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Brilliant Spain can outshine their rivals for longer still

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Phil McNulty | 08:44 UK time, Monday, 2 July 2012

Euro 2012: Kiev

At 2.45am the lights went out on Kiev's Olympic Stadium. The only noise came from the thudding musical beats from hospitality areas and the few fans still taking souvenir photographs.

And yet this exciting, bustling city and its state-of-the-art arena was still illuminated by the latest stunning display from arguably the finest international team this sport has seen.

Partisanship and patriotism will be factors in the debate - Brazil of 1970 and France of 1998/2000 will have their advocates whenever the argument turns to who really was - or is - the greatest.

But Spain have now had a grip on the game since they won Euro 2008 and can take their place in history after a 4-0 victory against Italy, following a World Cup triumph in South Africa two years ago, confirmed three major tournaments in succession.

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From the devastating opening burst that brought David Silva's goal, via a run that resembled a red blur from Jordi Alba to end a spell when Italy actually threatened, this was a masterclass in tactical and technical excellence.

And then, with Italy down to 10 men after their final substitute Thiago Motta was carried off injured, came the ruthlessness. The late appearance of Fernando Torres saw the ploy of the "false nine" - playing without a conventional striker - replaced by one of "genuine nine" as Chelsea's striker scored the third, then set up club and country team-mate Juan Mata for the coup de grace.

Every box that indicates a world-class team was ticked. This was quite simply a supreme performance from a Spain side that can now slap their medals on the table and demand comparison with anyone.

And, laughably, it was done against the background of complaints that this was a "boring" Spain, who had crawled their way through Euro 2012. If this was their answer to those charges, it was eloquent enough for even the most hardened observers.

It is true there have been times when this Spain side has been less pleasing on the eye than in the past - the semi-final win against Portugal on penalties was dull - but to brand them "boring" on that evidence was naïve, and an insult.

One man who should have known better was Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. With comic timing that was so bad it was good, he chose the build-up to the game to write of Spain that "they have betrayed their philosophy and turned it into something more negative".

Wenger was able to reflect on those ill-judged remarks as he watched high in the stands in his role as a French television pundit, the Spanish making a nonsense of his words as they played without a negative thought in their heads.

This has been a Euro 2012 rich in quality, so a performance from the winners that will be forever remembered by all those who witnessed it was the perfect finale. The tournament got the two finalists it deserved and out of those Spain were worthy victors.

And a glance around the team, its stellar performers and those on the bench, suggests they have the capacity to extend their reign.

Goalkeeper Iker Casillas is the symbol of the Spain side, responsible and mature. Sergio Ramos is hard as nails, while new Barcelona defensive signing Alba's raids have been one of the highlights of Euro 2012.

Where to start in central midfield? Andres Iniesta is the master manipulator of touch and tempo. Xavi's pass for Alba's goal displayed almost scientific precision, while Xabi Alonso's distribution must make Liverpool fans weep when they wonder why Rafael Benitez decided he could do without him.

Cesc Fabregas filled the "false nine" role to perfection and David Silva was impeccable. All this with striker David Villa and great defensive lynchpin Carles Puyol watching from the stands in Kiev, ruled out by injury.

Look to the bench. Torres, Mata and Pedro Rodriguez came on in the final. Javi Martinez, Jesus Navas and Fernando Llorente were among those who did not.

For Italy, this was a night when their recent momentum was brutally stopped. The frustrations, inevitably, were most obviously expressed by Manchester City's Mario Balotelli.

He was unable to repeat the goalscoring feats that overcame Germany in the semi-final and walked straight down the tunnel at the final whistle before being persuaded back. He joined his team-mates, and rightly so, because this maligned figure has done himself credit at Euro 2012 and did not deserve to end his tournament generating headlines of the wrong sort.

Andrea Pirlo, another star of the tournament, sank along with his colleagues in the face of Spain's brilliance but he, like the rest of Italy coach Cesare Prandelli's squad, can hold his head high. Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon's acceptance of Spain's superiority was gracious and befitting his role as a statesman of the game.

Kiev's Olympic Stadium may have been in darkness in the small hours, but the manner of Spain's win in the Euro 2012 final will bathe it in light for a long time to come.

Comments

Page 1 of 6

  • Comment number 1.

    They finally played like we know they can with urgency and flair. One of the best 45 minutes of football i've seen from a team.

    It's a pity they only showed this form in glimpses throughout the competition but in the end they were still the best team in the tournament.

  • Comment number 2.

    Good blog Phil.

    I appreciate very different points of view in football - some love physicality, others power and speed, and others still grace. But I can't appreciate the people who want to knock this fantastic Spain team off their perch - "boring", "lucky", "overrated" are all adjectives being used to describe them. Scoring the most goals at the tournament is not "boring", and the Portugal game was tight but they dominated extra time and most of the second half too.

    I think it beggars belief that people do not accept this team is one of the greatest ever - three tournaments in succession guarantees that they will be considered whatever happens. Win in Brazil in 2014 and they will guarantee top place. Can everyone just please give this team the credit and respect they have surely earned?

  • Comment number 3.

    I have said Spain were boring in the past (and I still stand by that as a general rule) but I thought they were fantastic last night and thoroughly deserved it.

    Getting a little fed up with the BBC's love in though.

  • Comment number 4.

    @3
    Have to agree, not sure why the boring tag is "laughable" they have been exactly that this tournament. But last night, absolutely awesome!

    Just a side note, cannot understand why Wellbeck's goal against Sweden was not included in MOD's goals of the tournament?

  • Comment number 5.

    Great team. Great win. Richly deserved last night. Give Luca and Jurgen jobs and get rid of the ludicrous Hansen, Lawrensen and Shearer!

    PS Was Shearer on 'laughing gas'? His cheesy giggling and gawky 'laughing policeman' face during the latest Spain BBC love fest suggested as much!

  • Comment number 6.

    great final to a great euro's.

    looking back, do the english media and people feel like utter prats...?? so much talk of how racist ukraine is, it turns out there was no racism at all in ukraine, the only racism that was directed at the english was when they arrived home and were abused by an english man.... which no one has condemed, the english have told europe that english racists are fine, but foreign racists are evil, how arrogant!!

    and before anyone says anything about what happened at the beginning of the tournament, that was in poland not in ukraine...

    idiots....

  • Comment number 7.

    I disagree slightly, Phil. What is laughable is not the boring tag, but that the media (and Spain) have conveniently ignored the fact that the Spanish performance last night was nothing like their performances in the rest of this tournament.

    Spain were brilliant last night and showed how good they can be. If anything, it underlines why so many were frustrated with the defensive and negative performances we have seen in the earlier stages of this tournament. Released to play their natural game (and I think the criticism has alot to do with the change in positivity), the Spanish showed why they are one of the best teams ever.

    The tone of "I told you so" in this article is inappropriate and unnecessary. Spain deserved to win after that performance, congratulations to them.

  • Comment number 8.

    It's easy to say the boring tag is laughable after that one good performance but the truth is they deserved it. Taking the drubbing of a (very poor) Ireland out they scored 4 in 4 games, all of this whilst having 65% possession and only creating about 3 shots on goal.

    Last night they were awesome and seemed to play with a tempo that has been missing all tournament. You can't dismiss the fact that they haven't been great most of the tournament based on a good 45 minutes

  • Comment number 9.

    I guess the question is now whether or not the can retain the world cup. Xavi will be 33 and inestia 30, otherwise most of this current team will be under 30. Plus with their players waiting on the bench, I can't see the quality dropping by the next WC.

    Most teams are miles off of Spain on last nights showing. I wonder if anyone can develop the anti tika taka by next WC... otherwise I can't see the WC going anywhere else

  • Comment number 10.

    I think there boring, not their football but the fact they don't look like losing anytime soon, if they win in 2014 then its going to stagnate international football, the same team winning over and over again will put people off IMO. Hopefully someone does football a favour and dump them out early on (Last 16 or Quarters).

    And I don't think they were the best team this year, I think Germany was until they imploded against Italy, Germany would of gave them a better game last night IMO.

    3 tourno's in a row is quite fantastic though, and they deserve credit for what they've achieved, but for the love of god someone please knock them out at the next WC.

  • Comment number 11.

    Was impressed at the start of the game as both sides played like they wanted to win.

    Italy though increasingly as the game went on looked fairly average and bereft of ideas. The ball down the wing and cross into Balotelli reminded me a bit of the way England played.

    The Spanish pass the ball knowing that there is someone to receive it, and leave many passes right to the last split second, but rarely waste them. Silvas goal was great. Compare to Englands passing which looks amateur and forced in comparison.

    Overall have enjoyed competition, some have criticised but IMO been a good standard and reasonable games. Credit I guess also to Ukraine and Poland who seem to have on the whole done things well. Hopefully positive legacy overall...

  • Comment number 12.

    8.
    At 09:38 2nd Jul 2012, gunnerP90 wrote:


    It's easy to say the boring tag is laughable after that one good performance but the truth is they deserved it. Taking the drubbing of a (very poor) Ireland out they scored 4 in 4 games, all of this whilst having 65% possession and only creating about 3 shots on goal.

    Last night they were awesome and seemed to play with a tempo that has been missing all tournament. You can't dismiss the fact that they haven't been great most of the tournament based on a good 45 minutes
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    Maybe, from last night you could argue that opposition's defensive set ups were responsible for the dull matches. Italy and Ireland went at them and though it made the games interesting, Spain looked fantastic.

  • Comment number 13.

    A superb display of majestic football, quality, technical ability, class and skill in abundance. This team has justified the claim of being the greatest ever. Hodgson, take note, if England are ever to win anything, then radical changes to our coaching, training and development of our emerging talent are absolutely crucial. Our footballers are light years behind in skill, ability, movement, awareness, organisation, quality and talent. We ned to start with the basics, how to pass, hold and distribute a ball for starters!

  • Comment number 14.

    It's crazy that they can play poorly most of the tournament and still win it with only 1 goal conceded, and get the golden boot for a striker who didn't play all that much aswell :D

    Even last night there were a fair few instances of them giving the ball away needlessly, not to detract from them as it was a great performance, but once they go into fifth gear (I reckon this was fourth!), watch out!

  • Comment number 15.

    Boring, brilliant-who cares. They were superb last night, although I think Italy deserve credit for having a go. They weren't god enough but one of the reasons this 'boring' tag has been applied is because the opposition try to stifle them.

    I agree that people can get carried away by one performance, Balotelli apparently could have been player of the tournament-based on one decent performance against Germany.

    Spain play the way they play, it is up to somebody to work out how best to unify them. I personally believe this will happen when Xavi, Iniesta and others age, I don't think any nation can produce that level of players at will. They are not only the best 11 but in all honesty I don't think they have a 'bad' player in their whole Euro squad. There are no Hendersons or Downings making their bench. Navas, Mata, Pedro, Torres, Llorente, Valdes, Reina etc are also excellent players.

    I think Brazil will be tough for any European side but I think we can all agree that we have certainly witnessed Europe's finest ever national side from 2008-2012. Boring to some but brilliant to others.

    I just hope this blog doesn't turn into a slanging match between the usual suspects, no one cares.

  • Comment number 16.

    I hate the arrogance of reporters who dare to tell us that we know nothing about football if we claim Spain are or were boring. And some reporters even propose to tell Wenger he's wrong about a game they know nothing about compared to him.
    The truth is Spain WERE boring for much of the tournament. They were fantastic yesterday, helped by the fact that Italy actually came to win and not just to defend as Spain's previous opponents had.

  • Comment number 17.

    That should read 'nullify them'. Apologies (also good not 'god') Its too early for my fingers to match my brain.

  • Comment number 18.

    Spain were average during the tournament, but saved their big performance to the final.

    I really feel for the Italians, who looked shattered from early on, and loosing Motta was effectively the end of the game with no subs left.

    Teams have shown it is possible to stifle them (Portugal had them lumping long balls up field at one point), but you can't let them off the hook, and you must make your chances against them count.

  • Comment number 19.

    well unbelievably there are still football deniers still about. you deserve every prehistoric game you get, especially england. if fact you should be sentenced to a lifetime of watching this present england lot. if you think spain are boring then god help you.

  • Comment number 20.

    @12

    I agree with you, it all depends on how other teams approach the game. Although, saying Ireland went at them is maybe stretching it a bit, they were simply outclassed.

  • Comment number 21.

    Torres deserves the Golden Boot award because he made an invaluable assist. The right play that swayed my opinion.
    Daivd Silva to his dismay might have had a shot at it if he had remained for the match to pad his 2 goals and 3 assists. It was the Spanish Manager's prerogative. c'est la vie.
    Kudo's to Spain for their superior performance.

    Italy put the pedal to the metal against Germany to wit Balotelli's turbo-charged 2nd. goal. Italy was running on empty (physically & mentally) against Spain.
    One never knows whether a physically fit Italian team (the team that played in the SF) would have fought Spain to a standstill (or boring us with their tiki taka) just like the Portugal team did. Perhaps then Spain detractors might have their views vindicated.

    Just imagine if Italy had depth would the injured Chiellini, Motta played?

  • Comment number 22.

    Spain were not boring last night - but that's because they finally allowed some of the world's most gifted footballers to play at a fast tempo with creativity. Even before Motta was gone they looked pretty unstoppable, and against a perfectly capable Italy side. Despite the smokescreen the BBC and others have invited us to believe, a lot of their matches were dull however - too many aimless passes in their own half, and very little done with high possession stats.

    Totally agree with #6 - was there a single incident of racism involving a supporter during the tournament? Can any non-white fan who visited the event honestly say they ever felt unsafe? The BBC now owe Poland and Ukraine an apology. Normally I'd suggest financial compensation for the number of fans who didn't attend on account of their lies, but it'd be taxpayers money.

  • Comment number 23.

    Why is no-one recognising Busquets'? contribution here? The defensive solidity he brings and the composure under pressure is staggering for a man of his age, we can ridicule him for diving, why can't we praise him when he actually quits that stuff and plays superbly?

  • Comment number 24.

    great First half, second half was a non even after Italy going down to 10 men.
    I felt flat once that happened and lost interest in the game.

    Well done to Spain and well done to Italy to getting that far after the mess was their last WC.

    Rest of Europe and probably the world playing catch up. The next WC should be interesting.

  • Comment number 25.

    Spain only played gloriously in flashes this Euro2012, the second halves against Italy and Portugal, the game against Ireland, first-half against France...but last night they were utterly ruthless and imperious, in my opinion they ARE the greatest of all time because to dominate the modern-day age football so artistically when crowns are exchanged on daily basis and everyone beats each other, only Spain show some stability to remain arguably the best...all done without Villa and Puyol.

  • Comment number 26.

    And this is boring? Sorry what IS boring is repeatedly getting hyped up by the press to support "our boys" including those of the so called golden generation every 2 years. There is a pattern and its one of exaggerated expectations, over hyping of some very ordinary players followed by the usual (early) exit. Now that is boring!

    Spain are not boring. Their football, particularly in extra time against Portugal and the 1st half last night was exillerating. Their passing is precise, innovative. their players completely comfortable on the ball, so much so that passes are played to players seemingly in deep trouble, surrounded by opponents-and yet they retain possession. This tournament so them abandone strikers and we doubted them. At times it seemed perverse and yet in the final against the 2nd best team in the tournament they scored 4 (2 admittedly against 10 men) but who would argue that they didnt deserve that? In Xavi, Iniesta and Alba they had a trio of truly world class performers and yet Alba only started his international career in Oct last year! Can they win a 2nd WC on the trot? If they keep players fit and hungry then yes, tho no European team has won it in South America and they would share favourites billing with Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay.
    And what of England? Well first they seem to be in denial with Hodgson saying possession isnt important! To get behind defences Roy, you need the ball. They believe in Rooney they have another Pele although the evidence completely undermines that claim. They believe they have the best league in the world. Perhaps that claim should say the best money making league in the world. Like the banks the PL is now awash with money and players earning exorbitant sums for failure that perhaps it needs a Leveson inquiry. Along with the press and the banks it is the most unregulated area of our national life. 3 things are needed to change football in this country;
    1) A complete overhaul of coaching from primary school upwards
    2) A cap on foreign players in the PL
    3) Performance related pay to be introduced

  • Comment number 27.

    "Why is no-one recognising Busquets "


    because he plays in that position that people dont recognize the work that goes on. They always deem the player to have had a quiet game, when in reality when you dont notice them they can be having a stormer.

  • Comment number 28.

    The turning point of the match was Silva's Goal. Chiellini was obviously playing injured when he couldn't stopped Fab from crossing for Silva to head in the goal. That's was very uncharacteristic of Chiellini.

  • Comment number 29.

    The Spanish ran a shattered Italian team ragged last night. They finally played with urgency and mixed up the style of their passing and it was an excellent performance from an excellent team. It is mere conjecture to suggest they are the best team ever but they are certainly one of the best international sides ever seen.

    The only thing that holds them back from being the best ever is that they have never beaten a top African team, Brazil or Argentina in a major tournament. In fact the only time they played Argentina in a friendly, they were hammered my Messi, Tevez and Aguero in Buenos Aires by 4 goals to 1. That said they are a great team full of educated and cultured footballers that have made history.

    The only statistic that matters in football is results. Spain have won three tournaments in a row, that tells the story of just how well Spanish football has developed in the last 20 years. The other countries in Europe and the rest of the world must try and catch up but it will take time.

    It wasn't Italy's night but even if lady luck had gone home with them, I suspect Spain still would have gone home with the trophy. Everyone talks about technique, touch and creativity to explain why Spain are currently the best. For me though, it is something else. For me it is their movement both when they have the ball and when they don't. If other teams closed Spain down in the way they do to their opponents, they wouldn't be able to play as they do!

    Hats off to Spain, they fully deserve their place at the top of the tree. The stark truth is that they haven't done anything complex to achieve all this, they play simple football and have a well structured and ruthlessly effective coaching set-up. There is no reason why other countries can't do the same thing.

    Most tournaments have been won by good teams with one or two natural geniuses making the difference. This Spanish side is made up of players that have been well educated and have an unwavering belief and confidence in what they are doing. The only fear would be if every team starts playing 6 or 7 players in midfield, the game will become rather hard to watch.

    Well played Spain, proof that coaching and investment always yields success in sport.

  • Comment number 30.

    Note to BBC: Do not attempt to use graphical overlays when trying to do technical analysis, unless you are actually pointing out something technical that might not have occured to the average person. The only time a graphical overlay was used in this regard last night it was to point something out that every man, woman and child could see with their own eyes ".....and this is how much space the midfielder had to run into and shoot from". Really? Fascinating!

    Also, axe shearer and hansen. Shearers time should never have come, and hansen is way past his sell by date. If these people arent actually going to talk technical and just sit there waxing lyrical, then lineker can do that on his own. The whole BBC presentation smacks loudly of "mates on a couch". Trouble is, those are some expensive mates you are hiring.

    Definitely, DEFINITELY axe lawrenson. He sounds bored. If being paid to watch a lot of football makes you sound as negative and whiny as that then you can keep that job! He has a privaledged position and he should realise it. He never sounds very enthusiastic about what he's there to do. Axe him.

    Lastly, what was the point in dragging Jake Humphries away from F1? Just so he could stand at the side of the pitch before the game for 20 seconds to say "and now the moment you've all been waiting for.......". I fail to see what adding him to the presentation brought to proceedings, and given that the second choice anchor for F1 is terribly inexperienced, I didnt see the point in having Humphries dragged away from the one thing he's half decent at - chatting rubbish for an hour before a grand prix. If you're going to hijack the man for the football, at least give him more than a peripheral 20 second role.

    All in all, ITV owned you for the whole tournament. And I take not that much pleasure in saying that, because the BBC costs me money. I dont find that very funny or satisfying as a thought - at all.

  • Comment number 31.

    Good blog Phil. Spain were fantastic last night, it was great to see a team apparently not fazed by a big game and play so well. The balance of the team is perfect with Xavi and Iniesta pulling the strings, Alonso holding (but can spray a pass around...) and the pace of people like Alba. It just goes to show how technical excellence and ball retention is the way to go.

    It seems as though people are now taking for granted the ability of the Spanish team so that, when they dont destroy teams, they are labelled as boring etc. To me just watching the ability on the ball and the 'ole' chants as another passage of play passes without the opposition having a sniff is what football is all about.

    In another topic, can anybody comment but did Mata touch the ball at any point apart from his goal? If not that must be the best first touch in football ever. In the whole tournament he only touched the ball once - to score in the final! I may be wrong but...

  • Comment number 32.

    I understand beer is cheap in the east of Europe. That is good for the Beeb's expenses account as Phil McNulty must have sunk a few before coming up with his latest attempt to fly off the romanticism-o-meter!

    Last night Spain were excellent. Previously, Spain had been fairly uninspiring and I find it amazing just how disingenuously some of those in the media (for it is always their voice we hear loudest) have failed to grasp the gist of people's gripes.

    Most people's opinions I have heard have not at all been on the idea that Spain winning is boring. How can those who supposedly know what they are talking about think that this is the point?

    It is the manner of their approach that people grumble about. Wenger's comments are as true this morning as they were when he made them. In fact, you could argue that last nights display backs up those comments because last night they attacked at the same time as having less possession - and went on to out play their opponent and score that many goals.

    Anyway, very well done to Spain. Big kudos to them.

  • Comment number 33.

    @23

    Agree there, people get blinded by his antics, but he's a brilliant player. Solid defensively, great passer and great technique, love watching him.

  • Comment number 34.

    I really enjoyed the footy over the past few weeks. Being a lover of Italian football for many years I don't mind a tight game with few chances and no goals if it delivers in other ways. But our great game is full of opinions and all are valid. There doesn't seem to be a team that over the next two years could knock Spain off their perch. However when dominant teams do fall we don't always see it coming, it just happens. The Brazilians, Argentinians, Germans, Italians and Portugese will be ready and who knows. I would love to see a team go up against them with real threat just to see how good they are. The best? who knows. How do you compare teams from different eras. They could be better than pre war England, 50's Hungary, 70 Brazil, 90's France (to name a few), who would know? They are the best now and we should be showing our children why and how they do it. Forget systems, there are dozens of ways to win. All the great teams have two things in common at least. The majority, if not all, their players are mentally strong and have complete ball mastery. It doesn't need millions, coaching badges, 4g pitches, Burton (although they may all help). It only requires a ball and time spent with kids playing the game.
    There are plenty here who think they know football enough to have a go at anybody with different views so get out and teach or do you just talk a good game?
    I've enjoyed reading many opinions, especially when they don't tally with mine, and despaired at the attitude of others but I've spent too long here. I would ask all that care and love the game to get out there, we need coaches not experts. Bye.

  • Comment number 35.

    @Phillip Sayers

    Why are you slagging people off who find Spain boring? Everyone as different tastes and all that no?

    And I'm getting sick and tired of being slated and mocked for finding them boring, all their games this year have been a borefest (0-0 against Portugal, 1-0 Croatia after the most boring game i've seen, 2-0 against France (one goal a peno at the end) after yet another tedious game, 1-1 against Italy in the opener from which Italy deserved to win by the way.) the only game they actually played well in was last night from which they took Italy apart. But on the whole they have been toothless and boring, I much prefer Germany's style of football.

  • Comment number 36.

    @19 I couldn't agree more. I only wish England were as boring as Spain... oh wait, actually they're even more boring, and this without the ball most of the time.

    You can hardly blame Spain for winning games 1-0 when most opposition teams set themselves up to not concede. Barcelona couldn't get past Chelsea and neither could Bayern when they faced the massed ranks of two banks of four. I find it glorious that we can witness a team with the guile to defeat those kinds of teams on a consistent basis. Spain will be beaten, but only exceedingly rarely by that kind of approach.

    If teams try to play them at football though, they may have a better chance of winning, but they certainly run the risk of being crushed, as Italy were yesterday.

  • Comment number 37.

    What is laughable is that Phil and most of the commenters on here forget that they were praising Chelsea only a few weeks ago for a brand of football that makes Spain look even better (even in the boring games). The truth is i get more excitment watching Spain play borin than i ever will watching Chelsea or to some extent England (at the moment). Long may they keep it up and we should focus more on how we learn to make our teams play like that!!

  • Comment number 38.

    Whilst I agree that the BBC coverage was a tad 'robotic' there were a couple of fantastic quotes.

    on Jordi Alba 'Barcelona have just signed Jordi Alba for 13million euros. A steal, that's two and a half Andy Carrolls...'

    On Gerard Pique ' Two Eurpoean Championships, a World cup, going out with Shakira - does he ever have a bad day?'

    Classic!

  • Comment number 39.

    @26

    1) Completely agree.
    2) That would be illegal, unless you restricted non-EU players. It's not really non-EU players that are the problem though.
    3) I have never understood why this wasn't the norm anyway. But until the FA starts banning teams for going into administration there will alway be teams that overspend and guarantee contracts, which would undermine any other teams trying to introduce performance related pay.

    There needs to be an overhaul of coaching in this country. That is the main issue. We have far too many ex-professionals who "coach" with no real understanding of the game. Nothing will change until the FA start to become proactive in changing and monitoring how our coaches are trained, regardless of the other issues.

  • Comment number 40.

    #34 CropwellBlade

    It doesn't need millions, coaching badges, 4g pitches, Burton (although they may all help). It only requires a ball and time spent with kids playing the game.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    I completely agree. Football is so simple. All these coaching badges - I just don't think I can fathom them.

    You need to be able to see where the ball is going and judge if you can get there or not.

    You need to be able to control it.

    You need to be able to kick it.

    You need to decide whether to run with it or who to pass it to.

    You need to move into space to be open to receive the ball again.

    I think it really is that simple.

  • Comment number 41.

    Prior to yesteday's final I was in the "boring" camp. Yesterday's final only served to add to my frustration about their performances in the rest of the tournament. We all know how good the Spaniards are but it seems that Del Bosque has become so intent on not conceeding he'll only let the dogs loose when the match is won.

    The frst two goals were an absolute joy to behold and shows why we want the Spanish management to let their players have a freedom that wasn't evident before yesterday. It looks like Barca have picked up the bargain of the season in Jordi Alba (Torres/Carroll HA!).

    Great day for neutral fans but has left us wanting more from a team we know can deliver more than it has been.

  • Comment number 42.

    Congrats to all the teams that took part in the Tournament, with the exception of the
    'boring " " dull " Inglish.

    as correctly predicted Spain did indeed save their best till last. The Italians, had no chance even with 11 on the park.

    great final

    Congrats to Spain, great display

    legoland and its majority bonehead support can only dream of being anywhere near the Spanish Team.

  • Comment number 43.

    Viva Espagna. Fantastic football. They didn't play their best in every match, and I would still have loved to see them face Germany. Bring on WC 2014, then we'll hopefully see them against Argentina and Brazil.

    As Cesc says, anyone who calls this team boring doesn't understand the sport. The world was given a lesson yesterday. Plenty of coaches across the world will have be learning from it. I hope Roy and his players are capable of learning and listening too.

  • Comment number 44.

    38 - maybe this makes me sound like a geek, but actually it's 0.4 Andy Carrolls, Alba cost LESS. Makes me think you might've stumbled across the solution of replacing the human staff with robots....

  • Comment number 45.

    Brilliant performance from Spain and testament to the fact that having a 'system' reaps rewards in the long term.

    What Spain did though was developed 20 years ago as the current crop of Spanish players were developed as juniors and any hope of England winning a major trophy at international level needs to start from the premise that it won't happen for at least another 20 years.

    Firstly we need to think about what syle of Football we want to play, taking into account that merely copying Spains possession style would not guarantee success. We need to take possession football to the next level in order to succeed i.e. by creating a direct or attacking style of possession Football.

    Secondly we need to create a unified system of coaching elite youngsters, i.e. by taking the job of doing this away from individual clubs and putting F.A. coaching centres into place in every major city.

    Until we start thinking along these lines, then I can't see England ever enjoying the kind of success that Spain are currently enjoying or playing Football with the same panache and skill.

  • Comment number 46.

    Actually spain aren't the first team to win 3 international tournaments in a row, Argentina won the south american championship in 1945, 1946 and 1947. Because of the war no world cup was held. Or don't we count the south american championship as a major international tournament? Not saying its not a huge acheivement, but at least be accurate with facts.

  • Comment number 47.

    Well done to Spain they deserved it on the night.

    It was a step too far for us, not enough time to recover and going to 10 men for a thrid of the game didnt help our cause, however Spain played very well and im proud of our players and how we played throughout the whole tournament, people didnt expect us to make the Quarter finals or the Semi's let alone the final so to get that far is a great achievement.

    Pirlo was player of the tournament for me.

  • Comment number 48.

    I never found them boring, but I don't agree with the 'They aren't boring it's the opposition's fault' stance.

    My theory is that the Chelsea win scared Del Bosque a bit, and seeing Villa was missing and he only had Torres who has had a dodgy season, the internationally unproven Llorente, and Negrado, instead of trying to make sure they didn't miss chances like Barca, he went the other day and just tried to ensure they didn't give away chances.

    By the final they were aware of Italy's capabilities and this allowed them to open up a bit more.

    This is my most likely wrong theory on it anyway :)

  • Comment number 49.

    Everyone has different opinions on Spain, but you can't knock the fact they are now double European Champions and World Champions. They know exactly how to win tournaments, and with the way they play, once they go 1 goal up they don't have to try and get a second because they are so good defensively. This means that they can play at 60-70% most games, saving themselves for the tougher games and the final (just like they did in this tournament).

    England have to play 100% every game to try and win, which is why we always look so tired. Also look at Germany, they steamrollered a very difficult group taking maximum points and then thrashed Greece 4-2, but by that time they had exerted so much in the 4 games they struggled to reproduce against Italy. Spain just don't have that problem, because of the way they play. Is it boring? I don't think so.

    You can't really look past them for the 2014 World Cup and beyond, especially when you see players like Thiago Alcântara being trained as a like for like replacement for Xavi, an almost ready made replacement for Iniesta in Iker Muniain (who didn't even make this squad, yet would walk into any other team in the competition), Javi Martinez to come in for Puyol, the list is just endless. The only area they are struggling to produce is strikers, but then again they don't play with any (maybe this is why?).

  • Comment number 50.

    Congratulations to Spain, played really well last night and amazingly weren't boring for a change. Reasonable tournament and the best team won.

    Now roll on the proper football in a month or so.

  • Comment number 51.

    #41 RememberScarborough

    It looks like Barca have picked up the bargain of the season in Jordi Alba (Torres/Carroll HA!).
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Actually, I think the Alba deal is a sign of the financial inequity in Spain. If there was a collective TV deal, Barcelona may not have the money to pay for Alba and Valencia may not need the money so much to need to sell Alba for a comparatively small sum.

    So, overall, it's probably a bad deal for the competitiveness of Spanish league football overall.

    But, as it means that the national team is made up of players from fewer club sides, it may suit their national team.

    If the idea behind the FIFA Fair Play Rules were better, it would insist that national leagues had collective TV deals. But it doesn't and it's one reason why the rules won't work.

  • Comment number 52.

    and also congratulations to the Hosts, put on a great display, despite the inglish attempts to undermine the whole thing with never ending articles about racism.

    great closing ceremony as well, i was glad to have the choice of not listening to " drivel " as quoted by GL.

  • Comment number 53.

    I keep hearing people calling for Lawro to be dropped from the commentary team for sounding bored and disinterested, but if you need listen to what he says and not how he says it, I find him hilarious.

    After one particularly poor dive by a Spanish player last night, his line of 'It's a shame you're not allowed to swear on the telly.' was comedy gold.

  • Comment number 54.

    Spain arent boring...the reason Spain seem boring is because teams sit in and try to stop them playing thus the game becomes boring. If a team has a go at Spain they become exciting to watch and tear teams apart.

    Also this comment

    41.At 10:19 2nd Jul 2012, RememberScarborough wrote:It looks like Barca have picked up the bargain of the season in Jordi Alba (Torres/Carroll HA!).
    ___________________________________________________________________

    Releasing a player on a free then having to pay 14 million Euro's a few years later is hardly a bargain

  • Comment number 55.

    is Ballotelli the new drogba ?

    every time he hit the deck the ref was very keen to give him free kicks.

  • Comment number 56.

    Iker Muniain (who didn't even make this squad, yet would walk into any other team in the competition

    _____________________________________________________________________

    ???

    Strange comment that, he's a good little player with a lot of potential, but i dont think he would walk in to many of the top teams in the Euro's.

  • Comment number 57.

    #55. HAHA CharadeYouAre

    I may sound biase here, but Mario is very clever in this respect, when he has nowhere to go he gets his body in front of the defender to make them foul/contact him so he wins free kick. Agree with it or not its very effective.

  • Comment number 58.

    Can we remember Spain played most of the second half against 10 men and the first goal was scored when the Italian defender was struggling with an injury.

  • Comment number 59.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 60.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 61.

    So Garth Crooks (BBC analyst!!) has looked at all the games and picked his Team of the Tournament:

    Garth has decided that Englands Glen Johnson is the right back. Yes, ahead of Abate, Arbeloa, Gabri Salisse and Lahm(i know he played left, but a bit of re-jigging would have been ok). Johnson was ok, but not great.

    Steven Gerrard's position in Garth's team as the "attacking" midfielder is quite laughable. So Garth thinks Stevie G should slot in ahead of Fabregas, Silva plus a host of other better players..............

    Garth also believes Balotelli & Gomez were better than Ronaldo & Ibrahimovic...........Oh dear...........

  • Comment number 62.

    #54 Ronaldosrightboot

    Releasing a player on a free then having to pay 14 million Euro's a few years later is hardly a bargain
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Indeed. I remember when Chelsea bought Le Saux back from Blackburn, our then CEO Colin Hutchinson described selling him to Blackburn in the first place as 'a mistake that cost £5m and four years to put right'.

    Did Barcelona also get a bargain with Fabregas........

  • Comment number 63.

    57.
    At 10:32 2nd Jul 2012, signori wrote:


    #55. HAHA CharadeYouAre

    I may sound biase here, but Mario is very clever in this respect, when he has nowhere to go he gets his body in front of the defender to make them foul/contact him so he wins free kick. Agree with it or not its very effective.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------

    I don't think there is any bias, all players try it now, just some are far more effective at it.

    It still looks very comical; as with drogba Balo is a big strong lad and just doesn't look quite right

  • Comment number 64.

    #61. John Cregan

    thats the thing with opinions, everyone has one, not everyone agrees, whats your team of the tournament and see if everyone agrees?

  • Comment number 65.

    Even 4 to 5 years ago Spain were considered 'chokers' but now they have become 'Immortals'.

  • Comment number 66.

    @ 57


    your forgiven :)

    I was a lil concerned at how easy he went to ground and also his copycat Ronaldo stepovers need some work, he spent most of the game falling over his own legs.

  • Comment number 67.

    42.At 10:20 2nd Jul 2012, HAHA CharadeYouAre wrote:

    You are blatantly writing on this blog to try and stir a reaction with your pathetic comments, grow up you child.

    59.At 10:33 2nd Jul 2012, The_beard_of_Xabi_Alonso wrote:


    As you have already confirmed to us all..........YOU ARE NOT SPANISH!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 68.

    61.
    At 10:35 2nd Jul 2012, John Cregan wrote:

    I can't believe Crooks went with Gerrard that is almost an insult to some other players in the tournamnet. Ozil was better other than in the italy game and you could pick any spanish player to go there.

  • Comment number 69.

    Iker Muniain (who didn't even make this squad, yet would walk into any other team in the competition

    _____________________________________________________________________

    ???

    Strange comment that, he's a good little player with a lot of potential, but i dont think he would walk in to many of the top teams in the Euro's.

    --------------------------

    Again all about opinions, but I have watched enough of him to believe that their aren't many players in his position that would have kept him out of most other teams in this Tournament. Maybe I should have said walked into every other squad and most starting line ups. It's only the fact that in front of him for Spain is Iniesta, Mata, Pedro, Navas and Silva! Not too bad a selection to have really.

  • Comment number 70.

    62.At 10:36 2nd Jul 2012, MrBlueBurns wrote:

    Did Barcelona also get a bargain with Fabregas........
    ________________________________________________________

    Yes and Pique also.......

  • Comment number 71.

    #66. HAHA CharadeYouAre

    yeah he wasnt able to be as strong as he was in the Semi's, Spain rather frustrated him and Italy all together, I think this tournament was a big step for him in many ways if not just silencing some of his critics a little maybe.

  • Comment number 72.

    @61

    John


    you beat me to it i was going to mention the same :)

  • Comment number 73.

    60.At 10:34 2nd Jul 2012, The_beard_of_Xabi_Alonso wrote:
    Andrea Pirlo has been reported missing. He was last seen in Sergio Busquets' back pocket.

    ______________________________________________

    Was impressed with the way Spain stopped Pirlo to be honest.....everytime he recieved the ball 2 spaniards went straight to him....generally Silva and Fabregas.Busquets didnt have a lot to do with it

  • Comment number 74.

    Italy have to take great credit, it was their approach that allowed Spain to play like how they did - Italy attacked leaving Spain space to play in.

    If Italy had of parked the bus like everyone else, the final would not have been as exciting, but closer.

    I guess Italy showed the way not to play against Spain, open up and attack and you get thumped.

    The team that played best against Spain in the competition were Croatia.

    Italy created chances last night, but at 2-0 and 10 men it was too much and Spain could have scored as many as they wanted near the end.

    Spain are head and shoulders above the rest of the world and the next generation are waiting to come through - the big question is, how hungry are these players for more success?

  • Comment number 75.

    The better team won & weldone to them. Spain have a manager in Del Bosque who has won everthing in football who on the record books should be the best manager alive today. The man is a football master tactician. He had lost his top striker in David Villa, and quickly saw that the remaining options in Torres, Negredo & Llorente were not good enough replacements and decided to play without a striker. Can someone name me any other manager (apart from Pep Guardiola) who could have done this in a major competition and got away with it? SAF - no chance, Mourinho - no chance, Cappello - no chance. Del Bosque led this team to history and much credit should be given to him as well as the players who executed his plans.
    I do feel for Ballotelli though as i really wanted him to win the golden boot. This would have been masive for his career, and shut up a lot of haters in the media. Albeit, he really showed a lot of his talent in this tournament especialy after his frustration from being substituted in the 1st game. He worked ever so hard for the team which i dont think has been highlighted by the UK media plc, who are always eager to jump or any negative story. This tournamen should be a major confidence boost for his career, and certainly has reignited Italy's confidence following the last WC. I certainly do look forward to the next WC in Brazil now. C'mon FiFa give the world a show that will shut down all other sporsts, including the IOC Olympics. Football is the most exiting sport ever

  • Comment number 76.

    OK, so the European Football Games are over and done and Spain reigns victorious. Whoo hoo! Can we now stop talking about football and have at least some of the summer as a "football free" period? All this football is getting very tiresome.

  • Comment number 77.

    Spain are head and shoulders above the rest of the world and the next generation are waiting to come through

    ----------------------------------------------------------

    It would appear that way and they were the best team overall but they were still two missed sitters away from crashing out in the group stages.

  • Comment number 78.

    #69. pieface

    Squad i agree with, thought he played as a second striker? i dont see those players as that, he would have been chosen as a striker so competing with Llorente, Torres and Negredo?

  • Comment number 79.

    Good to see the "boring" camp eating humble pie this morning, incidently the only time I got bored during this tournament was when England were playing

  • Comment number 80.

    @67

    looks like i succeeded as well.

    so i assume you do not think the inglish were both " boring " and " dull "

    from my perspective the best thing to happen in the tournament was the moment they were booted out, and left to whinge and moan about just how far they lag behind every team in europe apart from perhaps the Irish, Welsh and Scots.

  • Comment number 81.

    Does anyone else think that Fabregas's cross for the first goal was meant for Xavi and not Silva - i do, he seemed to hit it to hard for Silva and Xavi was a few yards behind him.

  • Comment number 82.

    Since when have Spain been regarded as boring? Since people have found it wise to write them off and how costly it proved for Italy! They were well and truely beaten, you can argue by saying that Italy didn't have enough time to prepare. Spain though were ruthless.
    They played convincingly grinding out results when it mattered. Then they chuffed their players for the final knowing they'd make the most out of an extra day's rest with tired and ageing opponents.
    That ended up in an emphatic 4-0 thumping of Italy. They owe that to Del Bosque's greatness.
    Managing a bunch of players like that was what France weren't able to do during their heyday, and it paid dividends.
    So yes they are the best team in the world at the moment. Are they better than Pele's 1970 Brazil? I don't know, it isn't really comparable and won't be comparable even if Spain win in 2014. Let's just admire them and England wise we can take heart out of our 1-0 victory albeit lucky but we beat the best team in the world.

  • Comment number 83.

    47 signori

    Great tournament from the Italians but they were found wanting in the end. Spain obviously learned from the first group game.

    I would go with Iniesta for player of the tournament.

  • Comment number 84.

    80 - a new manager came in a month before the tournament, several key players were injured, and yet we still won 2 and drew 2. The Italy match was a bit too defensive, much like Spain in the semis except they won the shoot-out. England still produced inspired moments like Carroll's goal against Sweden.

  • Comment number 85.

    There is an impressive level of revisionism going on with regards to how Spain played in this tournament.

    Spain were boring for most of the tournament.
    Spain were not boring in the final.

    The two are not mutually exclusive. Is that really so hard to understand?

  • Comment number 86.

    Morning

    commiserations signori


    Viva Espana!

  • Comment number 87.

    Spain were excellent and thoroughly deserve to be champions. Portugal must be rueing that penalty shoot out now!
    Spain went at Italy from the off, playing at a higher tempo and getting the ball into dangerous areas so it was no surprise when the goal came. After that it was all over, and Spain's to dictate the terms on how the rest of the game panned out.
    If Spain win in Brazil in 2014 then they can rightly be crowned the best team of all time.

  • Comment number 88.

    @47

    Before the game I thought Italy might have had a chance of nicking it if they went at Spain when they (Italy) didn't have the ball. They did a lot of what they had to in midfield, rarely gave Spain a chance to set up their little passing triangles and ended up with more ball than any of Spain's other opponents. They didn't let their heads drop at 1-0 and for me Spain were always going to have to score the second to stay comfortable. It's debatable whether Italy would have got back into it in the second half, but my heart went out to them when Motta went off, that really was game over and a sad way to finish what had until then been a superb game of football. Can't knock the class of the Spanish side, but full credit to Italy. They gave it pretty much everything.

  • Comment number 89.

    Apparently,mcnulty thinks he knows more about football than wenger on the basis of a single match.No wonder he keeps predicting liverpool to finish in the top 4 every season

  • Comment number 90.

    80.At 10:49 2nd Jul 2012, HAHA CharadeYouAre wrote:

    Believe me, your comments have not affected me in any, this is a blog, where people respond to comments made by other people, in which is what i am doing.

    England were never going to win this tournament and anyone what thought otherwise clearly do not know much about the beautiful game!

    Why do you keep on calling England.. Ingland????? Is the 'E' missing on you keyboard or something!

  • Comment number 91.

    @47, P.S.
    For me, Ramos for player of the tournament. The bloke was everywhere, you wouldn't think he's a centre half.

  • Comment number 92.

    Anyone else noticed that the top three European leagues were represented in the semis of this euros:
    1. La Liga
    2. Serie A
    3. Bundesliga

  • Comment number 93.

    #81
    Did you hear Alan Green's commentary on Silva's goal. He made out like it was the greatest goal ever scored. What I saw was a professional footballer on pretty much £200'000 a week head the ball into an empty net from 4 yards, after Fabregas had skipped past an injured and labouring defender.

  • Comment number 94.

    *bows down to Spain* They look relatively weak for most of the tournament...people start calling them on it, and then they come up with this! Awesome stuff!

  • Comment number 95.

    @ signori

    Squad i agree with, thought he played as a second striker? i dont see those players as that, he would have been chosen as a striker so competing with Llorente, Torres and Negredo?

    ----------------------------------------------

    When ever I seen him play, he plays a very similar role to Iniesta, coming in from the left wing and floating around to get on the ball, which is why I put him in with the other players of that mould. He is not an out and out striker like the other players you mentioned there, but is very much of that are they a striker? Are they a midfielder? Type player Spain seem to have so many of!

  • Comment number 96.

    Mcnulty thnks wenger should not criticise spain because arsenal have not won a trophy for 7 years.Wonder if mcnulty has ever kicked a ball in his life to criticise wenger.

  • Comment number 97.

    80.
    At 10:49 2nd Jul 2012, HAHA CharadeYouAre wrote:


    @67

    looks like i succeeded as well.

    so i assume you do not think the inglish were both " boring " and " dull "

    from my perspective the best thing to happen in the tournament was the moment they were booted out, and left to whinge and moan about just how far they lag behind every team in europe apart from perhaps the Irish, Welsh and Scots.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------

    HAHA we may lack inspiration going foward, but its hard to argue the group games were not entertaining.

  • Comment number 98.

    The boring argument stems from teams being too good for the other. It wasn't the best final from a spectators point of view. Attacking football and 2 competitive teams is what people are after.

    Like when Schumacher dominated F1, it was boring.

    Not saying the final was boring, it wasn't the best match of the tournament...but that is why people make this point.

    The Italians let themselves down today. Don't forget the semi between Portugal and Spain could have gone either way.

    Loved seeing Torres' kids in the goal.

    I still think Del Bosque makes strage decisions. Keeps pulling Silva off, puts on a winger without a centre forward etc.

  • Comment number 99.

    93.At 11:11 2nd Jul 2012, Weallfollowunited wrote:
    #81
    Did you hear Alan Green's commentary on Silva's goal. He made out like it was the greatest goal ever scored. What I saw was a professional footballer on pretty much £200'000 a week head the ball into an empty net from 4 yards, after Fabregas had skipped past an injured and labouring defender.


    Yeah i heard it too,he sopunded like it was some sort of 'wonder' goal, if id have heard it first on the radio, id be itching to get to a replay of it, but like you say it was a simple close range header, granted it was coming at him fast but it was still an open net so not so spectacular as Mr Green had made believe

  • Comment number 100.

    The boring tag is a load of old nonsense really because it doesn't speak to the objectionable traits the Spanish have that get people's backs up, namely their gamesmanship - largely unpunished, and hugely underplayed by the football media - during transition when their possession breaks down. This means that their games can often descend into long periods where either they passive possession in front of packed defences, or the ball is dead as players feign injury and we wait for restarts.

    However, people citing Spain's negative tactics seem a little clueless to me. What's negative about playing the game in the opposition's half? This tournament has seen Spain see the massed defences and raise them. Even supposed experts have moaned about there being no centre forward and whined about 4-6-0. And yet by the end Spain have shown that they have found a new option to combat whatever is put in front of them.

    Del Bosque insists that 4-6-0 is a figment of the media's imagination and that actually it's always 4-3-3. And he's right, of course. All this talk of false nines and packed midfields simply misses the point, which is that Spain have basically decided that they can get the space they need to commit defences collectively and still isolate individuals by simply using their attackers from a slightly deeper starting position. And they do this without adjusting the rest of the side too much, which makes the whole system ever more fluid, and ever more harder to pin down.

    Bravo to Spain. They were dull as ditch water for much of World Cup 2010 and desperately over-hyped despite obviously being the best side in what was a sub-standard competition. But here they are taking football to the next level and I for one applaud them. They made Italy look less than ordinary last night, and that was no mean achievement in itself, given the way Buffon, De Rossi, Montolivo and Pirlo had played in the tournament up to that point.

 

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