Five things we learnt from Spain 2-1 Germany

Spain knocked home nation Germany out of EURO2024 with a 2-1 win at the Stuttgart Arena in the first of the four quarter-finals.

Dani Olmo and Florian Wirtz’s second-half goals set up a mouthwatering extra 30 minutes, and it was Mikel Merino’s last-gasp header that sent the Spanish fans into semi-final bound jubilation.

Here are five things we learnt from an enthralling repeat of the 2010 World Cup final.

Embed from Getty Images

Spain become heavy tournament favourites

Coming into this tournament, there were many teams on the lips of fans and journalists alike as EURO2024 winner predictions were made. Nations such as hosts Germany, England, France, and Portugal were commonplace in the discussions, but a new-look Spain side were often dismissed.

Their golden generation has been and gone, with 2010 World Cup and 2012 European Championship victories leaving big shoes to fill. Up until now, La Roja have been multiple sizes too small – but Luis de la Fuente’s men have a serious shot at bringing silverware back to ‘The Land of the Siesta’ this time around.

This evening’s quarter-final clash against Germany was predicted by many to essentially be an early tournament final; with the two best-performing sides clashing horns, an early exit for either would be a disappointment. It was a closely-fought encounter, but Spain’s last-minute winner from Mikel Merino leaves them just two wins away from European success once again.

The boys in red will face the winner of France v Portugal in the semi-finals, both of whom have produced underwhelming campaigns thus far. Spain will enter that match as heavy favourites regardless of who they face, and look likely to meet England in the final – another team struggling to find their form on the big stage.

Pedri’s injury woes continue

For all of his spell-binding talent, there is one thing plaguing the career of Barcelona youngster Pedri, and which may hold him back as his career progresses – and that is his miserable injury record.

Embed from Getty Images

Since the 2021/22 season, the Blaugrana midfielder has spent a mammoth 435 days sidelined through injury, missing 85 matches in the process. It is a truly damning record dominated largely by recurring hamstring issues, and getting forced off the pitch just eight measly minutes into the Germany clash.

Heavy contact in a collision with Toni Kroos sent the 21-year-old tumbling to the ground in what could potentially be a left knee injury cutting short his EURO2024 journey. Someone of his age and talent should not have spent so much of his career watching from the sidelines.

Pedri is an exceptional player with the potential to have an illustrious and fruitful career for both club and country, and it is such a pitiful shame for his injury woes to continue their burdensome grip on his potential.

Wasteful Havertz a worrying sign for Arsenal

They may have lost the match, but Germany certainly had plenty of opportunities to rewrite their EURO2024 history. The biggest chances for Die Nationalmannschaft fell for Kai Havertz, but the striker could not convert those chances into goals.

Before being substituted in the 91st minute by Julian Nagelsmann, the 25-year-old missed two ‘big chances’ from four shots at Unai Simón’s goal. On another day, he could’ve bagged a couple of goals to send his nation through to the final four, but it simply wasn’t to be today.

Havertz’s domestic club, Arsenal, boast a very strong squad all across the pitch and are only getting stronger with time. One style of player oftentimes touted as the missing piece of the puzzle for the Gunners, though, is a cutthroat finisher leading the line.

Embed from Getty Images

Having signed the German from rivals Chelsea for £65m last summer, it took Mikel Arteta a while to figure out exactly what to do with his new man. He began life at the Emirates Stadium as a midfielder, before being moved to the striker position and finally reaching a promising vein of form – but his finishing has caused concern amongst the Arsenal fanbase.

The north London club will be hoping Havertz can take this side of his game to a whole new level ahead of the upcoming Premier League season. If this performance is anything to go by, however, it may be another mixed bag of a campaign.

Toni Kroos bids farewell to the beautiful game

Germany’s quarter-final exit from EURO2024 has seen the end of an illustrious career for one of the best midfielders of this generation. 34-year-old Toni Kroos announced he would be retiring from both domestic and international football this summer in what was a shock to the footballing world.

His Real Madrid career couldn’t have ended in a better fashion, with Los Blancos winning a record-extending 15th Champions League title alongside La Liga and the Spanish Super Cup. Kroos’ final international tournament taking place on home soil ensured he’d get the send-off he so deserved.

His final football match wasn’t his best in terms of performance, with the midfielder finding himself relatively lucky to survive the 120 minutes without severe punishment from referee Anthony Taylor. It will in no way stain his remarkable career, though.

Embed from Getty Images

With one World Cup, six Champions Leagues, four La Ligas, three Bundesligas, and countless other cups and medals, Toni Kroos leaves the sport of football as a paragon of the game.

Spain will have a new-look defence next time out

With the sending off of Dani Carvajal in the dying minutes of extra-time, Spain’s vastly experienced right-back will be suspended for the semi-finals, as will centre-back Robin Le Normand.

It may appear as though Carvajal’s red card gravely let his nation down ahead of a very important upcoming match, but it was actually an extremely clever and in-the-moment action to take. With the Real Madrid full-back having already received too many yellow cards, he already found himself suspended for the semi-finals.

His last-second red card, though inconsequential to his suspension, stopped a marauding Germany side in their attacking tracks as they searched for a last-gasp equaliser to take the tie to a nail-biting penalty shootout.

Fellow Madrid man Nacho Fernández is likely to replace Le Normand at the heart of the defence, and Jesus Navas might well be the man to step in for Carvajal on the right-hand side. They are two big changes to have to make at this stage of the tournament, but Spain will have to make things work if they are to advance to the EURO2024 final.

Embed from Getty Images

For more comprehensive analysis of Spain v Germany and the rest of the tournament, stick around on FromTheSpot. Follow our X account to stay in the loop with all the latest.