View from Spain: Sergio Ramos becomes Spain’s Braveheart

Merciful Zeus, there’s some big man-love (and lady-love) towards Sergio ‘Tarzan’ Ramos in Spain on Thursday – and why shouldn’t 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 ‘hero of the hour’ 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.

Tomás Roncero in AS is leading the love-charge to the front of the queue to give Ramos a hearty hug with his declaration that “Sergio 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.” Roncero’s 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 – not great, but just enough to get through to the next stage, if on this occasion only by the hairs on the country’s chinny-chin-chin.

“OK, it wasn’t a great game,” admits AS editor Alfredo Relaño. “We weren’t better than Portugal, but neither were we worse. We didn’t do much, barely shot at goal; we were cautious, although no more than Portugal.”

Marca’s front cover applauds the country’s ‘heroes’ in a somewhat over-the-top manner, and has praise for Cesc Fabregas who volunteered to take his side’s fifth penalty. “To the final, and to history,” declares the paper’s banner on Thursday.

However, there’s a timely warning from former Atlético 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. “Until now, we’ve dreamt about being in the final,” writes Manzano, “now we have to wake up to become champions.”

It’s the same got-away-with-that-one vibe in Barcelona, with Sport's Josep Maria Casanovas writing that Spain “did not have a great game but achieved a great success”. The paper also takes great delight in noting a quote from German tabloid Bild, which writes that “there was one consolation for Ronaldo: after more than 120 minutes of football his gelled hair-do was perfect.”

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 “once more, Cristiano disappeared in big games. He did nothing memorable in Wednesday’s semi.”

Nevertheless, after what was a very tense night indeed it’s Ronaldo’s Real Madrid team-mate that has won all the plaudits.