Spain's time to reign

MORRIS DALLA COSTA

, Last Updated: 11:49 AM ET

VIENNA -- News conferences at major tournaments usually are fairly mundane events.

Not much happens and if you get one decent quote that's usable, it's considered a banner day.

But yesterday's news conference prior to today's 2008 Euro final between Germany and Spain was a little different.

It wasn't a case of getting a multitude of earth-shattering quotes. No, there was the usual babble made worse by some awful translating.

It was more the attitude that conveyed what a special event this tournament has been.

The news conference involved some of the head honchos at UEFA, the governing body of this tournament. The star was UEFA president Michel Platini, the former French midfielder considered one of the best players to have played the game.

No one could hide the satisfaction they felt at the quality of play on the soccer pitch.

Now normally, it's to be expected that the men in suits would follow the party line and talk about the greatness of the tournament, no matter the true situation. A tournament could produce a succession of games as dreadful as the Italy-Spain quarterfinal and these guys would find the right tune to sing.

"It might not have been great offensive football but the quality of defending was superb and did you not enjoy the penalty kicks?"

No, in fact, we didn't enjoy it at all.

Whatever came out of their mouths should be taken with at least a pound of salt, never mind a grain.

But all one had to do was listen to the most hard-boiled, cynical, hard-to-please individuals on earth to learn the truth.

The media covering this tournament is smitten.

Many questions asked of Platini were preceded by statements such as: "Now that you've staged this marvellous tournament..."

That is not usual.

The satisfaction level is ratcheted to higher levels because virtually everyone has the kind of final they want. There was a certain attraction to having a favourite and a long-shot fighting for the championship. But the idea of two of the top teams in the world has left everyone predicting a quality final.

Spain has more individually skilled players, while Germany is stronger and bigger.

Spain has played more consistently but Germany has more experience.

Spain has shown a willingness to mix it up in this tournament more than it has in the past, however Germany is an expert on mixing it up.

Germany can withstand a lot of pressure and wear you out but Spain doesn't wear out and if it scores first, it may fill the net.

Germany could have Michael Ballack in midfield and Spain has quints in the midfield that can all play.

Germany has the kind of survival instinct that is needed in tournaments like this. It survived Turkey. Spain isn't Turkey but if Germany gives Spain the same chances it gave Turkey, it will be in for a long, long evening.

Germany has great incentive. For a nation used to winning tournaments, it hasn't won one since 1996.

Spain has greater incentive. It hasn't won since 1964 and there is a nation waiting for a victory.

Germany will play with the confidence of a team used to winning this kind of game. Spain will play with the confidence of a team that believes it has shed the skin of an underachiever.

I selected Spain to win before the tournament began, but if Germany emerged victorious, it would be no upset or surprise.

You see, for every point there is a counterpoint.

Spain 3-1.


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