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My colleague Saj Chowdhury has done a bit of a straw poll in the office and here is our(unofficial) team of Euro 2008.

You can see how it compares to the official team here.

Fernando Torres was your star of the final in Player Rater and deservedly so after winning the cup for Spain.

But his two goals in the tournament weren't enough to get him into our overall team. Have we got it right or have we dropped the ball?

Continue reading "Team of the tournament"

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The most gifted and complete team won Euro 2008 - and for that I am truly thankful. I thought at one stage it might be the Dutch before I briefly flirted with the idea that Russia may well exceed expectations. But ultimately there can be no arguing with Spain's status as worthy champions.

It could have been so different had Miroslav Klose capitalised on Sergio Ramos's awful pass to Carles Puyol after just three minutes but destiny ensured victory was with the deserved.

In defeating Germany here at the Ernst Happel Stadium on this balmy June evening, Spain not only ended 44 years of international failure and frustration but delivered a gift rich in significance to those who subscribe to a brand of football that truly is the beautiful game.

Continue reading "Spain are worthy winners"


Something's got to give at the Ernst Happel Stadium on Sunday. Germany's mental rigour comes up against a Spanish outfit that is widely regarded as the most complete team at Euro 2008.

And when the losers trudge off, beaten and vanquished, they can console themselves with the thought that they are far from alone in their abject disappointment. Both countries are at fever pitch as the final moves ever closer, with the match dominating television, radio and newspaper coverage.

Continue reading "Final expectations at fever pitch"


Time is ticking for Vienna's Panini football card collectors. They meet outside the Technisches Museum, every Friday afternoon, old women trading with schoolchildren, long lists of indecipherable numbers in their hand. What will they do next Friday?

The clock is also running down for touts in the centre of Vienna. One walked past me in the rain and said: "Tickets?" I said that I was alright thanks. "I'm ******* buying not selling," came the reply. I guess I should have read the sign, written in several languages, that he was holding.

Continue reading "Platini basks in Euro success"


Much as the Dutch, Turks, Russians and co have lit up Euro 2008, the ingredients for Sunday's final are close to perfect in TV terms.

OK, so the audience would be bigger if one of the home nations had somehow made it. However, in all honesty, this tournament really hasn't missed us. The football has largely been glorious - eight goals in two semis, with no extra-time or penalties, is not the norm in modern tournament football.

Continue reading "A dream final?"


Cesc Fabregas - like the thoroughbred he is - has timed his run perfectly to inspire Spain to victory in Euro 2008.

Fabregas's season at Arsenal has, in some respects, mirrored the fortunes of Spain's national team over so many major tournaments in that huge promise was left unfulfilled when the big prizes were handed out.

This has every chance of changing when Spain face Germany in the final of a superb Euro 2008 in Vienna on Sunday.

And with David Villa a major doubt through injury, Spain will look to Fabregas to repeat a performance in the semi-final win against Russia that was just stunning.

Continue reading "Fabregas can inspire Spain to final glory"


There is a little tension in the air at the Broadcast Centre here in Vienna. Spanish television station Cadena Cope have put an unnecessary strain on international relations by "dissing" both the Italians and the Russians.

One sign above the door to their compound bears the words "Arrivederci Italia" while another to the side has a list of Spanish scalps at Euro 2008 so far, finished off with the line "Russia, are you ready to lose?" Could be a case of some humble paella being eaten on Friday morning.

Continue reading "Mischievous Spanish in confident mood"


Andrei Arshavin looks to have eclipsed David Villa as Euro 2008's hottest property - and the inspirational Russian No 10 has also leapt above the Spaniard in BBC Sport's Player Rater rankings following the quarter-finals.

Arshavin now has a 9.02 rating after inspiring Guus Hiddink's side to victory over the much-fancied Netherlands, while Villa (8.13) has dropped to third place, behind Polish goalkeeper Artur Boruc (8.37), after getting a 7.0 mark for his performance in Spain's penalty shoot-out win over Italy.

Continue reading "Arshavin on the up - Villa slides"


I wonder what Zinedine Zidane made of it all? A Frenchman who spent the best years of his glittering football career playing in Italy and Spain, he was at the Ernst Happel Stadium on Sunday night to see the last of the Euro 2008 quarter-finals.

On paper - rather an outdated phrase, don't you think? - this should have been a classic, but then football's history is littered with games that have failed to live up their pre-match hype.

Continue reading "Zidane waltzes in as Italy bow out"


Whenever someone mentions the word "statistics" I can't help but think of past Miss World competitions. And in case my wife is reading this, the last one I watched must have been at least 20 years ago. Yep, that's long before we met, my love.

Anyway, the BBC Sport website's Player Rater has thrown up some interesting numbers following the completion of the group games at Euro 2008...

Continue reading "Lies, damned lies and statistics"

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