Super Spain in a league of their own
Spain were crowned as kings of Europe on Sunday as they lifted the Euro 2012 trophy following a 4-0 demolition of Italy in Kiev.
In achieving a unique treble, many fans and pundits are lauding this Spanish team as the greatest ever to the play the beautiful game.
Spain brushed aside criticism levelled at them during the tournament for being “boring” and suffocating their opposition with a devastating display.
Despite some below-par performances along the way, most notably against an inspired effort from Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal in the semi-final, Spain were always capable entering a higher gear when required.
They have proved themselves to be peerless in the modern game with an unerring passing game and killer instinct in front of goal underpinned by a stingy defence.
With their own brand of “total” football, Spain have stunned analysts throughout Euro 2012 by playing without a recognised striker in a system which may come to revolutionise the game.
Can Spain be stopped?
The “false number 9” system has allowed Spain to maximise their midfield strengths and give license to Andres Inietsa, Cesc Fabregas and David Silva to maraud forward.
The next wave of attack has come in the form of full-backs Alvaro Arbeloa and, most notably, the scintillating Jordi Alba who have effectively operated as wingers.
This approach has made it extremely difficult for opposing defences to anticipate where the next attack is come from and marking almost impossible.
Meanwhile, Iker Casillas has presided over a defence which has not conceded a goal in a knock-out match since 2006.
This phenomenal statistic, due in large part to how Spain dominate possession in most matches, has continued during Euro 2012 despite the absence of the influential Carles Puyol.
The core of this squad will now go to Brazil in 2014 confident that they can achieve a unique 'double double' and the rest of the world will be left scratching their heads as to how they can be stopped.
By Paul Gould