There is no doubt that Spain’s 4-0 win over Italy in the 2012 Euro Cup Final was nothing short of historic. There is no doubt that “La Roja” was the best in every single game, going 4-0-2 throughout the tournament. There is no doubt their defense and offense were far superior than the field, conceding only one goal while scoring twelve in six matches. And there is no doubt Spain is the greatest team in the history of the sport, winning three consecutive major tournaments (Euro 2008, World Cup 2012, Euro 2012). But there is doubt that in this tournament Spain did not face-off against their most dangerous competitors.
The Italian National Team made an unbelievable run in 2012, exceeding expectations and making the most of their opportunities. Unfortunately Italy was not up to the challenge for their second meeting with Spain in yesterdays final losing 4-0. After edging out England in penalty kicks and shocking Germany in a 2-1 upset, it seemed the Italians didn’t have enough left to keep up with the Spaniards. Two first half goals handicapped Italy’s strategy for the rest of the match, and even though chances came, “The Azzurri” could not muster the magic they had relied on for the past month.
In typical Spanish fashion, the midfield was patient, poised, and struck early finishing prime opportunities getting behind the Italy backfield. With much of the Italian’s focus on Iniesta, Xavi, and Fábregas, the young Jordi Alba was able to use his speed to break the Italian’s line. After an early assist to David Silva in the box, Alba’s counter attack run in the fed by an Iniesta through ball led to the second and most destructive goal by Spain. The second half became merely a backyard pickup game for the defending Euro and World Cup Champions, scoring two more goals against a defeated 10-man squad from Italy. Before one could blink, Spain a quickly secured, sealed, and dominated their way to a historic Championship. It seemed all too easy for the Spanish during their latest run because in Spanish standards–it was.
This takes nothing away from Portugal, Italy, Croatia, or any of Spain’s opponents, but an indifferent view of yesterdays final was disappointing. It is always memorable to see history, but how memorable can the largest blowout in Euro Cup history be? In 2008 Spain had to face a solid German squad and in 2010 there was the extra time victory over the Netherlands. How can a 4-0 shellacking of Italy live up to those legendary competitions? Germany matched-up with Spain better than the emotionally drained Italians, and an in-form Netherlands may have pressed Spain to the brink. Portugal was the only team to really worry Spain in the tournament, and the semifinal match may have been the unofficial final for Spain. Italy’s efforts were valiant, but Spain did not receive much of a fight compared to a potential final versus Germany. Everyone loves an underdog story, but fans and media alike coveted a Spain/Germany final, truly testing Spain’s reign of international football. Only speculation remains in a what-could-have-been celebration of a Spanish dynasty. We now kneel to the glory accomplished, no matter how difficult or easy it may have been for “La Roja”.