EURO 2008: all you need to know

Spain shone, with the final scoreline deceptive; wind back to the finals in Austria and Switzerland.

Xavi Hernández steers in the opening semi-final goal against Russia at UEFA Euro 2008
Xavi Hernández steers in the opening semi-final goal against Russia at UEFA Euro 2008 AFP via Getty Images

Who won EURO 2008?

Spain beat Germany 1-0 in the UEFA EURO 2008 final in Vienna on 29 June 2008, but Fernando Torres's goal on 33 minutes was perhaps the least La Roja deserved from a game they utterly dominated. In the course of the decider at the Ernst-Happel-Stadion in Vienna, Spain had seven shots on target while Joachim Löw's side mustered just one. Fielded as a lone striker, match-winner Torres said: "[The result] was good not only for Spain but also for football, as the best team won and that's not always the case." Few disagreed.

Who were the top scorers at EURO 2008?

EURO 2008 final highlights: Spain 1-0 Germany
EURO 2008 final highlights: Spain 1-0 Germany

David Villa missed Spain's final win against Germany through injury but had the tiny consolation of ending the tournament as EURO 2008's four-goal top scorer. The Valencia striker kicked off with a hat-trick in a 4-1 victory over Russia (which he called "the best game of my life") and hit a late winner in the next game against Sweden. He scored a national-record 59 goals in his 98 Spain appearances.

The top scorer in qualifying was Northern Ireland's David Healy whose record 13-goal qualifying haul included a hat-trick in a 3-2 win against eventual EURO champions Spain and another treble against Liechtenstein. He received a special UEFA award for his scoring feat, and remains his country’s all-time top international scorer with 35 strikes in 95 matches.

Where was EURO 2008 held?

David Villa: EURO 2008 top scorer
David Villa: EURO 2008 top scorer

Neighbours Austria and Switzerland co-hosted the 2008 UEFA European Championship, with four venues in each nation. Basel's St.Jakob-Park staged the opening game, with Berne (Stade de Suisse), Geneva (Stade de Genève) and Zurich (Letzigrund) also hosting games in Switzerland. Vienna's Ernst-Happel-Stadion was Austria's main venue – and the arena used for the final – with other games held in Innsbruck (Tivoli-Neu), Klagenfurt (Wörthersee Stadion) and Salzburg (Stadion Wals-Siezenheim).

Who managed the winning team at EURO 2008?

Luis Aragonés led Spain to glory at EURO 2008. Famous for his long association with Atlético Madrid – as a player and a coach – he took charge in July 2004 when aged 65 and remoulded the team to chime with the 'tiki-taka' short-passing style then prevalent at Barcelona. He stepped down in the wake of the EURO 2008 victory, proud of a job well done, calling his side "a model for playing football". Aragonés died, aged 75, in 2014.

Who was the winning captain at EURO 2008?

Iker Casillas captained Spain's EURO-winning side in 2008
Iker Casillas captained Spain's EURO-winning side in 2008Getty Images

Iker Casillas became the first goalkeeper to captain a team to the EURO title in 2008. The Real Madrid No1 was still just 27 at the finals but boasted huge experience at the highest levels, including two UEFA Champions League crowns, though he admitted to a few nerves before the final. "I feel responsible for my team-mates and 44 million people," he said. He went on to win the 2010 FIFA World Cup and EURO 2012 with Spain, and was still playing well into his 30s.

What was the format for EURO 2008?

Staged from 7 June to 29 June, EURO 2008 deployed a similar format to the previous three editions of the tournament, with the top two sides in each of the four four-team groups (three points for a win, one for a draw) moving into the knockout phase. As a new experiment, teams in Groups A and B were separated from teams in Groups C and D until the final.

How many teams featured at EURO 2008?

There were 16 sides at the final tournament, while 50 UEFA member countries participated in qualifying (excluding co-hosts Austria and Switzerland).

How did EURO 2008 qualifying work?

With Austria and Switzerland qualifying automatically as hosts, the remaining 50 UEFA nations entered a qualifying competition which involved seven groups (six made up of seven teams, one made up of eight teams). The seven group winners and runners-up qualified for the finals directly.

Who was in the EURO 2008 squad of the tournament?

 Xavi Hernández was named EURO 2008 Player of the Tournament
Xavi Hernández was named EURO 2008 Player of the TournamentAFP via Getty Images

Spain's Xavi Hernández was named Player of the Tournament, UEFA technical director Andy Roxburgh commenting: "He was extremely influential in the whole possession, passing, penetrating kind of game that Spain played." UEFA’s 23-man squad of the tournament was:

GK: Gianluigi Buffon (Italy)
GK: Iker Casillas (Spain)
GK: Edwin van der Sar (Netherlands)
DF: Bosingwa (Portugal)
DF: Philipp Lahm (Germany)
DF: Carlos Marchena (Spain)
DF: Pepe (Portugal)
DF: Carles Puyol (Spain)
DF: Yuri Zhirkov (Russia)
MF: Hamit Altıntop (Turkey)
MF: Luka Modrić (Croatia)
MF: Marcos Senna (Spain)
MF: Xavi Hernández (Spain)
MF: Konstantin Zyryanov (Russia)
MF: Michael Ballack (Germany)
MF: Cesc Fàbregas (Spain)
MF: Andrés Iniesta (Spain)
MF: Lukas Podolski (Germany)
MF: Wesley Sneijder (Netherlands)
FW: Andrei Arshavin (Russia)
FW: Roman Pavlyuchenko (Russia)
FW: Fernando Torres (Spain)
FW: David Villa (Spain)

Who scored the first goal at EURO 2008?

Substitute Václav Svĕrkoš of the Czech Republic silenced the home crowd at St.Jakob-Park by scoring the first goal of EURO 2008, as Switzerland lost the 7 June opening game. The low finish was the first of three international goals for the then 24-year-old, who had been the Czech league's 15-goal top scorer in 2007/08 with Baník Ostrava. However, he did not make another appearance at the finals.

Great EURO 2008 saves: Casillas, Buffon and more
Great EURO 2008 saves: Casillas, Buffon and more

Goce Sedloski of North Macedonia (then known as FYR Macedonia) got the only goal in the 71st minute as his side won 1-0 against Estonia in Tallinn in the first EURO 2008 qualifier, on 16 August 2006. The defender spent the most successful years of his playing career in Croatia with Dinamo Zagreb and retired from international football with exactly 100 caps.

Five top facts about EURO 2008

• Ivan Klasnić scored for Croatia at the finals, having come to the EURO 15 months after undergoing two kidney transplants.

• Austria's Ivica Vastic scored a late penalty in a group stage game against Poland to become the oldest EURO scorer to date at 38 years and 257 days.

• Over 100,000 Netherlands fans came to Berne for the Oranje's game against France, instantly doubling the population of the Swiss federal capital.

• Coach Luis Aragonés did not approve of Spain's yellow change shirt, explaining: "I don't like this new colour, but so long as I don't have to wear it, the players can. Anyway, it's not yellow, it's mustard."

• Xavi Hernández reckoned EURO 2008 was a victory for "the little guys"; the 1.70m-tall midfielder touted the importance of Spain's small, skilful players like Andrés Iniesta, Santi Cazorla, Cesc Fàbregas, David Silva and David Villa, explaining: "We proved to the world that you can win in style."

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