Spain defeats Germany to win Euro 2008

Spain won its first trophy in 44 years on Sunday as they beat three-time European champions Germany 1-0 in the Euro 2008 final.

Spain defeats Germany to win Euro 2008
Photo: DPA

Fernando Torres scored the only goal of the match in the 33rd minute, handing Spain its first title since winning the European crown in 1964.

“It’s always disappointing to lose in the final, but the team played a great tournament overall,” said German capital Michael Ballack. “Today we made one or two mistakes too many. The Spaniards deserved to win.”

The bitter loss for Germany means coach Joachim Löw missed out on the chance to add his name to the trio of Germany coaches who have won a European title. The 48-year-old has earned plenty of praise from the German media at Euro 2008 having inspired an average Germany side to reach the Vienna final after just two years in charge having been predecessor Jürgen Klinsmann’s assistant.

He had aimed to follow in the path of Bertie Vogts who steered Germany to the Euro 1996 title after current German team manager Oliver Bierhoff won the tournament with a golden goal against the Czech Republic at Wembley.

As West Germany, Die Mannschaft coached by Helmut Schön claimed the Henri Delaunay trophy for the first time by defeating the USSR 3-0 in Brussels in 1972 with legendary hot-shot Gerd Müller grabbing two goals.

The West Germans bounced back from the disappointment of losing the 1976 European Championship final at the hands of Czechoslovakia with a 2-1 final triumph in Rome as Jupp Derwall coached his side to the title in 1980.

But this was the first time Löw had met Spanish opposition as a coach or player in official competition. He could only watch as Spain’s Fernando Torres scored the winner which gave his side a sixth win in the 20 games between the two sides with Germany still leading the series with eight victories.

But Löw really showed his tactical nous in the 3-2 quarter-final defeat of Portugal when he abandoned the trusted 4-4-2 formation for a potent 4-5-1 system which worked with devastating effect.

Having signed a two-year contract extension last autumn, Löw will take Germany to the 2012 World Cup finals in South Africa. His biggest challenge will now be to groom replacements for ageing midfielders Torsten Frings, Michael Ballack and Bernd Schneider, who missed the Euro 2008 finals with a back injury.

However, for the moment Löw was content to praise his current squad.

“I have to compliment the team for what they have achieved over the past few weeks,” said the 48-year-old. “It has been fantastic. The players are obviously disappointed, but they have every reason to hold their heads up high.”



Putellas becomes second Spanish footballer in history to win Ballon d’Or

Alexia Putellas of Barcelona and Spain won the women's Ballon d'Or prize on Monday, becoming only the second Spanish-born footballer in history to be considered the best in the world, and claiming a win for Spain after a 61-year wait.

FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award.
FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award. Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Putellas is the third winner of the prize, following in the footsteps of Ada Hegerberg, who won the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018, and United States World Cup star Megan Rapinoe, winner in 2019.

Putellas captained Barcelona to victory in this year’s Champions League, scoring a penalty in the final as her side hammered Chelsea 4-0 in Gothenburg.

She also won a Spanish league and cup double with Barca, the club she joined as a teenager in 2012, and helped her country qualify for the upcoming Women’s Euro in England.

Her Barcelona and Spain teammate Jennifer Hermoso finished second in the voting, with Sam Kerr of Chelsea and Australia coming in third.

It completes an awards double for Putellas, who in August was named player of the year by European football’s governing body UEFA.

But it’s also a huge win for Spain as it’s the first time in 61 years that a Spanish footballer – male or female – is crowned the world’s best footballer of the year, and only the second time in history a Spaniard wins the Ballon d’Or. 

Former Spanish midfielder Luis Suárez (not the ex Liverpool and Barça player now at Atlético) was the only Spanish-born footballer to win the award in 1960 while at Inter Milan. Argentinian-born Alfredo Di Stefano, the Real Madrid star who took up Spanish citizenship, also won it in 1959.

Who is Alexia Putellas?

Alexia Putellas grew up dreaming of playing for Barcelona and after clinching the treble of league, cup and Champions League last season, her status as a women’s footballing icon was underlined as she claimed the Ballon d’Or on Monday.

Unlike the men’s side, Barca’s women swept the board last term with the 27-year-old, who wears “Alexia” on the back of her shirt, at the forefront, months before Lionel Messi’s emotional departure.

Attacker Putellas, who turns 28 in February, spent her childhood less than an hour’s car journey from the Camp Nou and she made her first trip to the ground from her hometown of Mollet del Valles, for the Barcelona derby on January 6, 2000.

Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas (R) vies with VfL Wolfsburg's German defender Kathrin Hendrich
Putellas plays as a striker for Barça and Spain. GABRIEL BOUYS / POOL / AFP

Exactly 21 years later she became the first woman in the modern era to score in the stadium, against Espanyol. Her name was engraved in the club’s history from that day forward, but her story started much earlier.

She started playing the sport in school, against boys.

“My mum had enough of me coming home with bruises on my legs, so she signed me up at a club so that I stopped playing during break-time,” Putellas said last year.

So, with her parent’s insistence, she joined Sabadell before being signed by Barca’s academy.

“That’s where things got serious… But you couldn’t envisage, with all one’s power, to make a living from football,” she said.

After less than a year with “her” outfit, she moved across town to Espanyol and made her first-team debut in 2010 before losing to Barca in the final of the Copa de la Reina.

She then headed south for a season at Valencia-based club Levante before returning “home” in July 2012, signing for Barcelona just two months after her father’s death.

In her first term there she helped Barca win the league and cup double, winning the award for player of the match in the final of the latter competition.