In praise of Spain – the collective and the individuals
Spain did it. The first side to win three consecutive major tournaments – Euro 2008, World Cup 2010 and on Sunday night, Euro 2012. Having been accused of being ‘boring’ in the build up to the final – certainly a legitimate criticism looking back at Portugal game. Even Arsene Wenger weighed in on the matter saying Spain were “betraying their philosophy and turned into something more negative” – La Roja rubbed it in their critics faces as they recorded the biggest margin of victory in a European Championship final – a 4-0 victory.
“Those people who think we are boring…in my opinion, they don’t understand the game” were Cesc Fabregas’ parting words. Boring is the ultimate insult that could be bestowed upon this Spanish side. For all the talk of false-9’s and a starting line-up that didn’t contain a recognised striker, La Roja saved their best for last. 12 goals scored, just one conceded, which was against the aforementioned Italians when the sides opened Group C. But once some of the many questions had been answered by the Spaniards, even more have since arisen. What more can they achieve?
Many are currently trying to contemplate if this Spanish side is the best international side ever. It is certainly a side that continues to break record after record coupled with opponent after opponent. It has been 990 minutes since they last conceded a goal in a knock-out game that was back at the 2006 World Cup against France – an aggregate of 14-0 on their way of a hat-trick of major tournaments. Those are the collective records, there have also been a couple of individual records set in the process by this team – Fernando Torres became the first person to score in two European Championship finals. Iker Casillas notched up his 100th international victory in 137 appearances, keeping his 9th clean sheet at a European Championship putting him level with Edwin Van der Sar. “It’s unique. It’s magical. Something that cannot be repeated. People can’t ignore how great this is.” beamed Andres Iniesta last night.
Even the brains the behind the operation, the quiet, unassuming coach, Vicente Del Bosque has managed his own unique treble of being a World Cup, Champions League and European Championship winning manager – the first coach to ever achieve such a feat. In the Galacticos era at Real Madrid he won six trophies: two La Liga titles, two Champions Leagues, the European Supercup and the Spanish Supercup. He is such unassuming character, that not one person mentioned him when @MarrsioFootball conducted a straw poll of: “Who are the best five managers in the world?” for his blog on the man. Del Bosque – who took charge from Luis Argones after Euro 2008 has cemented his place in history and has developed and evolved this side his in four years as coach.
In a year’s time, this Spain side will travel to Brazil to take part in the prelude to the 2014 World Cup, the Confederations Cup – where they will again take on Italy, along with South American’s finest – Brazil, Mexico and Uruguay – Japan, Tahiti and the winners of the 2013 African Cup of Nations. It is this World Cup in two years time in Brazil, should Spain successfully retain it, they would set yet another precedent, as no European side have ever won a World Cup staged in South America and would set La Roja apart from any other international side that has gone before them.
Another question raised – another one for Spain to answer.