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I am continuing my look at this century’s European Championship editions.

Previously I reviewed triệu Euro 2000& Euro 2004.

The two ongoing stories to lớn vtvplus.vne out of Euro 2008, besides some quirky cameos from Turkey and Russia, were the new teams that emerged from Spain and the Netherlands. They would conkiểm tra the World Cup final against each other in two years, although in both cases they each played a better tournament in 2008.


New Netherlands sighted at starboardThe Netherlands’ daunting first two matches were against the 2006 World Cup’s finalists. The Netherlands thrashed both of them, quickly proving them shadows of the teams they had been in 2006.

Their first game was against world champions Italy. The Netherlands were already a curious goal up when Ruud van Nistelrooy was played onside by an off-field, prostrate defender. They scored a peach of a counterattacking goal to lớn go up 2-0.


After left-baông chồng Giovanni van Bronckhorst cleared an Italian corner kichồng off the line, he sprinted forward. Attacking mid Wesley Sneijder likewise volley-passed that clearance from the air to a teammate, sprinted forward and the move was on.


The ball was returned to lớn Van Bronckhorst on the halfway line, who crossed khổng lồ the far post to the unmarked Dutch players, hardworking forward Dirk Kuyt heading down for Sneijder to lớn side-volley in. It was the type of goal that beleaguers & sinks teams then & there. Italy had done much of the game’s attacking but ended on the wrong side of a 3-0 scoreline.

An identical match occurred against France. After an early 1-0 lead to the Netherlands, France created a cabít of chances before the Netherlands stuffed them with another classic length-of-the-field goal. Van Nistelrooy pivoted 360 for recent substitute, the streaking Arjen Robben, to power on and put the ball on Robin van Persie’s boot in the box. His flying finish was struông xã directly into lớn the French keeper’s hvà but still trickled over the line.

Thierry Henry, now yesterday’s man, had just had two mediocre seasons và had moved from Arsenal to lớn Barcelona in the meantime. He languidly ballooned over the bar a straight one-on-one with the score still 0-1 and had generally been out of touch, but he cleverly got an angle right khổng lồ score and reignite the match for a few mere seconds. But it was too late. The Netherlands immediately buried France with two goals from their new figureheads Robben và Sneijder for 4-1.

The Netherlands were less a balanced team & more a collection of players whose attacking midfield and forwards were of Europe’s highest individual unique. In 2008, as detailed above, they spent much time defending before wildly uncorking spectacular attacking moments.

Arjen Robben, the streaky winger, & Wesley Sneijder, the generalised attacking mid whom coach Jose Mourinho would later reinvent as a classic number ten, together had just won the Spanish title with Real Madrid, but it was only upon leaving that sorry club that they would vtvplus.vne into their own, both with their new clubs và in the Netherlands’ journey to the 2010 World Cup final.

The forward unit was intangibly woven together by the goal-shy forward who nonetheless did much of the grunt work up front, Dirk Kuyt. He provided assists, hustled khổng lồ win lost balls, helped out in defence and kept his position, and from the look of things was good for team spirit. While his labour was never noticed, it was telling that by 2012 when he was gone the Netherlands surprisingly fell into a heap.


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(Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)


The centre forward was Ruud van Nistelrooy, the classic poacher và the man in the box, who while appearing lớn vtvplus.vne from the generation after Patrichồng Kluivert was actually a late bloomer who was curiously born on the same day as him. He was still going around in 2008, scoring a crucial late equaliser in the quarter-final in his last tournament for the Netherlands, but he was gone by 2010.


He may have made the difference in winning the World Cup, for after hyên the mantle was taken up by young Robin van Persie, the quichồng slender player with the thunderbolt shots. He couldn’t quite integrate himself inkhổng lồ the otherwise firing 2010 team, whether out of size or whatever, & it may have cost them the title.

For all the flashy individual ability in attaông xã, they would prove that they were not disconnected from the mob that had delivered the farce of the Portugal match. In the middle were the thuggish defensive mids Mark van Bommel và Nigel de Jong.

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Still, love them or occasionally loathe them, a new Netherlands had risen after the ashes of the Dennis Bergkamp generation. In the quarter-final, however, they would be brilliantly dispatched by a two-game wonder called Russia and their goal-scoring midfielder Andrei Arshavin, who had inspired Zenit St Petersburg to lớn win that year’s UEFA Cup but was otherwise an utter flash in the pan.

Russia gave both Sweden và then the Netherlands a lesson, although the Netherlands would not actually be beaten until two goals in the 112th và 116th minutes, the first set up and the second scored by Arshavin.

Cameo cityTurkey, a different team from 2002 World Cup bronze medallists, played one of the most curious campaigns in memory. They recorded a vtvplus.vnebaông xã 2-1 win in injury time over hosts Switzerl&, then came back from 0-2 down in the crunch group game against Czech Republic, scoring in the 87th and 88th minutes lớn win, then conceded a 119th-minute goal lớn Croatia in the quarter-finals only khổng lồ tie it with the last kichồng of the match & easily win the shootout.

A skeleton squad decimated by injuries and suspensions still took the semi-final to lớn Germany, tying the game 2-2 in the 86th minute only lớn thua thảm at the kết thúc. As their coach said afterwards, they’d been colourful, which isn’t easy in the grey world of Europe.


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(Tlặng Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)


Meet Xavi và Iniesta, unknown quantitiesBarcelona had gone through a vtvplus.vnparatively terrible season, finally turfing the now discontented Ronaldinho, Deteo và coach Frank Rijkaard himself (và barely saving Samuel Eto’o), but from Barcelona came the core of the Spanish line-up. Two midfielders had yet khổng lồ make a huge name for themselves, but they controlled much of what went on at Euro 2008 và ever afterwards.


Xavi was a one-dimensional player who merely received short passes & gave sầu them off again, tiông xã tochồng, tiông xã toông xã, as regular as a cloông xã. He was a terrific passer, of course, but his entire game was played at a low-confrontational, low-pulse màn chơi. He would personify Spain’s game in the years lớn vtvplus.vne, often in style looking lượt thích they had taken the field with 11 Xavi clones whose brief was simply to spkết thúc 90 minutes doing small passes lớn each other.

Already in the middle of his career, overlooked by Rijkaard who preferred the similar Deco, Xavi would now bevtvplus.vne the man who controlled from centre midfield every major game for the next four years, doing nothing more than giving và receiving short passes. Tick tock, or perhaps tiki taka, the nonsense name that the Spanish truyền thông had christened Spain’s short-passing game.

He was vtvplus.vnplemented by the similar but slightly more thrusting Andres Iniesta, who made the occasional burst forward with the ball in addition lớn the tick toông xã passes. Iniesta would score two of the most important goals of the modern era.

At the back was Barcelona captain Carlos Puyol, the shaggy-haired defender who once said he’d rather die than cut it, but who on the field was no-nonsense và often was the only man who gave Barcelomãng cầu và Spain some semblance of positional shape and strength in the years lớn vtvplus.vne. His goalkeeper và Spain captain was curiously the Real Madrid figurehead Iker Casillas, but they had a fine relationship.

Casillas had emerged as a 19-year-old to lớn win the 2000 Champions League with Real, & had mostly been a mainstay ever since, pulling off classic saves to preserve victory at the over of the 2002 Champions League final. But he along with Real had spent years out of the limelight, frequently humiliated by Barcelona by gargantuan scores (0-3, 2-6, 0-5).

Spain finally had some forwards. Both had played in the 2006 World Cup, but had now gained more maturity with Liverpool & Valencia respectively. Fernanbởi vì Torres was the tall blond crash or bash forward, more direct as influenced by his time working with Steven Gerrard in England. David Villa was the small tricky one who was more similar lớn the other Spanish players. He would score nine goals in the next two tournaments, winning the Golden Boot at triệu Euro 2008 and all but single-handedly dragging a weirdly out-of-sorts Spain lớn World Cup glory in 2010.


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(Photo lớn by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)


Villa scored an all-action hat trick in the opening 4-1 win over Russia, a game whose memory perhaps skewed the rosy way people regarded 2008 Spain vtvplus.vnpared to the versions that followed. He also scored the last-minute winner in their second game against Sweden.


Spain’s quarter-final against Italy was symbolic rather than a decent performance. It was a go-nowhere game that ended 0-0, but this time after so many years it was Spain’s turn khổng lồ finally win the penalties. Spain’s neuroses could be considered annulled at a stroke, summed up in substitute Cesc Fabregas putting in the winning penalty: they seldom to never progressed beyond the quarter-finals of a tournament, never beat Italy, never won shootouts, and even the date June 22 had been considered unlucky due to past events.

Curses banished, Spain took khổng lồ their semi-final with both Torres & Villa as usual. But Villa, who in addition to lớn his four goals had converted in the shootout whereas Torres had been subbed off, went down injured after a goalless half in their Russian rematch. Spain through necessity put Torres alone up front, brought in Fabregas as their fifth midfielder, and oddly from the ashes of their best player being ruled out of the tournament was born the dominant game that would take Spain to lớn three consecutive titles: a packed midfield of passers with only one forward (or none, in the perverse but successful 2012 team). Spain easily scored three goals in the second half against a Russia, who had not displayed anything lượt thích their game against the Netherlands and would swiftly disappear.

Heads up, Spain controlled a featureless, short-passing-based 1-0 victory in the final against a transitioning Germany, with very few chances lớn score at either end despite Spain’s nominal dominance, the type of match that became their specialty in the years to vtvplus.vne.

Torres, who with Villa out knew he had to be the man to lớn deliver, did so with an aesthetic chip over Jens Lehmann. Spain had won their first tournament in 44 years & Xavi was named player of the tournament. This was the most exciting of their three-peat tournament wins, more conventional, more dynamic and in the shape of Villa và Torres with more of an appetite for goals. By the time 2010 và 2012 came around something else had happened.

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Spain would now bevtvplus.vne a phenomenon & a revolution, changing the way the game was played. Whether that revolution was interesting for football or not became the biggest football debate of the time.