The Reuters global sports blog
“Boring” Spain set new standards
Chastised and lambasted in the early stages of Euro 2012 for passing the ball sideways and backwards too often for the liking of goal-hungry fans and journalists, who had thrived in the feast of a wildly entertaining tournament, Spain silenced all their critics with a ruthless of display of flamboyant flair and lethal finishing in a one-sided final which made Italy look like a bunch of schoolboys.
Vicente Del Bosque’s “boring” strategy, based on deploying a strikerless formation to draw out opponents who park the proverbial bus in their own half, in fact proved to be a masterstroke which none of Spain’s rivals could cope with.
Not only have the Spaniards set new standards by winning their third successive major trophy, but their plethora of ways to break down the opposition has also given the other title contenders at the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil a serious headache, with apparently no prescription available.
This Spanish outfit can seemingly knock the ball around with their eyes closed all night in any formation required.
Although Fernando Torres finished as the team’s top scorer with three goals, his role in the success was peripheral in comparison with the weight carried by at least half a dozen of his team mates, none more so than player of the tournament Andres Iniesta, the magnificent Xavi and outstanding left back Jordi Alba.
Even more frightening for the opposition is the fact that Spain romped through the tournament without injured first-choice striker David Villa and defender Carles Puyol, while a pack of brilliant young lions in their 23-man squad, led by prolific hitman Fernando Llorente, were reduced to spectators on the bench.
Such is the strength of Del Bosque’s first XI and such is the depth of his squad that Brazil, Argentina, Germany and the rest will be scratching their heads for the next two years trying to figure out a way to dethrone the most fearsome football empire the world has seen since Pele’s Brazil.
After everything is said and done, after all the strategies that failed against Spain one way or the other since they embarked on their wonderful journey by beating Russia 4-1 in their Euro 2008 opener, it seems the only way to prevail is to beat them at their own game.
Take the ball away from them, make them chase shadows and carve them open with defense-splitting passes.
At this point in time that is a tall order even on Sony Playstation, where anything is possible, hence Spain have every chance of becoming the first European side to win a World Cup on South American soil in two years’ time.
With their talent and resources, it seems they can only grow stronger and Del Bosque will once again be spoilt for choice when picking a team which has become the envy of Europe.