Spain’s golden generation rewrites history
With an exceptional display against Italy in the Euro 2012 final, Spain successfully defended their title. After three major tournament wins in a row, the sky is apparently the limit for La Roja.
By Halima Ali
Spanish captain Iker Casillas was at it again on Sunday night. Though he has long been crowned San Iker by his club fans, he may just have performed the three miracles needed to obtain sainthood. The culmination of the three-week tournament played in Poland and Ukraine ended with the goalkeeper lifting the Henri Delaunay trophy for the second time. In between European championships, La Roja were also crowned world champions in South Africa 2010.
In the final, Spain gave a commanding performance in a 4-0 rout of Italy, a side they had failed to beat over 90 minutes for 98 years. Their route to the final began against the very same team, and the Azzurri were the only side to have scored against the Spanish in the entire tournament in a 1-1 draw in the group round.
That game had been a tight affair but the final saw Spain finally hit top gear and truly put on a passing masterclass. David Silva opened the scoring early, after Andrés Iniesta threaded a perfect pass through for Cesc Fàbregas to cross for the Manchester City player to head in on 14 minutes.
Italy had a couple of chances through Antonio Cassano, but with Mario Balotelli, who made such an impression against Germany in the semi-final, unable to reach the same heights, they remained second best.
Spain’s second goal arrived just before halftime when new Barcelona signing Jordi Alba exchanged passes with Xavi and burst through the centre of the Italian defence before beating Gianluigi Buffon.
In the second half, Italy were denied twice in quick succession by Casillas and their hopes of a comeback were well and truly buried when their final substitute, Thiago Motta, was stretchered off after being on the pitch only five minutes, leaving Spain to take full advantage.
In the 84th minute, substitute Fernando Torres slotted home the third and then cleverly set up his Chelsea teammate Juan Mata to score with virtually his first touch of the ball.
The cycle of winning began four years ago against Italy in a quarter-final penalty shootout which seemingly changed the course of Spain’s football destiny. This latest triumph has seen them continue to rewrite the history books. They are the first team to win three major tournaments back to back, but it does not end there. Casillas becomes the first footballer ever to win 100 international matches with his national team. Vicente del Bosque is the first coach to win the treble of the Champions League, the World Cup and the Euros.
Torres, who had endured an often torrid season for Chelsea that included what he himself admitted were the worst moments of his career, became the first man to score in two European Championship finals and with a goal and an assist in the last six minutes of the final win against Italy, the striker won himself the tournament’s Golden Boot with a total of three goals and one assist. No other team have scored four goals in a European final.
But, what is truly striking is that Spain don’t look as if their powers are waning. They have had two different managers and employed different players but remain faithful to a style of play that brings them success. The Germans may have looked strong at the beginning of the tournament, the Netherlands are always bursting with talent and Italy always prove competitive, but La Roja do not look as if they will slow down any time soon.
The next major tournament is the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. No European side has ever won in South America but this Spain side will be undeterred. They are writing their own history.
Next: Profile: Spain’s gentlemanly football genius, Vicente del Bosque
Previous: Euro up as Spain, Italy take a stand
Published: Jul 2 2012
Category: Featured, Spain News, Sports
Republication: Creative Commons, non-commercial
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Tags: Del Bosque, Fernando Torres, la roja, spain, Spain football, spain news, spain soccer, spain vs italy, spanish football, spanish news, Spanish soccer, Xavi