So I maybe once or twice stated quite categorically that Spain didn't have the mental strength or team ethic to win the European Championships.
Hmmm. It sppears they were much better than I expected. Well done to them - I don't begrudge them a win as there has rarely been a country whose international trophy haul belies the talent they have been able to draw on (except for Holland and to a lesser extent England, I suppose). Clearly they have some good players, and the introduction of (Brazilian) Marcos Senna seems to have been the glue that held the side together this time.
Was it a good tournament? I'm not sure it was any better or worse than previous Championships to be honest. There were some nice moments - the Turks "never say die" attitude was a delight, as was the Dutch's early promise but ultimately it petered out when the knockout stages began.
One thing I am in entire agreement with Martin Samuel about, though, is the format for the tournament. Sometime in 2002 (to accommodate teams based either in South Korea or in Japan) the format was tweaked so teams in the same half of the draw were able to meet each other twice before the Final.
For example, Turkey had to play Brazil in the group stages in 2002 and also in the semi-final. This time around Russia faced the Spanish twice in both group stage and semi-final.
There should be no way that a time has to face another more than once unless the trophy itself is at stake. Clearly it is possible two teams might face each other twice in any given tournament but this should never be allowed to happen until the final itself. Changing the format again to ensure this is the case shouldn't take much, and considering the tournament is about to be expanded to 24 teams anyway (a ridiculous idea which will dilute further the quality of the competition - when UEFA has 53 members it means that almost half will end up at the Finals) it should be near the top opf the agenda when the tournament schedule is designed.
In the meantime, congratulations to Spain - worthy winners.