For millions of football fans around the world, the sun rose at midnight on Sunday when Spain surged past Germany to lift the European Cup. Even Germans would agree this was the rightful outcome. That Spain shrugged off the tag of under-performers and ended their 44-year wait for silverware made this classic encounter all the more remarkable.
True, there was only one goal in the match but it nevertheless symbolised the magic wrought by the Spaniards in the tournament. They tamed the German onslaught in the opening minutes of the match like a bullfighter bringing the bull to heel. From then on, it was all about German efficiency and stubbornness versus the dashing, free spirits of Spain. Michael Ballack’s men kept trying counter attack, but they were outclassed and outpassed in the middle of the field, while Torres and Cesc Fabregas kept picking holes in the vaunted German defence.
At least four players from this Spanish team could easily find their place in any world eleven. Their style and finesse are reminiscent of the best of South American football, especially their mastery of the 10-yard ball that threatened to increase the score-line more than once. No wonder Spain maintained their early momentum and became more resilient as the competition progressed, scoring the most goals, and conceding the fewest. Football never looked more beautiful.