EURO2012 FINAL: SPAIN 4-0 ITALY
The Spanish have not been a popular team going into the finals as they have been described as too boring in their possession football style of play as well as lacking goals. The Italians had been the crowd favourites with the upset of Germany in the semifinals with Pirlo inspiring them all the way. If you have heard how the whistles went every time Spain had the ball during the quarters and semis as well as the majority of comments and people wanting Italy to win, I guess Spain had created many enemies with their tiki-taka football. This final is their rematch in this tournament after the 1-1 draw in the opening group match.
I was never a fan of Torres with his current form and I was hoping that Del Bosque will not play him tonight in the starting line-up. When he announced that he would use three forwards before the match, I was abit worried. I hope he won't introduce some funny names into the line-up. Just put Fabregas in or Pedro or both. Luckily, it was just Fabregas and another false nine strategy. Spain played a fast paced game in the first half, a strategy effective to break open the stubborn Italian defence.
In the 14th minute, Iniesta sent a nice through pass to cut through the Italian defence, which was taken by Fabregas, who sent a cross from the right for David Silva to nod in for the opening goal. I believe the Italians lost some edge in defence after Chiellini could not carry on as he was substituted in the 21st minute from an injury sustained. In the 41st minute, Xavi sent another great pass which allowed Jordi Alba to run in to score. By half-time, it looked exactly like the Germany-Italian semifinal, only this time it was not the Italians who were leading.
In the 50th minute, Spain might have a valid call for penalty as Ramos' strike hit Bonucci's arm after a rebound but the referee did not call for it. In the 61st minute, Thiago Motta got a right hamstring while running towards the Spanish goal. Unfortunately, Italy had to play with 10 men as they had used up all their substitutions. It was really an unlucky night for Italy. They looked tired trying to cut the Spanish passes. Although they were trailing, they seemed to want the match to end. In the 84th minute, Torres scored a shot from a through pass by Xavi which I guess pretty much sealed the game for Spain. Matta finally ended the match completely with Torres getting the through ball while assisting to him to score. Spain finished the match with 56.6% possession, scoring 4 out of 6 shots on goal while Italy had 4 shots on goal. They won 71.4% of the aerial duels, produced 577 passes against 441 by Italy and generated 88.4% passing accuracy against 83.4% by Italy.
Spain broke a few records with this win. Casillas became the first player in international football history to win 100 matches for his country. He also beat Dino Zoff's 494 minutes without conceding a goal record as he reached 509 minutes. Fernando Torres became the golden boot winner for scoring 3 goals in the tournament, a record shared by Mario Gomez, Alan Dzagoev, Mario Mandzukic, Mario Balotelli and Cristiano Ronaldo. He tied with Gomez with the same amount of goals as well as 1 assist but he played much less than the rest. He only played 189 minutes, followed by 282 minutes by Gomez and 253 minutes by Dzagoev. He also became the first player to score in two EURO finals. David Silva's two goals and three assists also made him to be involved in 5 goals, the highest for any player in the tournament. Xavi became the first to register two final assists. 13 members of their squad are also the first group of players to play in and win two Euro finals. As for Spain, they are the first team in history to win three major international tournaments in a row (Euro 2008 and World Cup 2010 before this). They also achieved 12 unbeaten games record in the EURO tournament from 2008.
Italy might have lost heavily but they went far in this tournament beyond everyone's expectations so they should be proud of themselves. They had upset all odds to be the finalists, especially the famous win against Germany. The younger generation minus Cassano, Pirlo and Buffon might give the younger German generation a run in the future. As for Spain, I guess the underdog tag and the boring tiki-taka style of football of theirs are probably forgotten after this. They are the immortals now so we'll see if they can be consistent in their performance till the next World Cup. The player that impressed me in this tournament is definitely Alba and for that reason, Barcelona will have another reason to be confident for the coming season. Overall, it has been a great tournament and time to readjust back to the normal sleeping pattern for GMT+8!
CONGRATULATIONS, LA FURIA ROJA!