Spain Silence the Critics with Emphatic UEFA Euro 2012 Win

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistJuly 1, 2012

KIEV, UKRAINE - JULY 01:  Xavi Hernandez of Spain with the ball during the UEFA EURO 2012 final match between Spain and Italy at the Olympic Stadium on July 1, 2012 in Kiev, Ukraine.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Spain became the first team in history to win three straight international tournaments, by dispatching Italy by an emphatic 4-0 scoreline. In doing so, Vicente del Bosque's team answered the growing number of critics who have derided them as "boring" during Uefa Euro 2012.

Even Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger added his name to the list of pundits who believe Spain's technical proficiency is a rejection of entertaining football. The Daily Telegraph reports Wenger's belief that Spain no longer dominate possession with an attack first mentality.

However, even Wenger will have a hard time making that view seem credible after the Spanish tore through the traditionally defensively strong Italians, in a performance full of forward-thinking flair. Spain attacked from the start and didn't let up until they had achieved the biggest margin of victory in a European Championship final.

Typically neat and tidy in possession, Spain combined their accomplished passing with genuine ambition and invention. This blend saw them take a 2-0 first half lead as midfielders Xavi and Iniesta threaded through inch-perfect passes to take advantage of the wily movement of Cesc Fabregas, David Silva and Jordi Alba.

As inevitable as Spain's Euro 2012 triumph may have been, it still has important implications for the game. A tournament win by a team favouring expansive and creative, passing football, is also a victory for the spirit of the game as a whole, particularly at its highest levels.

This season has seen an increasing number of top-tier teams "park the bus" and rely on an ultra-defensive approach, masquerading as sophisticated tactical thinking. Chelsea's successful Uefa Champions League campaign is a prime example.

England based their cagey approach at Euro 2012 on the Chelsea model and it is a shame to see so many teams treat attacking football as some kind of naive approach to the game. Chelsea's victory and indeed, Inter Milan's similar triumph in the 2009/10 season, have made the no-risk, stifling style the vogue.

Those who adopt it are considered tactically astute, rather than simply playing not to lose, instead of daring to win. When they win, they usually sneak it, or are the beneficiaries of luck. Yet they can simply point to the trophy as the end to justify all means.

By patiently passing their way through defensive-minded teams, Spain have proved that the silverware so many are willing to cheapen the game to attain, can be gained while still playing the game in the style it deserves. That is the real legacy and triumph of this historic team.