Breaking down Germany vs. Spain
Let's count the reasons why Germany has no business beating Spain for the Euro 2008 championship on Sunday (ABC, 2:45 p.m. ET):
• Spain has been the undisputed best team in Euro 2008, winning every one of its games. (I consider the penalty-kick elimination of Italy a win, statisticians be damned). Germany lost convincingly to Croatia in the group stage and has had a schizophrenic tournament.
• German midfield star
• Germany struggled mightily and needed a last-minute goal to win a 3-2 semifinal against a Turkish team that was missing its four best attacking players due to injuries or suspensions. For its part, Spain throttled a red-hot Russian side in the semis 3-0.
• Germany's borderline insane goalkeeper,
• Spain's due.
• If dinged-up striker
• Spain's back line has been amazing in the knockout rounds, shutting out Italy and Russia.
• Spain has a greater number of creative sources on the attack. Midfielders Fàbregas,
• Germany knows how to convert set-pieces. How many times have we seen the Germans be outplayed on the field, only to win the game on a ruthlessly converted set-piece goal? It happened again in the quarterfinals against Portugal, and this Spanish team reminds me a lot of its Iberian counterpart. Marchena and Puyol are not nearly as tall as Germany's
• Germany almost always regroups after a sub-par performance. We saw it in the group-stage when the Germans dispatched Austria after the loss to Croatia. This is where Ballack earns his stripes as a captain, rallying the troops when it counts. This is where the German defense eliminates the mistakes it made against Turkey.
• Podolski and Schweinsteiger understand winning-time -- and each other. Their combination plays to score goals against Portugal and Turkey were things of beauty, and you
So yes, there are more reasons Spain will win. But this is Germany, after all, and I feel like we've been through this before. Should be a great game, though.