Well, his header did, anyway. So here’s what we’ve got: Spain versus Holland on Sunday for the gold trophy. Who ya got? One thing’s for sure, whichever team you have, you’ll be rooting for what will be first-time World Cup winner, regardless of which team you choose.
Thanks to a scrambling, surprising goal from Gelson Fernandes, the Switzerland World Cup team shocked, well, the world by beating highly-favored Spain. The Swiss team was powered by a definitive defensive performance; one that allowed the talented Spaniards a huge advantage in terms of possession (63-37 percent) but limited their quality shots on goal. While Spain certainly threatened — they out-shot the Swiss 24-8 — Switzerland took better advantage of their (lone?) scoring chance, which came courtesy of a nifty counter-attack.
The loss was only Spain’s second in their last 50 games, emphasizing just how much of a shock Switzerland provided.
Another good gauge would be the respective FIFA rankings of each team. For what that’s worth, Spain is rated second only to Brazil, while Switzerland is ranked 24th. Yet another indicator is fan reaction. The next image speaks more volumes than mere words can:
So while this may not be on par with “The Miracle on Ice,” it’s still significant; if, for nothing else, the amount of pressure the loss places on Spain, one of the favorites to win the World Cup outright. While advancement is not out of the question, they will have to win their remaining games to ensure their position in the knock-out rounds.
Apparently, Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore got my message about nuking the Spanish team from orbit, because in what could be one of the more improbable victories in Team USA’s soccer history, the boys from the United States absolutely shocked the on-a-35-game-non-losing-streak Spanish by the score of 2-0. The lead video features Dempsey’s second goal which put the game out of reach.
After scoring what was probably the most important goal of his international career, what can Clint Dempsey do for an encore against the Spanish national team, their unlikely opponent in about 20 minutes? Does the US stand a chance against the top-ranked team in FIFA? Quickly, if they can play with the same effort they showed against Egypt, the US will have a chance. However, if they provide the same showing they gave against the Brazilians — man down or not — Spain’s conquering will be reminiscent of the Incas.
Well, that was… improbable. Nevertheless, after what might have been two of their worst international showings since the 1998 World Cup, the United State miraculously advanced to the knock-out round of the Confederations Cup after a stirring 3-0 victory over Egypt. As improved as the United States looked against Egypt, they would not have advanced without a little help from their soccer-playing friends from Brazil.
While stories like this would never be confirmed on the record, something occurred to me while I was watching Team USA dismantle Spain Saturday morning — were the Redeemers punishing Spain for their ridiculous insensitivity when they took that infamous photo?
You know, this one:
Considering Jason Kidd’s comments about the amazingly-stupid photo, it’s obvious he and his teammates were aware of what went on. How could they not be? With that in mind, it’s not hard to fathom the Redeemers playing the role of disciplinarian and teaching the Spanish a little about humiliation — something they did time and time again with a bevy of dunks, 3-pointers, screams, yells and LeBron James glares.
It was almost as if Team USA was spanking the Spaniards for something besides just showing the world USA Basketball is back. No, it felt almost personal — like when a two hated rivals play and one team eschews the “throw out the records when these teams play” tradition and blows their rival opponent out.
There’s a little extra something in the domination; like rubbing your rivals’ faces in it.
That’s what Team USA’s beatdown of Spain felt like — a “how dare you disrespect our hosts” type of performance. Maybe I’m reading too much into things, but that doesn’t change the fact it felt a little bit like Team USA was making Spain pay for their insensitivity at the one place they could do so with impunity: the basketball court.
No time for losers, cause we are the champions… of the WORLD (well, all of Europe, at least). I imagine that song is going through everybody’s head who rooted for the Spanish yesterday. And thanks to a brilliant Fernando Torres finish, some great defense and a less-than-stellar attack from Germany, Spain are the champions of the Euro 2008 tournament.
And rightfully so. Once the knock-out rounds began, it was pretty easy to see the Spaniards were playing the best football.
By now, you’ve reviewed all the live blogs and wrap-ups available so I won’t belabor the point with needless recap text. However, I will say Torres’ go-ahead goal was a great example of simply outworking your opponent. There were no flashy step-overs or nifty slight-of-foot dribbling. All it took was sheer determination combined with a deft touch of the soccer boot to finish Germany off.
For Spain, it was there first major championship in 44 years.
5-8-6. That’s Spain’s record against Germany in their last, oh, 19 or so meetings. Now the Spaniards will get a chance to improve their overall standing against the Germans on Sunday after beating Russia, 3-0. This is the same Russian squad the Spanish beat during group-play portion of Euro 2008, 4-1. I guess when you beat a team twice by the combined score of 7-1 in soccer, it’s safe to say you dominated them.
After a scoreless first half, the levee broke open for the Russians as Spain scored three unanswered goals in the second stanza. The deadlock was broken by Xavi Hernandez in the 50th minute. Once Xavi scored, the play continued to go back and forth as Russia tried in vain to equalize the game. However, once Daniel Güiza scored the second goal in the 73rd minute, the game was over.
The backbreaking third goal was punched in by David Silva in the 82nd minute courtesy of some brilliant passing from the Spanish midfield to spring the counter-attack.
What can we expect on Sunday when Spain and Germany meet for Euro 2008 Cup? Both sides love to attack the opponent’s defense so this shouldn’t be a repeat of the France/Italy World Cup Final. One hopes, anyway. Although, maybe we’ll be lucky enough to enjoy some Zidane-style of excitement when these two teams square off.
Kick-off is scheduled for Sunday at 2:45/1:45 Central.