Spain’s non-galacticos deliver deserved triumph

June 30, 2008

Spain celebrate euro 2008 win

Spain made winning Euro 2008 look decidedly easy, but a major tournament triumph does not come by accident. Here’s how Spain’s first big title in 44 years came about.

1. Game plan: Spain concentrated on doing what they do best, namely keeping the ball and letting their rivals exhaust themselves trying to win it back. It meant tough decisions for coach Luis Aragones, who left good, but less technically gifted footballers at home. Aragones based his team on the creative talents who came through the Barca youth teams — Xavi, Iniesta and Fabregas — and stuck with them to the end.

2. Team spirit: This Spain team doesn’t believe in galacticos — stars who are bigger than the team itself. This wasn’t Ballack’s Germany, Beckham’s England or Ronaldo’s Portugal. This was Spain’s Spain. When asked why Villa was left out for the game against Greece, when the Valencia striker might have made all but certain of finishing as top scorer, Aragones said he wasn’t after individual awards, it was a collective trophy that he sought.

It’s the main reason why he left Raul at home.

3. Generosity: Players like Senna ran their hearts out to let the more creative midfielders shine. Villa was the team’s first defender, and captain Iker Casillas invited everybody to his room to play cards at night. The collective was above the individuals.

4. Concentration: Spain made sure they were never distracted at this tournament. I didn’t seen a photo of any WAG and after reading British and Spanish newspapers every day of the tournament, the only reference to family and friends I have is the news of Casillas’s mother fainting in the penalty shoot-out against Italy. There was no circus surrounding the Spanish camp.

5. Bravery: Aragones didn’t hesitate to remove the likes of Torres, Xavi, Iniesta and Fabregas when the team needed it. Torres complained in the first match and he was silenced.

6. International experience: Players such as Torres and Fabregas were decisive in the wins against Italy and Germany. The success they and other players have had in England helped the team shrug off Spain’s old inferiority complex.

7. Equilibrium: The team has been strong in all areas. Casillas and the defence were the heroes against Italy. The creative midfield beat Russia, with Xavi and Silva, two midfielders, scoring in the semi-final. And it was the strikers Torres and Villa who sealed victory in the first and last matches.

All lines contributed. It was a triumph of the team, and team spirit.


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So what happens now that Aragonés is off – can Vicente Del Bosque (the only man who managed to make a team out of Real’s galácticos) carry on building on the virtues of the squad he will inherit?

Posted by Gonzalo @ All In White | Report as abusive

It was a well deserved victory over Germany in which the Spaniards displayed speed, tactics and world-class skills. Football at it’s best.

Posted by Sunee | Report as abusive

Not a huge Aragones fan here, but you have to give it to him. He understood his players and their abilities and designed a system built to win this tournament. Spain’s ball control offense is well thought out, despite the fact it may not be very popular. If you’re the opposition, you can’t score without the ball! 06/coming-full-circle-on-starting-eleven .html

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

Good post, interesting read :)
Viva España!

I wonder what the outcome would be with Spain vs Argentina or Spain vs Brazil… can’t wait for 2010 and hope Spain keeps the momentum up and the spirit of breaking jinxes by being the 1st European country to win the world cup outside of Europe! :)

Posted by Five Times | Report as abusive

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Posted by Ballack hanya terpana melihat lautan merah itu « livergirl | Report as abusive

When I heard Raul has been left out of the team, I was excited because it meant Spain could finally function as a cohesive football team. I was right and Spain finally won the competition! Great football from Spain and hope to see more of the same in World Cup 2010.

Posted by nigel | Report as abusive

with this win spainas entered a new league in the soccer world, with fans and the world now wanting the same results from spain in the next world cup.
mark osborn
sofa beds

Posted by mosborn2020 | Report as abusive

You’re right – it was a total team effort. Aragones – even while people criticized him – clearly got most of the big decisions right. As a result, he ended up with a beautiful, winning team.

Posted by Beautifulgamer | Report as abusive

act like a professional footballers, instead of a celebrity, then you’ll be a champion..

Posted by cahyo | Report as abusive

yeah spain was awesome. it was really good to see a return to true football, its a bit like the dutch total football revival of the 60’s-70’s. anyway, the real stuff has been killed at club level during the last decade or so especially, by professionalism in europe and money in england, but its good to see spain show everyone that it doesnt have to be galacticos or hollywood wannabes who can win

Posted by Dan | Report as abusive