Spain prove they are far from dull in Euro win over Italy
It may seem odd that a team with the passing prowess of Andres Iniesta and the precision of Xavi and Xabi Alonso could be regarded as boring; but that was precisely the complaint against Spain going into their Euro 2012 final with Italy.
Aficionados of the blood and thunder British game may balk at the passing teams to death approach. Spain proved, as if they needed to, that they could entertain and stifle in equal measure.
The final was broadcast simultaneously on the BBC and ITV. The BBC had the novel idea of offering alternative commentary from CBBC, the BBC children’s network, whether the children’s presenters made more sense than Mark Lawrenson is a debate for another time.
Spain saved the best till last in Euro 2012. Going into the final they averaged a mere 1.8 goals a game in the tournament compared to 2.4 in matches not involving Spain. The boring tag was starting to stick.
Whether Spain played with entertainment in mind or not in their final with Italy; they proved a point, they can pass the life out of a game but also pass life into one.
It didn’t take them long to open up Italy. It was coming. Their famous tiki-taka passing game got the opening it deserved in the 14th minute; Fabregas whipped a stinging cross into the path of David Silva who headed home with aplomb.
It was the start the game needed and the polar opposite from the pass teams to death approach Spain were criticised for before the match.
They doubled their advantage after 41 minutes from Jordi Alba. Alba took advantage of a surgical pass from Xavi that opened up the innards of the Italian defence.
Italy’s resistance wilted in the second half when they went down to ten men, due to injury and no remaining substitutions available for manager Cesare Prandelli.
Fernando Torres joined the party late in the 84th minute with his third of the tournament. Minutes later he helped his Chelsea team-mate Juan Mata with an assist that ensured Mata scored with his first kick of the tournament. 4-0 it finished.
Three major tournaments in a row for Spain: Euro 2008, World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012. The debate about just how entertaining they are, or otherwise, will continue. But one issue isn’t up for debate; they are one of the finest football teams ever assembled.
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