View from Spain: Sergio Ramos becomes SpainÃ¢ÂÂs Braveheart
Merciful Zeus, thereÃ¢ÂÂs some big man-love (and lady-love) towards Sergio Ã¢ÂÂTarzanÃ¢ÂÂ Ramos in Spain on Thursday Ã¢ÂÂ and why shouldnÃ¢ÂÂt there be for a footballer who is such a fine defender, has cojones made of brass and a cool stick-on beard.
The Real Madrid centre-back is the latest winner of the Ã¢ÂÂhero of the hourÃ¢ÂÂ award for la Roja, taking the trophy from Xabi Alonso after a solid display at the back against Portugal and then a cheeky penalty at the end, quite the response to his missed effort in the Champions League against Bayern Munich.
TomÃÂ¡s Roncero in AS is leading the love-charge to the front of the queue to give Ramos a hearty hug with his declaration that Ã¢ÂÂSergio is a medieval knight who pulled Excalibur from the stone, the Braveheart who nearly breaks his neck listening to the anthem of Spain, this country and this badge that he loves above anything else.Ã¢ÂÂ RonceroÃ¢ÂÂs AS colleagues seem to agree by giving the centre-back four out of three for his display.
"Oh get up, you diving tart..."
The semi-final sums up Spain's overall performance in the previous two matches Ã¢ÂÂ not great, but just enough to get through to the next stage, if on this occasion only by the hairs on the countryÃ¢ÂÂs chinny-chin-chin.
Ã¢ÂÂOK, it wasnÃ¢ÂÂt a great game,Ã¢ÂÂ admits AS editor Alfredo RelaÃÂ±o. Ã¢ÂÂWe werenÃ¢ÂÂt better than Portugal, but neither were we worse. We didnÃ¢ÂÂt do much, barely shot at goal; we were cautious, although no more than Portugal.Ã¢ÂÂ
MarcaÃ¢ÂÂs front cover applauds the countryÃ¢ÂÂs Ã¢ÂÂheroesÃ¢ÂÂ in a somewhat over-the-top manner, and has praise for Cesc Fabregas who volunteered to take his sideÃ¢ÂÂs fifth penalty. Ã¢ÂÂTo the final, and to history,Ã¢ÂÂ declares the paperÃ¢ÂÂs banner on Thursday.
However, thereÃ¢ÂÂs a timely warning from former AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid boss Gregorio Manzano, saying that Spain will need to buck their ideas up on Sunday if they are to make history and become the first team to win the Euros, World Cup and then the Euros again. Ã¢ÂÂUntil now, weÃ¢ÂÂve dreamt about being in the final,Ã¢ÂÂ writes Manzano, Ã¢ÂÂnow we have to wake up to become champions.Ã¢ÂÂ
ItÃ¢ÂÂs the same got-away-with-that-one vibe in Barcelona, with Sport's Josep Maria Casanovas writing that Spain Ã¢ÂÂdid not have a great game but achieved a great successÃ¢ÂÂ. The paper also takes great delight in noting a quote from German tabloid Bild, which writes that Ã¢ÂÂthere was one consolation for Ronaldo: after more than 120 minutes of football his gelled hair-do was perfect.Ã¢ÂÂ
Mundo Deportivo also take delight at a poke in the direction of the very Real Madrid Cristiano Ronaldo, with JM Artells writing (while forgetting C-Ron's goal at the Camp Nou and Copa del Rey final) that Ã¢ÂÂonce more, Cristiano disappeared in big games. He did nothing memorable in WednesdayÃ¢ÂÂs semi.Ã¢ÂÂ
Nevertheless, after what was a very tense night indeed itÃ¢ÂÂs RonaldoÃ¢ÂÂs Real Madrid team-mate that has won all the plaudits.