There was no magic from Andrea Pirlo. Nor was there any drama from Mario Balotelli. It was Spain and only Spain all the way. Artistry from David Silva, passing from Andres Iniesta, precision from Xavi and solidarity from Casillas – that was all Spain needed to retain the European Championships they had won four years ago.
It was not just a victory but an astounding one. The La Roja put in four goals past the hapless Italians to make it the most comprehensive victory in a final in the Euros. A teary eyed Pirlo during the presentation ceremony was the picture that reflected that reflected Italy’s plight on the day – perhaps their most humiliating ever!
The final was much more than just a stunning scoreline. It was a humiliation for the Azzurri who boasted of having one of the toughest defences to break down. Del Bosque’s unorthodox strategy of playing with a false number 9 paid huge dividends as it was Fabregas who set up Spain’s first goal. Torres, who started on the bench in the 2010 World Cup final and also the Champions League final for Chelsea, started on the bench yet again, but he had the last laugh as he walked away with the golden boot as he scored Spain’s third before setting up his Chelsea teammate to complete the rout. Torres finished the tournament on three goals, despite having played less than 300 minutes and became the first player ever to score in two European finals.
The game was won much more before that though. Spain, as expected, dominated proceedings and it was the false number 9’s presence which set up the first goal in the 14th minute. Fabregas, fed by a through ball by Iniesta, crossed it back for Silva who headed in from six yards out. It all happened in a flash and the City man’s goal pushed Italy on the backfoot. Spain hadn’t conceded in a knockout match since Zidane scored against them in the 2006 World Cup and they never looked like conceding here again.
The goal tally was doubled and this time it was the new Barca boy Jordi Alba who scored a beautiful goal after making a 60 yard dash on the left wing. His finish showed why Barcelona were ready to pay 14million pounds for his services. Torres’ presence only increased Spain’s domination and when Thiago Motta limped out with an injury, Italy’s dreams were broken.
No team has ever dominated world football like Spain have. Winning three consecutive major tournaments is no child’s play and Spain have deserved every bit of the glory. Del Bosque’s unorthodox formation of playing six midfielders may have earned him criticism, but the shrewd man has had the last laugh. Iniesta, scorer of the winning goal in the 2010 World Cup, picked up the best player award despite not having scored throughout the tournament while his partner in crime Xavi completed the tournament with an astounding 98% of long passes completed.
Spain are arguably the best team ever to have played football giving competition to the likes of Pele’s Brazil that dominated the world from 1958-70 or Cyruff’s Netherlands that introduced the concept of Total Football.
With three trophies in four years, Spain look totally unstoppable and as the juggernaut rolls on, the next stop for La Roja – Brazil, 2014.