History calls for Vicente del Bosque's men but now they may have to beat a Germany side who believe victory is at hand
So Spain are just one win away from becoming the first nation to win three consecutive international tournaments. Little wonder, then, that the Spanish press are in buoyant, expectant mood following Wednesday night's Euro 2012 semi-final victory over Portugal in Donetsk.
"La estrella de España sigue brillando" runs the headline in Marca: "Spain's star still shines." "Iker y Cesc repiten la historia" goes another: "Iker and Cesc repeat history," a reference to the side's goalkeeper and midfielder playing crucial roles in the penalty shootout win four years after doing the same against Italy at the quarter-final stage of Euro 2008.
Speaking of the penalty shootout, there is rightly praise for Sergio Ramos after the defender's eye-catching "Panenka" kick. "Sergio Ramos se desquita del penalti fallado ante el Bayern emulando a Panenka ante Portugal," says Mundo Deportivo, making reference to the fact Ramos missed a penalty in Real Madrid's Champions League semi-final shootout defeat to Bayern Munich in April and, therefore, showed some guts to convert in style against Portgual.
Another man who also missed for Real in their shootout loss to Bayern was Cristiano Ronaldo, but unlike Ramos he did not get the chance to make amends in Wednesday's game after being Portugal's fifth and ultimately unused penalty-taker. Following the defeat to Spain, the forward insisted his decision not to step up earlier had nothing to do with what happened at the Bernabéu two months ago.
"Cristiano: 'No había fantasma por lo del Bayern'" is the headline in Marca: "Cristiano: 'there was no ghost from Bayern'".
Perhaps surprisingly, there is little noticable criticism directed towards Ronaldo in the Portuguese press, with most of the post-match reaction in praise of the spirit and endeavour shown by the national side against the reigning world and European champions.
"'Caímos como deve cair uma grande equipa, com honra e orgulho' vincou Paulo Bento" is typical of the headlines in Público: "'We fell as a great team should, with honour and pride,' said Paulo Bento." The Portugal manager may be asked in the coming days, however, why he did not insist that his team's captain and standout player took one of the earlier penalties against Spain, instead of leaving it to the likes of the clearly spooked Bruno Alves to put their neck on the line.
Euro 2012's other semi-final, which takes place in Warsaw on Thursday evening, sees Germany face Italy, the conquerors of England. Quite rightly given the impressive nature of their team's displays so far at the tournament, the German press are in confident mood ahead of the fixture.
"Das Team wirkt auf alles vorbereitet, Selbstzweifel sind ab sofort nicht mehr gestattet," is the message in Der Spiegel: "The team is prepared for everything, self-doubt is now no longer allowed."
Over at Bild, there is an even greater sense of destiny, built on the German tabloid's use of a palm reader to predict that Joachim Löw's side are all but guaranteed a place in Sunday's final.
"Palm expert Werner Giessing, 50, has analysed the left-hand of Löw," reads a story under the headline: "Jogi hat's in der Hand": "Jogi has it in hand." According to Giessing: "The hand image shows that Joachim Löw is on course to reach the zenith of his career and he will lead his team to the title."
First, of course, they have to get past an Italy side that, according to Gazzetta dello Sport, will attempt to match Germany stride for stride. A day after apologising for printing an offensive picture of Mario Balotelli, the Italian broadsheet reports that Cesare Prandelli, the national team manager, will send his players out to attack this evening. "It's risky, but it'll be a joy taking on a top team like Germany," Prandelli is quoted as saying. "We go into the game calm and relaxed, with the belief that we'll be able to play the way we've planned it."
Over at Corriere della Sera, there was a simple but eye-catching attempt to inspire Italy ahead of Thursday's encounter, with the online version of the newspaper posting a video of Italy's victories over Germany at major tournaments, most notably the 3-1 win in the 1982 World Cup final. Rousing stuff, indeed.