Euro 2024: Spain vs. Germany, 2-1, AET

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Stuttgart, Germany – The opening of the Euro 2024 quarterfinals was marked by aggression, counterattacks, farewells, and uncertainty. What was anticipated as an early final lived up to its billing, but only from the second half onward.

Spain emerged victorious thanks to goals from Dani Olmo and Mikel Merino. This match also marked the end of Toni Kroos’s career at the age of 34.

First Half: Physical and Tense

Eight minutes into the match, with goal opportunities still far from materializing, Pedri left the field and the tournament due to a knee injury inflicted by veteran Toni Kroos. Despite his aggression, Kroos avoided a booking, leaving Spanish fans dismayed.

The first half saw numerous fouls, physical confrontations, and yellow cards. Fifteen minutes in, Yamal threatened with a direct free kick. Despite a lackluster first half, Unai Simón had to make a save in the 35th minute when Havertz took advantage of defensive disarray, though his shot was weak.

By halftime, ball recoveries (25-16) were crucial for launching counterattacks. However, frequent fouls (8-7) stifled forward momentum, and both Neuer and Unai Simón enjoyed relative tranquility as most shots came from long range.

Second Half: A Shift in Momentum

At halftime, coaches sparked life into the game with substitutions. Andrich and Wirtz replaced Emre Can and Sané for Germany, while Nacho came on for Le Normand for Spain.

Early in the second half, Spain’s attacking trio set the tone for the semifinals. In the 47th minute, Nico passed to Yamal, who then served Morata in the heart of the area. However, the Spanish captain turned and shot over the bar.

Five minutes later, Spain confirmed their dominance. Morata, from midfield, initiated a run by Yamal on the right. The winger zigzagged into the box, finding Dani Olmo, who calmly slotted the ball past Neuer, igniting Spanish hopes.

In response, Julian Nagelsmann made bold substitutions, bringing on Mittelstädt and Füllkrug for Gundogan and Raum, pushing Germany forward. The hosts struggled against the pace of Yamal and Williams but continued to resist.

Amidst yellow cards, substitutions, and crossing attempts, Füllkrug rattled Unai Simón’s left post in the 77th minute following a right-sided build-up. Havertz, capitalizing on an error by the Spanish goalkeeper, attempted a chip that brushed the top netting.

With time running out, German despair grew while Spanish hope soared. Finally, in the 90th minute, Kimmich retrieved the ball on the touchline and Wirtz fired in the equalizer.

Extra Time: Merino’s Decisive Moment

Extra time began with 30 fouls on the board. In the 105+1 minute, Wirtz came close, shaving the post. Unai Simón then denied a promising header from Füllkrug in the 118th minute.

In the final minutes, Spain pushed forward, aiming to avoid penalties. In the 120th minute, Merino, introduced half an hour earlier, rose to head a cross past Neuer, sealing the victory.

Beyond the additional time, Carvajal received a second yellow card and will be suspended for the semifinals, although this did not detract from the joy of the Spanish team.

The match concluded with 38 fouls and 16 cards, symbolizing Spain’s confirmation as a formidable team in this tournament, Germany’s offensive end, and the retirement of Toni Kroos.

Upcoming Match: Semifinal Showdown

Spain will face either Portugal or France in Munich on Tuesday night (8 PM). Luis de la Fuente’s squad will be without the suspended Dani Carvajal and Le Normand and the injured Pedri.

This victory allows Spain to surpass their 2016 and 2021 campaigns.

Player of the Match: Dani Olmo

Substituted for Pedri in the fifth minute, Dani Olmo commanded transitions and maintained an offensive threat. He linked well with Morata, Nico Williams, and Lamine Yamal, exploiting Germany’s defensive weaknesses. Olmo opened the scoring and managed the game’s tempo effectively.

With Pedri out for the remainder of the tournament, Olmo is set to become an undisputed starter in the heart of Spain’s midfield.

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