The applause resonated as far from Vienna as Madrid and Anfield on Sunday evening as a solitary strike from Liverpool’s very own Fernando Torres crowned the Spanish as worthy winners of Euro 2008 and granted Torres and co a place in the European football history. The victory has also been recieved as some what of triumph on Merseyside, as a Spain squad boasting four Liverpool players conquered Europe.
There has of course been no silverware for the Reds in 2008 but Liverpool football club can very much feel some role in a what was a thouroughly deserved tournament win, and one which was achieved through attractive attacking football. Torres has been quick to attribute part of his personal success to the expertise of the Liverpool staff and the backing of the clubs fans.
Euro 2008 has ended in success for a number of Reds, but it was a tournament which featured a relatively limited number of appearances from Liverpool players. From a Liverpool perspective the competition included 16 appearences, including 11 starts, and 3 goals. Aside from Torres, the other members of the Spainish squad experienced limited match action during their countries success. Xabi Alonso was largely used as a substitute, although he did put in a man of the match performance in his solitary start against Greece. Whilst Alvaro Arbeloa and Pepe Reina – who was forced to play second fidel to the excellent Spainsh captain Iker Casillas – made just one appearance each. However all can of course be ritefully proud of their roles in Spain’s first tournament win for 44 years.
Elsewhere, the other Anfield pre-tourmament favourites Holland, played some exciting counter-attacking football before their disappointing quater-final elimination at the hands of Russia. Ryan Babel’s pre-tournament injury unfortunatenly curtailed what had the makings of a promising and significant Euro’s for the young winger. That left Dirk Kuyt as the sole Liverpool representative in the Dutch squad. Prior to the tournamanet the industrious Dutch forward’s place in the Holland squad had apparently been under threat, however a combination of improved late season form and some conveniently timed injuries within the squad granted Kuyt a key starting role for the Dutch. Kuyt did not waste the opportunity and his typically hard working and reliable performances, allied with some skillful play and a goal against the French made Kuyt one of the star performers in Holland’s extremely impressive one hundred percent record in a tough group. The performances of Kuyt are one of the biggest positives for Liverpool fans to take from the tournament and will hopefully bode well for the new season.
The only other Liverpool affiliated player at the Euro’s, Phillip Degen, failed to play a single minute during the host nation Switzerland’s unsuccessful group campaign. So we were unable to determine what competition the full-back, signed from Borussia Dortmund, will provide for the likes of Steve Finnan and Alvaro Arbeloa next season.
As ever a major international competition is accompanied by frantic transfer speculation, and Euro 2008 and Liverpool football club has been no different. As usual, Spanish players have been prominent within any speculation associated with the Reds. The diminutive winger David Silva, who was a key perfomer throughout the tournament in an impressive Spanish midfield, has been strongly linked with a move away from a debt striken Valencia. Silva has recently been linked with Liverpool, and his skills, creativity and firepower would be a welcome addition to an area of the team which Benitez must seek to improve if such a deal were possible. One stunbling block to a deal may however be Valencia’s valuation of Silva, currently understood to be around Â£20 million, however the financial difficulities that the club are experiencing at present would likely warrant a lower offer to be accepted. Another Valencia star, David Villa, has been strongly linked with a move to the Premier League, and as would be expected nowadays of a Spaniard who has been in impressive form during a major competition, his name has been associated with Liverpool. However whether such a rumour has any substance appears unlikely at the moment.
A number of other relatively unknown players have come to the fore during Euro 2008 with the likes of Croatia, Russia and Turkey, and may well have attracted the attentions of Rafa and his scouting staff as the club looks a strengthen in time for next season. One such player is Russia dangerman Roman Pavlyachenko. Whilst it was Andrei Arshavin who grabbed all of the headlines, Pavlyachenko was often just as essential to his countries attacking threat. His three goals during Russia’s impressive run to the semi-finals has resulted in specualtion linking the forward to Liverpool, as Rafa is of course understood to be in search of reinforcements in the sriking department. The imposing strikers style could well be suited to the rigours of the Premier League. Although for the time being Benitez’s attentions appear concerted on other transfer targets closer to home, most notably Gareth Barry and Robbie Keane, as well as the imminent capture of Andrea Dossena from Udinese.