matador against Spain (matar means “to kill” in Spanish) but to do that, he will need a determination that has never been seen before.

Spain,” Donadoni explained in his Saturday press conference, “are a strong team with great individual players. They have excellent players who haven’t achieved the same results in the national side as with their respective clubs. That’s why they will be very hungry to win.” These words have a logical conclusion: “We need to play with the same will they have and we must be as hungry to win as they are.” Thus, it will be necessary to focus. It will be necessary to pay very close attention and play well. Above all: it will be necessary to score.

When talking about scoring, one can only think of Luca Toni and his unlucky streak of missed chances (the Bayern giant played 415 minutes of draught at Euro 2008 so far). “I don’t care about statistics. I care about concrete results,” says the Italian coach. “Obviously, I hope he scores tomorrow because it’s always important for a striker to score goals; but as far as I’m concerned Luca pulled a double against France: he won the penalty and Abidal’s expulsion.”

In sum, Donadoni has the task to maintain the group united, despite the daily attacks from the critics. He has been many times in a “last resort” situation; he defended himself and continues to do so. “I don’t feel as if I had been run over by a train,” he emphasises. “Italy arrived to this point after having won well against France.” Heavenly words. And he ends the press conference with a message that highlights and builds on his humility, as if he wanted to apologize to someone: “Regardless of tomorrow’s score, our work done here should be valued as a whole: and I believe that together with my staff, we have given body and soul: I have done what was humanly possible. And to the fans, I ask this: to believe in what we have done. We must be a united front.”


(From La Repubblica and Luis Aragones’ men are on fire: roaring into the last eight after finishing top of Group D with maximum points, the Spaniards have scored 8 goals in 3 games and will go into this match as many people’s favourites to progress to the semi-finals. On top of their good start to Euro 2008, Spain have also won all seven of their fixtures this year, including pre-Euro warm-up wins against France, USA, Peru, and Italy themselves.

However, while Spain are certainly in better form than Italy, they have a dreadful competitive record against their opponents whom they have not managed to beat since the 1920 Summer Olympics at Antwerp. Also, Spain’s very good Euro 2008 debut bears the inevitable question: “will Spain once again flop when it really matters“? We have seen this scenario so many times in the past where La Selección have made a flying start to a major tournament, only to then lose their nerve once it gets to a big knockout game. This was the case at the last World Cup, when the team played some delightful football in the group stages, only to then lose 3-1 to France in the second round.

Tactically, before the tournament began Spain coach Luis Aragonés experimented with 4-1-4-1 in an attempt to squeeze all his midfield talent on to the pitch, but later settled on a 4-1-3-2 formation. Spain’s recent performances indicate this was a good choice. Keeper Iker Casillas sets the tone for a well-drilled unit where Carles Puyol is the inspirational presence. He is a great reader of the game and massively committed but he and partner Carlos Marchena can expect an aerial examination from Luca Toni.

Spain have an embarrassment of riches in midfield with half a dozen fast-moving, neat-passing players who are virtually interchangeable. Marcos Senna is a crafty interdictor for Spain who offers a mobile screen in front of the back four, though Xabi Alonso is pressing for a place after an excellent display against Greece. Finally, Spain have a very mobile front duo in David Villa (4 goals from 2 games so far) and Fernando Torres, two players complementing each other perfectly: Torres is the athlete who passes defenders with ease and can hit the byline like a winger, while Villa is more of a predator but also dangerous with free kicks.

Based on Spain’s tactical display so far, this should be their expected formation for Sunday:


Ramos, Puyol, Marchena, Capdevila
Iniesta, Xavi, Silva
Villa, Torres


To mark the importance of Sunday’s match vs. Italy (not only in sporting terms but also political) Spain’s own king Juan Carlos will be attending, accompanied by his companion Queen Sofia. José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, the Spanish Prime Minister, also set the tone yesterday when he urged the Spanish team to “break the curse” of its “lack of self-confidence” and predicted his nation’s victory by a score of 3-2.

Spain’s players however, despite maintaing their confidence, know this will not be an easy match. “Spain did well in the group stage, but we are nonetheless the underdogs here“. said Real Madrid and Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas. “Italy are the favorites in light of their football history, and the fact they have reached more finals and won more titles than Spain. Spain have only won one European championship and that was a really long time ago. We must continue with the spirit and play demonstrated so far, because Italy will always be Italy“.

Strangely, despite being one of his brothers-in-arms (bad pun intended), Casillas doesn’t rate Gigi Buffon as the number 1 player of the Azzurri (which soon-to-be Juventus teammate Xabi Alonso defined as “one of the best goalkeepers in the world, if not the best”). Instead (and perhaps expectedly, since his job is to prevent the ball from entering the net), he points the finger a Luca Toni, whose goal drought has become an obsession for the Spanish media, deeply convinced that LucaBomber will “wake up” precisely against Spain. “We will have to be very careful on set pieces, because Toni is very tall. If we manage to block him, we will be on the right track to get rid of our quarter-final curse once and for all” concluded the Spanish nº1.


Spain vs. Italy, kick-off time 20:45 CET




Spain’s Euro 2008 Roster – 23 Players, No Raúl

Monday, May 19th, 2008

No Maniche for Portugal, and no Raúl for Spain. Earlier this week, La Furia Roja manager Luis Aragonés released his final List of 23 who will be travelling to SwissAustria in June and as expected, Real Madrid’s captain was not selected. The feud between Aragonés and Raúl has been going on for quite some time now, and not even Raúl’s return to form these recent years could convince the Spanish manager to bring him back. 

Other notable absentees are Real Madrid’s Guti and Valencia’s Joaquín. This year’s pichichi on the other hand (Mallorca’s Daniel Guiza) earned his call-up through boatloads of goals, and will participate in the Euro expedition.

If you want to further discuss the selections, check out’s forum thread here.

Here’s the full list:


Goalkeepers: Club:
Iker Casillas Real Madrid
José Manuel Reina Liverpool
Andrés Palop Sevilla
Sergio Ramos Real Madrid
Carles Puyol Barcelona
Juanito Betis
Álvaro Arbeloa Liverpool
Fernando Navarro Mallorca
Raúl Albiol Valencia
Carlos Marchena Valencia
Joan Capdevila Villarreal
Cesc Fàbregas Arsenal
Andrés Iniesta Barcelona
Xavi Hernandez Barcelona
David Silva Valencia
Santiago Cazorla Villareal
Rubén de La Red Getafe
Xabi Alonso Liverpool
Marcos Senna Villareal
David Villa Valencia
Sergio Garcia Zaragoza
Fernando Torres Liverpool
Daniel Güiza Mallorca