After ending their penalty shoot-out jinx on Sunday, Spain moved one step closer to Euro 2008 glory, but ahead of the game the omens didn’t look good.Ã‚Â
Three times on June 22 Spain have exited major tournaments at the quarter-final stage on penalties, but that hoodoo was smashed in Vienna as Cesc Fabregas’ confident spot-kick was enough to see off the Azzurri 4-2.Ã‚Â
Another June 22 shoot-out defeat would have had Luis Aragones tearing out the little hair he has left, but now the wily old Spain coach can look forward to plotting the downfall of Russia.Ã‚Â
The writing looked like it was on the wall for Spain when Italy stifled the Spanish for 120 minutes and forced the spot-kick drama, but the World Cup defeat by Belgium in 1986, the Wembley defeat to England at Euro ’96 and World Cup woe against South Korea in 2002, all on that fateful date, have all been forgotten.Ã‚Â
Spain fully deserved to edge past an average Italy side and they are now the bookies favourites at football odds of 1.65 to book their place in Sunday’s final against Germany.
Only once have Spain lifted the European Championship trophy, back in 1964Ã‚Â – an amazing statistic when you consider the success of Spanish teams in European competition over the last few decades.Ã‚Â
Their best recent showing was in 1984 when Spain were beaten by Michel Platini’s France and since then the quarter-finals have been the resting place for the men from Iberia.Ã‚Â
Germany and their creaking defence are the favourites to grab their fourth success of the championships but Spain are quoted at football odds of 2.95 and with frontmen of Fernando Torres and David Villa’s class they surely won’t get as good an opportunity again.
By Phil TomlinsonÃ‚Â
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