The second semi-final saw a Russian side who had comprehensively outplayed Holland take on a Spanish side who had comprehensively outplayed Italy. The prize being the opportunity to take on the Germans in Sunday’s final.
The first half was fairly even with Russia just shading the possession. Spain lost David Villa to injury towards the end of the half and he was replaced by Arsenal’s Cesc Fabregas.
Early in the second half Xavi opened the scoring for Spain and from that moment on there was only ever going to be one winner. For the rest of the game Spain dominated, playing some exquisite football and leaving the Russians chasing shadows. Further goals from Guiza and Silva sealed a 3-0 win that did not flatter a scintillating Spain side.
For this fifth article in the Euro 2008 who’s HOT and who’s NOT series I am going to look at purely the two semi-finals before completing the series after the final on Sunday with a look back at the whole tournament.
No doubt about this one. Germany were disappointing but won. Turkey were excellent but lost. Russia could not live up to their billing or their reputation and failed to do themselves justice. That leaves Spain who, in the second half of their semi-final were quite simply superb.
Not hot team
I’m afraid this has to go to Russia. I was excited by their quarter-final display and I had a sneaky feeling that they might just surprise the Spanish. As it turned out, the Russian side that turned up for this game was barely recognisable from the one that so convincingly beat the Dutch.
This has still got to go to Casillas of Spain. He had very little or nothing to do until about the eightieth minute when he was called upon to make an excellent save. He oozes confidence and you can see the trust that the back four of Sergio Ramos, Marchena, Puyol and Capdevila have in the man behind them.
Not hot keeper
I’m tempted to give this to Jens Lehmann just because I don’t like him and he always seems such a bad tempered individual. Unfortunately despite looking a bit dodgy he hasn’t really cost the Germans yet so I can’t! The only keeper to make any sort of damaging mistake was Turkey veteran, Rustu. When he failed to get anywhere near Lahm’s cross and allowed Klose to head Germany into the lead he must have wished that he had announced his retirement prior to this game rather than after it.
Carlos Puyol was quite simply superb for Spain in their win over Russia. The much hyped Arshavin and Pavluchenko were not given any chance whatsoever to show what they can do. That was largely due to the fact that Puyol was all over the pair of them like a proverbial rash! Great defending by a great defender.
Not hot defender
He has hardly played for Real Madrid due to injury and to me he looks woefully short of match practice, match fitness and confidence. Germany’s Christoph Metzelder has looked anything but a world class centre-half. Still, like Jens Lehmann, with a place in the final, I don’t suppose he will be too bothered by my criticism!
It is very difficult to pick out one midfield player, so for their second half performance I’m giving this to Iniesta, Xavi, Fabregas, Senna and Silva. Simply superb. The passing and movement between these five players was astonishing.
Not hot midfielder
I think Michael Ballack is one of the best players in the world. Were I to select a team of the tournament, he would probably be my skipper. Having said that, I’m going to give him this award for his semi-final performance. He was part of a German side outplayed by a vastly understrength Turkey. He never really imposed himself on the game or drove the team on in the way he often does.
I’m going to give this one to Germany’s Miroslav Klose. His goal against Turkey showed that he is still a top striker. Five goals in two consecutive world cups and now another two in these championships mean that this unassuming player should really be listed right up there with the best strikers of all time.
Not hot striker
Fernando Torres came into this tournament with very high expectations. The one goal he has scored in five games is not the return he would have been looking for. He has been substituted on more than one occasion and will be slightly disappointed with his personal performances.
Just for this game however, I have to give the award to the rightly hyped Andrei Arshavin, who with the world watching and waiting to see what he could do, completely failed to turn up for the game.
Best of the semi’s
The display given by the Spanish midfield in the second half of their game was as close to perfection as you will see. They were almost unplayable and gave an almost ‘training ground’ type demonstration of to create space, pass and move and create chances.
Stinker of the semi’s
Russia were such a let down after their magnificent performances against Sweden and Holland. I really thought they might surprise Spain but they didn’t rise to the occasion at all.
Do you agree with my nominations or do you think there are more deserving recipients for the HOT and NOT awards?
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!