The greatest football team: Spain 2012 vs. Brazil 1970?

July 4, 2012

“After becoming the first team to defend the European Championships, adding a second continental title to the World Cup won in 2010, many observers have been quick to label Spain the greatest team in the history of international football. An emphatic 4-0 thrashing of Italy, the biggest margin of victory ever seen in a world or European final, continued a remarkable run which has seen Spain not concede a goal in a knockout match since the great Zinedine Zidane found the back of their net for France at the 2006 World Cup.” CNN

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The Reducer: Euro 2012 Final Retro Diary

July 2, 2012


“When it was over, when Fernando Torres was wearing a look on his face that said, ‘Holy shit! I won the Golden Boot!?’ I didn’t want them to leave. I didn’t want it to be over. It had been a month, but it felt like it was just beginning. Some countries wait generations to win a major football tournament. Spain, for instance, waited 44 years. Then the right generation came along. On Sunday, Spain defeated a valiant, gassed Italy, 4-0, in Kiev, to win Euro 2012. They have now won two consecutive European championships and are the World Cup holders. They are the first team to ever successfully defend their European Championship. Spain’s victory on Sunday marked the third time they won the Euros. The only other country to pull off that feat is West Germany. In terms of accomplishments, this Spanish side can only be compared to the Brazil team, led by a young Pele, that won the World Cup in 1958 and 1962, or the early ’70s West Germany team that won the Euros in 1972, the World Cup in ’74, and placed as runners-up to Czechoslovakia in Euro ’76.” Grantland (Video)

Spain sheds ‘boring’ charges in Euro 2012 final, with Italy’s help
“Everything in football is relative. How one team plays is necessarily conditioned by how the opponent plays. When Spain was accused of being boring, the response was always that it was very hard for it not to be when opponents packed men behind the ball. Italy didn’t, and Spain showed just how unboring it could be, its 4-0 win the largest margin of victory in a European Championship or World Cup final. Spain’s game plan, essentially, was a game of chicken — and it never blinked first. When opponents sat deep against it — and in the past two tournaments only Chile and Italy have not — Spain held the ball.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

Euro 2012: Perfect Spain justify Vicente del Bosque’s beliefs
“Playing without a defined striker remains a relatively novel concept but Vicente del Bosque was actually returning to Plan A. After unsuccessful attempts to incorporate a proper No9 into his side Del Bosque reverted to his initial system of six midfielders and Spain became the first side to win the European Championship by using the same XI in their opening game and the final.” Guardian – Michael Cox

Friedrich Nietschze Reflects Upon the European Championships
“We are honored at Futfanatico to welcome Friedrich Nietschze as a visiting scholar, classical philologist, philosopher, and soccer analyst. The German intellectual heavyweight took a break from his grueling publish or perish schedule to answer pressing questions on the European Championships, the gay science, post-nihilist studies, and the final between Italy and Spain. His answers will probably confuse (but may amuse) you.” futfanatico

Spain earns the big prize, but here are my Euro 2012 tourney awards
“Spain ended two debates once and for all with its master-class performance in a sensational 4-0 Euro 2012 final victory against Italy: No, it is not boring to play with six midfielders and no clear center-forward; and yes, it deserves to be called one of the greatest teams of all time after becoming the first side to win three major international tournaments in succession.” SI


Mario Balotelli and European Racism: Euro Cup 2012

July 2, 2012

“I don’t watch much soccer, though I will watch it if I catch it on TV. So, I was not one of those people who anxiously awaited this year’s European Cup, which concluded last night (Spain won). People I follow on Twitter, though, are huge soccer fans. And it was through them that I first heard about Mario Balotelli, a player for the Italian team. Here is what Balotelli looks like…” scATX


Spain cements its place in history with unprecedented title run

July 2, 2012


“Three thoughts after Spain’s 4-0 win over Italy in the Euro 2012 final: • Let’s call Spain what it is: The most accomplished international soccer team of all time. What more could you ask for? On a glorious summer night in Ukraine, Spain played a spectacular game against the four-time world champions, carving up the Italian defense with speed and precision to leave no doubt that this Spanish team’s accomplishments deserve to be in the sport’s pantheon ahead of Brazil (1958-62, 1970), France (1998-2000) and West Germany (1972-74). In doing so, Spain becomes the first country ever to be a two-time reigning European champion and World Cup champion at the same time. Just as importantly, Spain turned on the style more than it had at any point in this tournament, giving us brilliant passing sequences that led to goals by David Silva, Jordi Alba, Fernando Torres and Juan Mata. The highlights of their goals — the motion, the imagination, the beauty — will live on in the history of sports, and for that we can all be thankful that we got the chance to witness it.” SI

Spain 4-0 Italy: Spain win Euro 2012
“Spain produced by far their best performance of Euro 2012, and won the final with ease. Both teams were as expected. Vicente del Bosque made a single change – Cesc Fabregas returned upfront in place of Alvaro Negredo. Cesare Prandelli also made one change, bringing back Ignazio Abate at right-back, with Federico Balzaretti dropping to the bench. Giorgio Chiellini continued at left-back, although didn’t last long before Balzaretti replaced him. Spain were the better side by a considerable distance. They didn’t settle for mere dominance of possession, and instead attacked with speed and determination to produce a wonderful display of football.” Zonal Marking

Spain 4 Italy 0: match report
“This was so much more than a stunning Euro 2012 scoreline conjured up by one of the most magical collection of footballers in history. This was a statement by Spain, a thrilling 90-minute advertisement to the world over how the game should be played, with skill, movement, bursts of unstoppable pace, with pass after pass after pass. This was simplicity and beauty, golden football leading to silverware. This was history in the making, Spain recording an unprecedented three trophies in a row. Vicente Del Bosque’s side of all the talents were good from back to front. Iker Casillas made some important aerial interceptions. Jordi Alba was all shimmering class at left-back, Xavi and Andres Iniesta controlled midfield as if they had been presented with the title deeds while Cesc Fabregas was immense in attack.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Euro 2012: Reign of Spain goes on as Italy trail in their stardust
“In the end, Spain were the best team in Euro 2012 by a considerable distance. They turned the final into a procession and, when they reflect on becoming the first nation to win three major tournaments in succession, the sense of jubilation should be greatly enhanced by this being the night when they were rewarded for having absolute conviction in their principles. They never wavered in the face of great scrutiny and Vicente del Bosque’s formation, however unorthodox, was shown ultimately to be based on the strongest of foundations, to the extent it feels bizarre in the extreme that a team of this brilliance could ever be accused of not entertaining.” Guardian

Euro 2012: Spain v Italy – five talking points
“Spain are not boring. They are unstoppable … Vicente del Bosque’s side are history-makers, their hat-trick of major trophies secured here in such scintillating if characteristic style. They were also, quite clearly, the best team at these finals. Others have attempted to stifle them, some relatively successfully, but Spain cannot be out-passed or unpicked: the statistics suggest as much, but a glance at their fluid approach-play is more revealing. Rather, it is awe-inspiring.” Guardian

Spain makes history against Italy
“In a bravura display of creative, free-flowing, tactically nimble football, Spain made history with a 4-0 victory over Italy. With a performance fitting of champions, Vicente Del Bosque’s Spain became the first team to win three straight major tournaments and the first to repeat as Euro champions. After their campaign had been stigmatized by allegations their possession-hungry style of play had become “boring,” La Roja summoned an extra gear in this final to elevate their game and eviscerate their critics.” ESPN (Video)

Euro 2012: The Final – Spain 4-0 Italy
“Football writers the world over will be frantically thumbing through their thesaureses this evening, desperately searching for new superlatives for a performance from Spain that we may well one day look back upon as the definitive of our age. Over the last few days a frankly tedious circular debate has been raging on the subject of whether Spain are ‘boring’ or not. It’s an argument that was rendered suddenly and startlingly obsolete this evening by a complete football performance which rendered a previously impressive looking Italian side bloodied and broken. If this match had been a boxing match, it would have been stopped long ago. Had it been a horse race, they’d have shot both the horse and the jockey.” twohundredpercent


The end of forward thinking

June 30, 2012


Maracanazo, a defeat that Brazilians would never forget.
“Five years ago, at the coaching conference he hosts in Rio de Janeiro, Carlos Alberto Parreira made a prediction that left the room stunned. Discussing how tactics might evolve, the coach who had led Brazil to victory in the 1994 World Cup, suggested that the formation of the future might be 4-6-0. True, wingers had once seemed sacrosanct, only to be refined out of existence and then reinvented. Yes, playmakers were undergoing a similar process of redevelopment. But centre-forwards? Could football really function with no centre-forward – without a recognised forward line at all? The answer came in this season’s Champions League final: yes, it could. Manchester United won the world’s premier football tournament with a team that featured no out-and-out striker.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Stats Zone: How Italy can counter Spain – and why Del Bosque should drop Silva

June 30, 2012

“For the fourth time in the last seven European Championships, the final is being contested by two sides who met in the group stage. The 1-1 draw between Spain and Italy in Group C’s opening game feels like an age ago, but both Vicente del Bosque and Cesare Prandelli will have reviewed that tape ahead of the final, trying to find weaknesses in their opponent.” FourFourTwo


Euro 2012: Breaking the Andrea Pirlo Code

June 30, 2012

“At the turn of the century, Andrea Pirlo, the bright young hope of Italian football, led the Italian under-21 team to European glory. Playing behind the strikers as a ‘trequartista’, Pirlo was one of the best players of the tournament, contributing with a number of assists and goals. His exploits as captain, didn’t fail to go unnoticed as managers across Italy earmarked him as the next great no.10 to don the blue of Italy. Life was seemingly nice and sunny for young Andrea; he completed a dream move to Inter Milan but in three years at the club, he failed to make the breakthrough. Because ahead of him, competing in the same position, he found the celestial Roberto Baggio – one of the finest playmakers all time – and as a result, Pirlo was loaned back out to his first club, Brescia.” The Arsenal Column