44 Years Of Choking, Beautifully Erased

Kudos to Spain, as La Furia Roja won the European Championship, without losing or tying once, by thoroughly defeating Germany (well, as thorough as a 1-nil victory can be) despite these factors:

1) The atrocious refereeing of Roberto Rosetti. The ref ignored very chippy shots at the ankles by Germany’s captain Michael Ballack all through the match and only carded him after he and Spanish captain Iker Casillas were squabbling over the ref’s refusal to card Ballack for those chip shots. Ballack made it very, very easy to crack the old Swingers jokes when he got a gash on his head before halftime.

2) Their own coach. One could argue the old racist Luis Aragones plays a huge part in getting these players over the hump, and there’s something to be said for that. But vacillating for the whole time on where Cesc Fabregas would play and pulling Fernando Torres (who scored the game’s only goal) for Dani Guiza repeatedly was a serious gamble.

Regardless, the Spanish are champions, rightfully so — having been the best playing team throughout the tournament, not losing or drawing a game, being the only group winner to make it through the quarterfinals, etc. — and it could have been much, much worse for Germany, who came out and played completely uninspired out there. Ballack didn’t do much else outside of chip at ankles in ways that earn most people recruiting letters to play on Auburn’s O-line; Miroslav Klose was just denied time and time again, and the only player with any energy for them was Bastian “Pig Mounter” Schweinsteiger.

It’s a shame that Marcos Senna couldn’t finish the goal chance he had late, because he was really one of the big reasons Spain won. The defensive mid shut down both Andrei Arshavin and Ballack in the last two games. He, Sergio Ramos, Carles Puyol, Carlos Marchena, and Joan Capdevila kept the opposing attackers out of sorts — Klose was never in the game, Kiranyi was an ineffective sub, Gomez has been useless for the Germans — and proved that good defense doesn’t have to be at the expense of fun football. It would have been more fun if Torres’ first header off the post had gone in and Senna’s chance had too — it was really a 3 or 4 goal game couched in a 1-0 win.

It’s still good to see attacking football rewarded with a championship, even if the final game wasn’t that great overall.

Photo: Sascha Schuermann/AFP/Getty Images

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