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Pure quality

Part 17: final thoughts on Spain's Euro 2012 victory

Guillem Balague - Guillem Balague Posted 2nd July 2012 view comments

During the final it was interesting to see the close marking of Xavi on Pirlo, and with the attentions of Cesc as well, the Italian's playmaker found it impossible to impose himself. The alternative for Italy is De Rossi, who gave Italy options in the first game - but the Spanish were wise to that as well and kept him covered.

So it wasn't all about attacking, the Spanish had a well thought out defensive strategy and game plan as well.

Cesc admitted that he had played the final more as a number 9, rather than a false nine. But if you ask me, I'd say he was a 10 and a half - if its possible - as he also participated a great deal in the build up to Spain's attacks.

Let the party begin!

Let the party begin!

A new style of football? More like a progression.

As a Premier League manager told me last night in an sms message, what chance has the rest of the world got if Spain don't even play with a striker and still win by scoring four in a final of that magnitude? Well, we still had 11 players on the pitch, it's not like we took one off! I answered. Teams have been lucky against Spain defending deep. So for the Spanish it was time to invent new ways of attacking!

If you have the players of the highest technical quality and understanding of the game, you can ask them to do, play or approach the game any way you want. But it's the quality of the ingredients that determine the recipe, whether you're making paella or a steak and kidney pie...

Guillem Balague
Quotes of the week

And another point. Amidst the debates over strikers and false strikers, formations and attacking or defensive set ups; one thing became clear this tournament: if you have the players of the highest technical quality and understanding of the game, you can ask them to do, play or approach the game any way you want. Anyway, long, short, passing. But it's the quality of the ingredients that determine the recipe, whether you're making paella or a steak and kidney pie...

Amidst the chaos and the celebrations, I spoke to the players after the match last night and there was nothing that could take the shine off their glorious moment and sense of complete satisfaction at what they had just achieved. I must admit, I felt the same. But, nevertheless, there was something I had to ask them: Now it was all over, how had the criticism from certain quarters affected them? Obviously there are those who completely failed to see what Spain were doing in previous games, when, at a major tournament, they were doing what they needed to secure progression, to preserve and conserve their energy and possibilities. As a consequence, they were accused of being boring! The players laughed at those suggestions... 'bah, opinions'.

But one person's comments did upset them after the match when they were told what Arsene Wenger had said earlier that day.

The Arsenal coach had said: "They have betrayed their philosophy and turned it into something more negative. Originally they wanted possession in order to attack and win the game; now it seems to be first and foremost a way not to lose.

"They have become more conservative, and they don't want to give the ball up because they don't want to give you a chance to score. That's the impression you get from Euro 2012. Yes, it can be hard to break down defensive opponents, but this is a challenge that confronts every successful team."

As one player told me "Arsene knows more than anybody how hard it is to get titles, why did he have to say that?"

And another one said, "He is a football man, he could have waited till after the final to say that."

Nevertheless, nothing was going to stop those players from enjoying their success. The party had started.

Guillem Balague's Euro Diary will become, along with added entries and interviews, an eBook at the end of the tournament.

For more info, check

Comments (4)

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Steven Daniels (Liverpool fan) says...

spain played well..passed the ball about great..but they are still boring though..theres a awful lot of people saying it..they cant all be wrong..people want more than pretty pretty is a mans game after all..get what im saying

Posted 00:23 3rd July 2012

William Cruikshank (Hearts fan) says...

Torres getting the golden boot, tells you more about how good Ronaldo was this season, if someone like Torres who has lost his pace, can get three goals in not very many minutes, this tells me why Messi got so many goals, with the superb Xavi and Iniesta setting up thousands of chances for him. Ronaldo had to make most of his own goals.

Posted 20:18 2nd July 2012

Mikey Mejor (Atletico Madrid fan) says...

¡Felicidades España! Spain have adapted to deal with teams that park the bus and hope for something on the counter attack and as a result been criticised for being negative themselves! I don't understand some people's mentality and I am surprised that Mr Wenger is one of them critics! As an England supporter living in Spain I can only dream of the day the English learn how to control the ball and hold possession, right now we are light years behind the Spanish and the gap doesn't look like closing any time in the near future! For those who claim that Spain are boring, they were the top scoring team of the tournament with 12 goals, 2 more than Germany and 6 more than Italy and Portugal in 3rd place! As Rafa would say 'FACT' Tiki Taka para siempre!

Posted 18:16 2nd July 2012

Mfanadez Mangweni (Liverpool fan) says...

At least sanity prevailed,the best team of the tornament won,all those people who called them boring are either jealous or have no idea what good soccer is.This Spanish side is so good the only opponent capable of beating them is Spain.The scary part is they are young enough to dominate for some time yet,so get used to the flowetry,Viva le Spania,they are the closest thing to a perfect team.Other teams must step up their game,Germany are on track,Italy must introduce more youth,England must build a new team,Brazil and Argentina can take Spain on

Posted 17:30 2nd July 2012

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