Sunday night in Kiev and Spain reigned again, their 3rd major international title in a row, added to the 2010 World Cup and 2008 European Championship wins has rewritten the record books.
I felt some pride in having tipped Italy (after their opening group game, a 1-1 draw against eventual champions Spain) to be dark horses and they were but Spain were just too good in the end.
In Italy’s quarter final against England and their semi final victory over Germany there had been 2 star men for the Azzurri.
Englishman and Germans alike asked how to stop Pirlo, ‘l’architetto’, running the show from his familiar quarterback position. Simple, don’t let him have the ball. Spain’s total domination of possession proved the perfect antidote to Andrea Pirlo.
As for Mario Balotelli, his semi final performance proved he can show maturity beyond his 21 years but was never given a sniff of glory at the big event. As often the hero as the villain Mario did well to keep his composure in what was, essentially, a battering for the Italians who ended with 10 men, Thiago Motta forced to retire after coming on as Cesar Prandelli’s final substitute.
The ‘tiki-taka’ style that has become synonymous with the current Spanish national side was on full flow throughout the final. Pass, pass, pass, a deadly defence splitting pass and a cool headed finish created all 4 goals.
For the first time fans looked upon the Spanish style unfavourably, especially when applying the unconventional 4-6-0 formation. The critics didn’t deter Vicente Del Bosque, he persisted with Cesc Fabregas as the ‘false 9’ and nobody can argue with such a compounding final result.
At times during the tournament labelled ‘boring’, at the end ‘champions’.
Spain saved their best performance for when it mattered most, the 4-0 triumph over Italy sent the researchers into a frenzy of tumbling records.
Apologies for any I might have missed:
- · The first nation to win 3 consecutive major international tournaments in the modern era
- · The first nation to defend the European Championship title
- · 4-0 is the biggest victory in a European Championship final
- · 13 of the Spain squad are the first players to appear in and win 2 European Championship finals
- · Spain have the longest unbeaten run at the European Championships, 12 games
- · Fernando Torres is the first player to score in consecutive European Championship finals
- · Iker Casillas is the first player to win 100 international matches
- · Iker Casillas has gone 509 minutes without conceding a goal in the European Championships
- · Vicente Del Bosque is the only coach to have won the Champions League (twice), World Cup and European Championships
Italy did help set a record of a more positive note for themselves, the record for the most ‘tweets’ per second (15358 per second) when Juan Mata completed the 4-0 victory in the 88th minute.
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