Since 1964, on the four occasions that the national team reached the penultimate round, it ended up entering the game for the title. She was only defeated in the 1984 final

Maceda (right) scored the goal for Denmark that led to penalties in France’84.GETTY

From the top of the steep St. Petersburg Stadium you can see the infinite aspect of the Baltic Sea. There, under a sky that never gets dark, Spain dawned again, infinite and unexpected to reach the Eurocup semifinals for the fifth time in its history. From that first stamp from 1964 to this one from 2021, after a penalty shoot-out where the name of Unai Simn was recorded, as it did in 2008 or 2012 that of Iker Casillas.

All of them led to a final. And only one left a trail of thorns that still sting today. The Spain of Luis Enrique, like the Forest, Luis Aragons, Miguel Muoz O Jos Villalonga it enters a semifinals that, by tradition, are usually accompanied by a final. It will be in London, next Tuesday, where the fate of this young and intrepid national team is decided, who left the exuberant Russian city with the sound of ‘Que viva Espaa’ by Manolo Escobar resounding in his head.

From that last conquest at the Kiev Olympics, nine years ago (2012), there is still some trace on this team. Nobody forgets that race to infinity of Jordi Alba, who yesterday regained ownership and was guilty of the goal from Spain, to leave the middle title involved before the break of a historic win in the final against Italy (4-0). Also Sergio Busquets, lieutenant of Xavi Hernndez Y Xabi Alonso, in Vicente Del Bosque’s drawing. It was precisely Alonso, with a double against France, who embarked the national team in the semifinals. In the penalty shootout, Portugal ended up getting out of the way.

Cesc Fbregas, in the final penalty against Portugal at Euro 2012.
Cesc Fbregas, in the final penalty against Portugal at Euro 2012.EFE

From 2008, remains the happy aroma of that unforgettable catharsis of Spanish football. In Vienna, under the helm of Luis, La Roja became invincible. Although for this it was necessary to break that curse of the quarterfinals that seemed to be part of that tragic destiny that was accompanying the selection. Imperial appeared Iker Casillas in the penalty shootout against Italy, executed in the last by Cesc Fbregas, an unknown pitcher for Buffon. And on that same lawn at Ernst Happel in Vienna, as a prelude, Spain pushed Russia aside and finished off Germany with an indelible goal from Fernando Torres. With that lost ball that ended up chasing an entire country until Jens Lehmann, defeated on the table, he began to admit defeat.

Dani Giza scores 2-0 in the Euro 2008 semi-final against Russia.
Dani Giza scores 2-0 in the Euro 2008 semi-final against Russia.GETTY

Luis Enrique was a kid from Mareo’s football school, who still had nightmares about the hit from Spain in the World’82, when to Arconada that shot of lack of control slipped into his arms. Michel platini. So far that tragedy in Paris, before a favorite France, has been the only stumbling block. In those days, from the group stage you went directly to the semifinals, as only eight teams fought for the title. In that penultimate round, the Denmark of Laudrup Y Lerby was separated in the penalty kicks (the result was 1-1, with a goal from Maceda) on the grass of the Gerland stadium in Lyon.

But it was in Spain, at the Santiago Bernabu, where it all began. Where the selection won its first European Championship, in 1964, against the Soviet Union. The narration of the goal of Marcelino It is part of the history of Spanish football. Hungary (2-1) had been the victim on the penultimate step towards that first happy ending in Madrid, when many of the parents of this generation had not even been born.

Saint Petersburg and its imperial stadium sponsored by the global gas giant Gazprom is already part of the history of the Spanish team. A point of support towards London, after a European Championship in which no one (except Luis Enrique) expected to see Spain on this penultimate step towards glory. A place where selection has never failed. It has always led to a fight for the crown. Four semifinals, four tickets to the final. Next Tuesday, within the walls of the renovated Wembley, they will fight to stay true to their tradition.

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