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Spain aim to end drought against Germany

Spain will seek to end their 44-year wait for silverware when they take on Germany in the final of UEFA EURO 2008™ at Vienna's Ernst-Happel-Stadion on Sunday.

Spain celebrate their semi-final win over Russia
Spain celebrate their semi-final win over Russia ©Getty Images

Spain will seek to end their 44-year wait for silverware when they take on Germany in the final of UEFA EURO 2008™ in Vienna.

• Spain's sole previous success on the international stage came in 1964, when as hosts they defeated the USSR to win the UEFA European Championship.

• Standing in their way, however, are the most formidable opponents in the history of the competition. Germany are competing in a record sixth final – and aiming to lift the Henri Delaunay trophy for the fourth time after earlier triumphs in 1972, 1980 and 1996.

• Joachim Löw's Germany reached the final by defeating Turkey 3-2 in a compelling semi-final contest in Basel on Wednesday. After falling behind to Uğur Boral's 22nd-minute strike, Bastian Schweinsteiger drew Germany level four minutes later. Miroslav Klose's 79th-minute header then sparked a frantic finale in which Semih Şentürk drew Turkey level again before Philipp Lahm's last-minute winner.

• Spain followed Germany into the final 24 hours later with a resounding 3-0 victory against Russia in Vienna. Luis Aragonés's men did not look back after Xavi Hernández had volleyed them in front five minutes into the second period, adding further goals through Daniel Güiza (73) and David Silva (82).

• If Spain can take the final step and defeat Germany, their coach Aragonés will become the oldest man to guide a team to UEFA European Championship glory. He will be 69 years and 338 days old on the day of the final.

• Spain are aiming to become the first team since France in 1984 to capture the UEFA European Championship following a clean sweep of wins in the group stage.

• They began impressively with David Villa scoring a hat-trick in a 4-1 defeat of Russia. With his three goals (20, 44, 75), Villa became the first player since 2000 to score a hat-trick on this illustrious stage before setting up the fourth goal for Cesc Fàbregas (90+1) after Roman Pavlyuchenko (86) had reduced the deficit.

• Spain then beat Sweden 2-1 in their second Group D outing, Villa scoring the winner two minutes into added time after Fernando Torres (15) and Zlatan Ibrahimović (34) had swapped goals. With that success, Spain secured first place in the section and maintained their momentum by then defeating Greece 2-1 through a Güiza strike two minutes from the end after Rubén de la Red (61) had cancelled out Angelos Charisteas's first-half effort.

• Spain strengthened the feeling that this might be their year by overcoming world champions Italy in the quarter-finals. No Spanish team had beaten Italy in a competitive fixture since 1920 but Aragonés's side laid to rest that hoodoo with a 4-2 penalty shoot-out victory after a goalless draw.

• After Iker Casillas had saved penalties from Daniele De Rossi and Antonio Di Natale, Fàbregas stepped up to send Spain into the last four. Of Spain's four other takers, Villa, Santi Cazorla and Marcos Senna all scored before Güiza was foiled by Gianluigi Buffon.

• With four goals, Spain striker Villa leads the scorers' chart ahead of the final and could become the first player since Marco van Basten in 1988 to celebrate winning the trophy and finish outright top scorer at the same time.

• Germany began their campaign in Group B by defeating Poland 2-0 through two goals from Lukas Podolski but they then suffered a hiccup when losing 2-1 to Croatia, Podolski's 79th-minute effort scant consolation after Darijo Srna and Ivica Olić had struck for the opposition.

• Löw's men recovered sufficient composure to defeat co-hosts Austria 1-0 in Vienna, through Michael Ballack's second-half free-kick, and claim second place in the section and they then raised their game to eliminate Portugal in the quarter-finals. Germany raced into a 2-0 lead through goals from Schweinsteiger and Klose and although Nuno Gomes pulled one back, Ballack's headed third ensured a German victory despite Hélder Postiga's late reply for Portugal.

• Germany have won three and lost two of their five previous UEFA European Championship finals. German supporters of a superstitious bent may want to avoid studying their sequence of results, given each final victory (1972, 1980, 1996) has so far been followed by a defeat (1976, 1992).

• As West Germany, the Mannschaft claimed the Henri Delaunay trophy for the first time by defeating the USSR 3-0 in Brussels in 1972, Gerd Müller (27, 58) and Herbert Wimmer (52) the scorers.

• Four years later the Germans went down 5-3 on penalties to Czechoslovakia following a 2-2 draw in Belgrade but they bounced back in 1980 with a 2-1 final triumph against Belgium in Rome. Horst Hrubesch was the hero, getting the winner two minutes from time after René Vandereycken (75) had cancelled out his tenth-minute opener.

• After losing the 1992 final to Denmark in Gothenburg, Germany celebrated a third European crown at the next tournament in England. Oliver Bierhoff, now the Mannschaft's team manager, was the hero at Wembley, cancelling out Patrik Berger's penalty (59) with a 73rd-minute header before striking the winner five minutes into extra time with the first-ever golden goal.

• This is the third time Spain have contested the final of the UEFA European Championship.

• Spain lifted the Henri Delaunay trophy in 1964 when they beat reigning champions USSR 2-1 in Madrid. 'Chus' Pereda opened the scoring for Spain inside six minutes at the Santiago Bernabéu and although Galimzian Khusainov drew the Soviets level two minutes later, Marcelino made sure of a home triumph with Spain's second goal after 84 minutes.

• Twenty years later they lost the 1984 final to hosts France, succumbing to goals from Michel Platini (57) and Bruno Bellone (90) at the Parc des Princes.

• Germany have had the better of the sides' head-to-head meetings, recording eight wins to Spain's five with six matches drawn.

• Spain won the most recent encounter 3-1 in Palma de Mallorca on 12 February 2003. Raúl González opened the scoring after 32 minutes and although Fredi Bobic (38) equalised for Germany, Raúl restored Spain's advantage with a 77th-minute penalty before Guti (83) added a third.

• The teams that day were:
Spain: Iker Casillas (Santiago Cañizares 84), Míchel Salgado, Carles Puyol, César Martín (Iván Helguera 46), Agustín Aranzábal, Joaquín Sánchez (Jose María Etxeberría 69), David Albelda, Rubén Baraja (Guti 74), Vicente Rodríguez, Raúl González (José Mari 84), Diego Tristán (Xavi Hernández 74).

Germany: Oliver Kahn, Arne Friedrich, Christian Wörns, Christoph Metzelder, Tobias Rau (Frank Baumann 51, Hannko Balitsch 62), Bernd Schneider (Paul Freier 74), Jens Jeremies, Carsten Ramelow, Jorg Böhme, Fredi Bobic (Benjamin Lauth 59), Miroslav Klose (Oliver Neuville 82).

• Ballack is the only survivor from the last occasion Germany beat Spain, a 4-1 victory for the Mannschaft in Hannover in August 2000, when Alexander Zickler and Mehmet Scholl struck two goals apiece.

• Germany have won three of the rivals' five previous encounters in major final tournaments.

• In UEFA European Championship final tournaments, though, it is honours even. Hosts West Germany defeated Spain 2-0 in the group stage in 1988 through two Rudi Völler goals, while four years previously Spain secured a last-gasp 1-0 victory against the Germans at the same stage of the competition. Antonio Maceda's 90th-minute header in Paris sent the Spanish into the semi-finals at the expense of the eliminated holders.

• On the FIFA World Cup stage, Germany came from behind to send Spain home from the 1966 finals, winning 2-1 in their deciding group game. The Mannschaft also ended Spain's interest in the 1982 World Cup after beating the hosts 2-1 in the second group stage. It finished 1-1 when the teams met for the third time in the World Cup in the first round at USA '94.

• As a player, Spain coach Aragonés did not enjoy good fortune against German opposition. He scored in extra time for Club Atlético de Madrid in the 1974 European Champion Clubs' Cup final against FC Bayern München in Brussels but the German side snatched a 120th-minute equaliser and went on to win the replay 4-0.

• Aragonés had earlier played in the Atlético side defeated 2-1 on aggregate by BV Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup quarter-finals in 1965/66.

• His first engagement with German opposition as a coach came in the 1975/76 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup second round against Eintracht Frankfurt, Aragonés's Atlético side going down 2-1 at home and 1-0 away. There was more disappointment in store against Hamburger SV in the semi-finals of the same competition the next season, when Atlético's 3-1 first-leg win was undone by a 3-0 reverse in Germany.

• Aragonés also tasted defeat with Atlético against 1. FC Dynamo Dresden in 1979/80 UEFA Cup first round and it was not until 1996/97 that he enjoyed his first success against a German club, his Valencia CF side running out 3-1 aggregate winners against then holders Bayern in the UEFA Cup first round. More disappointment was just around the corner, however, FC Schalke 04 defeating Valencia 3-1 over two legs in the quarter-finals en route to lifting the trophy.

• Germany coach Löw, by contrast, has never before met Spanish opposition as a head coach or player in official competition.

• Germany captain Ballack is aiming to avoid an unwanted double having finished on the losing side with Chelsea FC in last month's UEFA Champions League final.

• Only four players previously have made up for defeat in a European Cup final by winning the continental title in the same year with their country: Ignacio Zoco and Amancio Amaro (1964, Real Madrid CF and Spain) and Manny Kaltz and Hörst Hrubesch (1980, Hamburg and West Germany).

• Ballack has also experienced losing a final against Spanish opposition when Bayer 04 Leverkusen went down 2-1 to Real Madrid at the conclusion of the 2001/02 UEFA Champions League campaign. Spain goalkeeper Casillas finished on the opposing side that day after taking the field as a 68th-minute substitute.

• Germany goalkeeper Jens Lehmann suffered the same fate as Ballack with Arsenal FC in the 2005/06 UEFA Champions League final against an FC Barcelona side featuring Spanish internationals Carles Puyol and Andrés Iniesta. Xavi was an unused Barcelona substitute that night, while his Spain midfield colleague Fàbregas featured in the Arsenal team.

• Lehmann and Fàbregas are not the only rivals in Vienna with a club connection. Germany defender Christoph Metzelder is a team-mate of Spain duo Casillas and Sergio Ramos at Real Madrid CF, while Germany winger David Odonkor plays in the same Real Betis Balompié side as Spain centre-back Juanito.

• Germany have been involved in six penalty shoot-outs down the years. They lost the first against Czechoslovakia in the 1976 UEFA European Championship final but won the next five, beating France (1982 World Cup), Mexico (1986 World Cup), England (1990 World Cup), England (EURO '96™) and Argentina (2006 World Cup).

• Spain's shoot-out win against Italy was their third in six attempts. They beat Denmark 5-4 on penalties in the 1984 UEFA European Championship semi-finals but lost to Belgium in the 1986 World Cup quarter-finals and to England at the same stage of EURO '96™. After beating the Republic of Ireland on spot-kicks in the last 16 of the 2002 World Cup, in the next round they succumbed 5-3 in a shoot-out against Korea Republic.

• Xavi, Puyol, Joan Capdevila and Carlos Marchena were part of the Spain team beaten on penalties by Cameroon in the final of the 2000 Men's Olympic Football Tournament. Xavi and Capdevila scored the first two kicks for a Spain side beaten 5-3 in the shoot-out after a 2-2 draw.

• Torres scored the only goal of the 2002 UEFA European Under-19 Championship final against Germany in Oslo. Iniesta was also in the Spain team while Germany's side included Piotr Trochowski, Lahm and Odonkor. Twelve months earlier, Torres had struck the winner for Spain's U16s when they beat France 1-0 to claim the European title.

• Pepe Reina was in the Spain team that prevailed 4-0 against Germany in the semi-finals of the UEFA European U16 Championship in 1999. Thomas Hitzlsperger was on the losing team and the Spanish went on to beat Poland 4-1 in the final.

• Casillas helped Spain to a 2-1 win against Germany in the U16 semi-finals in 1997 before they subsequently defeated Austria on penalties in the final.

• At U17 level, Fàbregas was in the Spain side that lost 2-1 to France in the 2004 final, while Silva was in the team beaten by Portugal by the same scoreline a year earlier.

• This is the 13th edition of the UEFA European Championship. The rundown of previous finals is:
1960 USSR 2-1 Yugoslavia
1964 Spain 2-1 USSR
1968 Italy 2-0 Yugoslavia (replay after 1-1 draw)
1972 West Germany 3-0 USSR
1976 Czechoslovakia 2-2 West Germany (5-3 on penalties)
1980 West Germany 2-1 Belgium
1984 France 2-0 Spain
1988 Netherlands 2-0 USSR
1992 Denmark 2-0 Germany
1996 Germany 2-1 Czech Republic
2000 France 2-1 Italy
2004 Greece 1-0 Portugal

• Poland and Ukraine will stage the UEFA EURO 2012™ finals.