Vicente Del Bosque's Spain team banish boring tag as Italy mislay tactics in Euro 2012 final

 

The Olympic Stadium

Now, there can be no more questions. Not only might Spain be the greatest team of all time after winning an astonishing third successful trophy. They may well be the most innovative. Not to mention, at this exalted level, unbeatable.

After four years in which Vicente del Bosque's side have had to face a series of teams who have dropped deeper and deeper against them, his solution has been to start with three attacking midfielders up front rather than a nominal striker. He did it again last night.

It has created a lot of debate. It also, however, created the platform for history to be made. Indeed, this entire coronation effectively served as a culmination of their possession, pressing-based approach.

Most of all, it was anything but boring. It was brilliant. By the quarter-hour, Spain had made a mockery of so many of the debates.Indeed, the opening goal was almost the perfect illustration of Del Bosque's entire rationale with the system.

After a kaleidoscopic passing move, the three rotating attackers combined to produce a goal that was at once exhilaratingly complex but also supremely orthodox.

First, Andres Iniesta played a divine through ball for Cesc Fabregas. He went around the outside while David Silva went around the inside, with the latter then very simply heading in Fabregas's chip.

This has been the whole point of Del Bosque's system: for the interchanging attacking midfielders to confuse opposition defenders and thereby create extra space.

The key difference between last night and previous matches, though, was that Spain simply looked so much sharper and so much less fatigued. Unlike the four days between the quarter-final and semi-final in which they did so much needless travelling between north-west Poland and south-east Ukraine, the same time period here set up this performance. In a way that they didn't against Portugal, all of their passes were coming off.

It wasn't the only difference, though. Italy were pressing much more aggressively – in terms of both position on the pitch and physicality – than pretty much any other side that has played Spain.

It also, however, created much more space for Spain; the kind of space they thrive in and which so many other teams have sought desperately to deny them.

Here, it must be said that Cesare Prandelli took a big risk. Having previously been the most tactically astute manager for the vast majority of this tournament, he was shown exactly why so few teams actually take this gamble against the Spanish: they tend to get ripped apart.

There were a few moments, it must be said, when they could perhaps have done with a more orthodox forward: not least on six minutes when Jordi Alba crossed from the left with no one there to meet it.

As a result, once Italy finally got to grips with the game after Spain actually scored the first, they were still in it. And, for a 15-minute spell, they put the Spanish under some real pressure.

Then, however, Spain simply stepped up again. And, after a largely indifferent tournament for someone of his undoubted quality, so did Xavi. With Alba thundering forward, the player that has defined this generation played a ball of equal quality to Iniesta's for the left-back to slide past Gianluigi Buffon.

Xavi didn't exactly define this tournament though. And, in the end, neither did Pirlo. That was Iniesta. When it mattered most, too, he had the biggest influence.

As if to add insult to injury, then, Spain did bring on a forward and he did score. What's more Fernando Torres became joint-top scorer.

It was yet another sign of their complete domination. By then, though, any argument was long over.

Suggested Topics
News
peopleJonathan Ross has got a left-field suggestion to replace Clarkson
Sport
Lewis Hamilton secured his second straight pole of the season
f1Vettel beats Rosberg into third after thunderstorm delays qualifying
Arts and Entertainment
The teaser trailer has provoked more questions than answers
filmBut what is Bond's 'secret' that Moneypenny is talking about?
News
Johnny Depp is perhaps best known for his role as Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean
peopleBut how did he break it?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
football This was Kane’s night, even if he played just a small part of it
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
news
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
News
Threlfall says: 'I am a guardian of the reality keys. I think I drive directors nuts'
people
Voices
voices The group has just unveiled a billion dollar plan to help nurse the British countryside back to health
News
The Westgate, a gay pub in the centre of Gloucester which played host to drag queens, has closed
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss