The winner of the Spain vs. Italy match was not just Spain it was soccer fans everywhere. The Italians playing their trademark defensive game settled for a penalty shootout before the opening kickoff. There plans backfired when they missed two penalties and went out 4-2 to Spain.
Italy was everything that soccer hate in this game. They were defensive, play-acting, pulling on shirts and barely venturing over the half-way line. It was a win for soccer everywhere to see them get knocked out of the competition.
The win is the first time that Spain have reached the semi-finals of a major tournament since they got to the final of the European championships in 1984 and they now meet Russia in a first round rematch on Thursday. This semi-final has soccer fans all over the world salivating at the attacking show that this game could be. Before the Italy game Spain had been very impressive especially with Fernando Torres and David Silva up front.
Russia have gotten better since that defeat by Spain, and they were so impressive in sweeping away Holland behind the sublime skills of playmaker Andrei Arshavin on Saturday. The young Russian team plays an exciting style of football and have an an ever-growing self belief that this is their tournament to win.
Midfielder Konstantin Zyryanov said the fact Russia had upped their game so much during their last two matches gave them the momentum to go even further.
“We have beaten two very strong teams, I think this improves our chances,” he told reporters. “I want to play Spain (in the semi-final),” he added. “We made lots of mistakes against Spain (in the group match) and now we have fixed them very quickly.”
It will be an enthralling semi-final that could be a showcase for exciting, attacking football. Based on this weekends performance I expect Russia to win 3-2 in a thriller.
The other semi-final matches the heart attack boys from Turkey with German power and precision. Turkey has been ahead for 2 minutes all tournament but find themselves 90 minutes from their first European Champions Final. The problem for Turkey is whether they can field 11 players as injuries and suspensions have decimated their roster.
Turkey’s chances of winning the championship were dealt a blow when forward Nihat Kahveci was ruled out for the rest of the tournament with a right thigh injury. Nihat was hurt in the closing minutes of extra time in Friday’s quarterfinal match against Croatia, which the Turks won in a penalty shootout.
I think that Turkey’s luck will run out on Wednesday and the unimpressive Germans will be in another final. Germany has played one good game all torment, but because of upsets and good fortune they are huge favorites to won on Wednesday. I expect Turkey to run out of gas on this one and for Germany to win handily, 3-0.