Posts Tagged ‘Spain’

FIFA Futsal World Cup 2008 – Five-A-Side Football Kicks Off in Brazil

Saturday, October 4th, 2008

Futsal, FIFA’s officially sanctioned version of Five-a-side football, may not be as widespread (or receive as much TV coverage) as the 11 vs. 11 “real thing”, but its popularity is very much on the rise. A popularity which can only grow further, with the 6th edition of the FIFA Futsal World Cup kicking off last Tuesday.

As title favorites Brazil, Spain, Argentina, Italy, and Portugal step onto the synthetic turf of Nilson Nelson Gymnasium and Ginásio do Maracanãzinho (the tournament’s two venues in the cities of Brasília and Rio de Janeiro), all eyes will be directed towards the soccer state for the biggest indoor footy showdown of the year.
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Soccer “Four Nations” Tournament 2009: An Idea for France, Italy, Spain, and Germany (and maybe England)…

Saturday, September 20th, 2008

You know the Rugby Six nations Championship? The one involving the England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales rugby national teams and taking place every year?

Well, the French Football Federation (FFF) and Club France 2010 (the management company taking care of all things Les Bleus till the 2010 World Cup) have had this crazy idea: why not do the same thing for soccer? And make it a regular occurrence?

Enter the Four Nations Soccer tournament, featuring France, Spain, Italy, and Germany (and potentially England as well).

It’s not the first time France has had this sort of initiative: remember the Tournoi de France back in 1997? Held shortly before the France 98 World Cup, this 4-Team tournament reunited France, England, Brazil and Italy for some very good footy showdowns. It’s in this tournament that Roberto Carlos scored his famous insane-bending free-kick.

Anyways, “there isn’t a concrete project as of yet, just an ideasays FFF president Jean-Pierre Escalettes. “But it would perfect to exploit the free period between June 6 and 10, as all of these 4 nations have no international fixtures during that time” he added. “It’s such a shame that the big European nations face each other so rarely. If we can change that we should. The tournament could then be transformed into a regular fixture, to take place in France (or another European country) every year or ever two years“.

For Spain and Italy, who will be involved in the FIFA Confederations Cup 2009 from June 14 to 18, this would also be a perfect opportunity to get some pre-tournament training/test-matches…

What do you think? Good idea? Or do we already have too many soccer tournaments lying around?

Euro 2008 – 20 Pictures of the Spanish Triumph

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

By now, you’ve probably figured mCalcio.com (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!
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(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)

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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!

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German Football Federation (DFB - Deutscher Fußball-Bund) GERMANY-SPAIN
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[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.

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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)

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 Russian Football Union (Russian: Российский Футбольный Союз) RUSSIA-SPAIN
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[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.

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Russia 0-3 Spain – MyVideo