Milton Ceita Da Costa
Classic Sides - Spain 2008
Welcome to our Classic Sides Series
First up we examine Luis Aragonés’ Spain (2008-2012) and their Euro 2008 Final triumph against Germany in Michael Ballack’s final tournament for his national team and Joachim Löw’s first as manager.
In this analysis, we have a look at the in-game developments and the context surrounding the game. Spain, at the time, were Europe’s great underachievers. They had the sole international tournament victory (1964 Euro) before 2008 and despite undoubtedly having a talented squad over the years, they had consistently fallen when it mattered most. That would all change at Euro 2008.
Germany had just missed out on making the 2006 World Cup Final on home soil and was not far from showing the world their new and exciting German generation. The Germans, unlike the Spaniards, were historically successful, but on this night, only one team would rise.
Germany began in a 4-2-3-1, with Ballack playing in the hole behind Klose, and Hitzlsperger and Frings screening the backline. Bastian Schweintseiger at this point was still predominantly a winger and began on the right flank with Lukas Podolski on the left. Future captain and star, Lahm operated at left back before being hooked at the half. As we will see in the video, out of possession, for the most part, the Germans kept this shape, but in possession Schweinsteiger would often come in field and become a right-sided central midfielder, an 8, while Hitzlsperger would move up the field to become a left-sided center midfielder, another 8, leaving Frings as the sole holding midfielder, the 6. Podolski remained in his left wing role.
Spain also began in a 4-2-3-1. Another future captain, Sergio Ramos began as the right fullback, with Marcos Senna and Xavi Hernández as the 6’s, and Cesc Fabregas ahead of them. Fernando Torres was the striker and Andrés Iniesta and David Silva were the wide playmakers. Iniesta and Silva started both halves on their dominant foot flank (Silva on the left and Iniesta on the right) but after several minutes they switched and played mainly as inverted playmakers. Senna acted like Frings and held down the fort in the middle while the midfielders ahead of were given more license to roam.
Now that the context has been set, let’s begin!