Article by Daniel Millions
This summer’s European Football Championships held in Switzerland and Austria has been hailed as a massive success. The vast majority of games were full of excitement and goals and there were very few unsavory incidents. Many supporters and experts have expressed their belief that the tournament was one of the best ever. The eventual winners were Spain who were regarded as the best team not only by virtue of the winning score line but also they were the team that played the best football, scored the most goals and conceded the least.
This year’s European Championships was the thirteenth time it has been held since its inauguration in 1960. The tournament format was based on four groups with four teams in each. They played off against each other once and the top two teams qualified for the quarter finals. The group stage of Euro 2008 provided a fantastic display of open attacking football.
The opening game of the 2008 tournament was played out between co-hosts Switzerland and the Czech Republic. The Swiss had high hopes that they could impress but it looked like the pressure of expectation lay heavy as they struggled. They suffered a huge blow by losing star striker Alexander Frei during the game before losing 1-0.
In Group A, Portugal eased to victories over the Czech Republic and Switzerland to become the first team to qualify. In a dramatic final game between Turkey and the Czech Republic, the former emerged victorious after coming back from two goals down to score three in the last 15 minutes of the game.
In Group B, pre-tournament favorites Germany beat Poland before surprisingly losing to Croatia in the second game. They eventually qualified in the last game but failed to impress in a narrow win over co-hosts Austria, who were also eliminated in the same game.
Group C was seen as the tightest group with Holland, France and the World Cup winners Italy battling with Romania. However the Dutch seemed to be one of the most impressive teams in the tournament after comfortably beating Italy 3-0 and France 4-1. With Holland comfortably through, Italy and France met each other to decide the final qualification. In a tense game the Italians proved to be more resilient as they won 2-0.
In Group D Spain and Russia demonstrated some of the best attacking football in the whole tournament. The Spanish with their quick one touch football and the clinical shooting of Fernando Torres and David Villa easily qualified with victories over Russia, Greece and Sweden. The Russians followed with an impressive victory in the last game against the Swedes.
The quarter finals are typically the point when the best raise their game. This is often the case with Germany. Having struggled to qualify from the group stage, they impressed by defeat a good Portuguese team and became the first team to qualify for the semi-finals. They were joined there by Turkey who in a dramatic finale managed to level the game against Croatia in the last minute before defeating them in a penalty shoot-out. Holland failed to continue their earlier impressive performances by losing to Russia and Spain managed to defeat Italy on penalties after a tense game.
The semi-finals provided fantastic entertainment. Turkey once more demonstrated their tenacity, but ultimately were unable to restrain Germany who progressed to the Final 3-2. Spain eased through after defeating Russia for the second time in tournament.
The Euro 2008 Final was played on 30 June. Spain won 1-0 with a goal from Fernando Torres and subsequently won the tournament for the first time since 1964.
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