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Euro Final a Clash of Polar Opposites

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The final was supposed to be a battle between the two schools of proactive soccer. On the one side Spain, the increasingly cautious protectors of the ball, a side that has used its mastery of possession to prevent the opposition from playing; on the other, Germany, having moved away from the reactivity of the last World Cup, playing in a more carefree way. It's a battle, in a sense, between the bloodless purists and the more visceral entertainers.

Except Germany took too many risks and defended atrociously against Italy, who, if it hadn't been dreadfully reckless in the second half, would have won its semifinal far more comfortably. The problems hinted at earlier in the tournament in the Bastian Schweinsteiger-Sami Khedira combination were exposed again. Khedira has become a more complete player -- a better player, even -- in his time at Real Madrid, but that has...

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