Soccer / Spanish PM Says Title Is First of Many

Newspapers all over Europe celebrated Spain's victory over Germany in the Euro 2008 final on Sunday with headlines like "Viva Espana." They also cheered the offensive and upbeat soccer the Spaniards played. The French sports newspaper L'Equipe heralded the "new consquistadores," and the Polish Super Express claimed the victory in the name of "attractive soccer." Even the British press complimented the Spanish with The Sun voicing concern that the English team's absence from the tournament was not even felt.

In Spain, throngs of people celebrated on the streets into the early hours of the morning. The two largest sports newspapers' front pages were plastered with pictures of Spanish captain Iker Casillas holding up the trophy underneath a "We are the champions" headline. Local media showered praise on the national team's teamwork.

"David Villa was great against Russia and Sweden, Xabi Alonso excelled against Greece, Iker Casillas proved his worth against Italy, Cesc Fabregas shone in the semis, and Fernando Torres stole the fame in the finals," the La Marca paper wrote.

Coach Luis Aragones, whose substitutions during the tournament as well as his selection of players were often criticized, was also proclaimed a genius.

"Aragones was the hero, the savoir, the key to success," the Sport newspaper wrote.

Spanish Prime Mi nister Jose Luis Zapatero repeatedly praised Torrres, the scorer of the winning goal against Germany, adding that he was confident the title was only the first of many to come. "This is just the beginning, the best is still ahead," he said. "Now we have to win the World Cup."

Meanwhile, the German newspapers admitted the Spanish team played better than their own. Forward Michael Ballack took much of the heat, as did sweepers Christoph Metzelder and Per Mertesacker.

The German papers also debated whether goalie Jens Lehmann will retire from the international team. The 38-year-old Lehmann has yet to announce his decision, but some called for him to be replaced with 23-year-old Rene Adler. Despite their defeat, the German team was greeted by 600,000 thankful countrymen upon return.