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Euro 2008: After semifinals

Bookmakers are no slouches: We’ve got a Germany – Spain final.

Spain pretty much pasted Russia in the second half, winning in more than convincing fashion. The Russians played as I expected them to play in the previous game, i.e. reasonably well but worse than the opponents. The first half actually ended up scoreless in a fairly even contest, with both teams creating several half-chances. After the interval, though, only one team continued playing. Arshavin was invisible, the rest of the Russian team was far from impressive, and the Spaniards scored three very nice goals. My Arsenal favorite, Cesc Fabregas, was at his best, directing Spanish attack.

In the earlier semifinal, Germany was outplayed for most of the game by the scrappy Turkish team, but showed an amazing prowess in exploiting the few mistakes that the Turks made on defense. Turkey actually opened scoring for the first time in their five matches, but the Germans equalized pretty quickly, and the lively game then proceeded without serious threats but with discernible territorial advantage for the Turks as if towards the extra time. True to his form, though, the Turkish goalie blundered at some point, and otherwise ineffective Miroslav Klose scored on an excellent header. Turkey, of course, did not run out of its escape magic, scoring a goal seemingly out of nowhere four minutes from the end of regulation. But that was still the final gasp for them, as Germany managed to get back into the lead with an excellent passing display that led to a point-blank strike from Philip Lahm, who had a remarkably bad game at fullback otherwise. The Turks could not respond as they did against Croatia…

I have already admitted that I am a not very good pundit, but in the end, the team that I remarked on having put in the strongest claim after the first round of games in the top half of the bracket (Germany) and the team that was one of the most impressive in the bottom half (Spain) ended up advancing to the ultimate game. I should have stopped with my analysis then – and would be able to take a lot of credit for being clairvoyant…

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