Spain, Germany to forge a legacy

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:31 AM ET

VIENNA, AUSTRIA -- There's a certain feeling when things are right.

You get that feeling at Euro 2008.

There is an ebb and flow to a tournament like this. Early on, there was talk of how good the favoured teams were, including the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Germany.

As teams started to get knocked out, the flow ebbed away from those teams to the surprises, such as Turkey and Russia, both making the semifinals against long odds.

There were dreams of upsets and how one of those two teams could make a run as Greece did in 2004, winning the title.

But for all the excitement generated by the upstarts, neither could book a passage to the final.

It will be Spain and Germany Sunday. Spain will attempt to win its second European title. Germany will be looking for its fourth.

Let's be honest. Turkey against Russia would've been interesting. Who knows what that game might've provided?

Any other combination of teams, though, might not have given this tournament the kind of final game it needed.

Fans remember a final. They may remember the odd game along the way, but if a final lacks competitive quality and if it lacks enjoyment -- no matter how good the rest of the tournament might have been -- a bad final will be remembered.

Look how difficult it was to wipe the image of the Spain-Italy quarter-final out of our memory banks. Three of the four quarter-finals offered up something great. Yet all most people wanted to talk about was the disaster that was Italy-Spain.

This tournament has been too good to let that happen.

With all due respect to Greece, which played perfectly to win, the 2004 tournament didn't provide the kind of soccer that will be burned in anyone's memory.

Greece was an anomaly. Most teams that are as sizable underdogs as Greece was in 2004 or Turkey and Russia were in this tournament come crashing down to earth.

Turkey was a tough, old bird. It could well have beaten Germany and made the final.

But Russia was brought back to this planet by Spain, which dominated a second half so thoroughly that most people were happy when it ended.

Now imagine a final of that ilk. No, thank you.

I'd much rather see a great 2-1 game than a 4-1 win by a team that's on cruise control.

There will be a terrific edge to this game. Spain will play hard because it has gotten to the final despite everyone waiting for them to fail.

Germany will play hard because it knows no other way.

A great tournaments finds its way to a good final.

Two of the better tournaments in recent soccer history were the 1970 and 1986 World Cups. While Brazil handed Italy a 4-1 spanking in 1970, the game was close until 25 minutes were left.

That tournament also provided what was arguably one of the top games in history, a semifinal game between Italy and Germany that went to extra time with Italy winning 4-3. Five goals were scored in extra time and German captain Franz Beckenbauer played with his arm strapped to his chest to protect a separated shoulder.

The 1986 tournament had it all, as well, including Diego Maradona's scoring the greatest goal in World Cup history and scoring with his hand in the same game.

The final involved Germany and Argentina. Argentina went up 2-0 and Germany came back to tie it with two late goals. Argentina won it 3-2 with a goal by Jorge Burruchaga with five minutes left.

Euro 2008 has found its final and it will get its legacy.


Videos

Photos