All-conquering Spain made it back-to-back European Championships with a commanding 4-0 win over Italy on Sunday. Vicente del Bosque's side set their attacking marker out early and were at their imperious best as they took a 2-0 first-half lead via goals from David Silva and Jordi Alba. Substitutes Fernando Torres and Juan Mata then added goals at the death to wrap up the victory and, here, we look at some of the major talking points from the final.
Last Updated: July 2, 2012 12:59pm
Spain were back to their best with a rampant 4-0 win over Italy in Kiev on Sunday night. Surprise-package Italy did well to reach the final but had no answer to a Spanish side who recaptured their top form when it mattered most. Here, we examine the issues that emerged from a history-making night for Spain.
Spain wrote their names into the history books with the win over Italy. Del Bosque's side became the first team to successfully defend their European Championship crown, while they also became the first European side to win three consecutive major tournaments, following the 2010 World Cup victory sandwiched in between. The debate will continue as to whether they are the greatest team in history but statistics prove they are better than the likes of the Brazil, Holland and West Germany sides of the 1970s and the French team of 1998 and 2000.
Men on a mission
In the build-up, Spain had claimed to not have been bothered by the 'boring' tag which their critics had started to sneer following a lack of end product to their passing game. But Del Bosque's team began the final with a clear intent to make a statement. In the opening 13 minutes, Spain completed 103 passes out of 116 and then opened the scoring via Silva. It was a fantastic start and set the tone for the rest of the match.
Silva did not earn the praise of the likes of Andrea Pirlo or team-mate Xavi at Euro 2012, but he took his excellent form, which helped Manchester City to the Premier League title, into the finals. Silva was involved in the most goals at Euro 2012. He scored two, including one in the final, and assisted three. Also, only Torres and David Villa (four) have now scored more goals than Silva for Spain at the Euros.
Heads we win
Silva scored the 22nd headed goal of Euro 2012, a record tally in the history of the European Championship. This could be taken as an indication of the importance of sides now playing with three-pronged attacks and more forwards in wide areas to supply crosses. The accuracy of set-plays throughout the tournament has been another factor.
No way through
With yet another clean sheet, Spain's defence extended a fine record going into the game of not having conceded a goal in 900 minutes of action in major tournament knockout games, a streak which amazingly started in the quarter finals of Euro 2008. It also means they had the best defensive record at Euro 2012 with only one goal conceded - against the Italians in their first match of the group stage.
Italian playmaker Pirlo had been the scourge of Germany and England in the previous two knock-out rounds but could not have the same influence on this game. Spain gave the Juventus midfielder no time on the ball, sometimes swamping him in numbers, so he was forced deep and often had to pass backwards. Tellingly, the 3-year-old's most significant contribution in this game was tackling Andres Iniesta in his own box in the first-half as the Spanish ace looked to score.
Out of luck
Italy were always going to be up against it, but ran out of luck as the game wore on. They were already two goals down by the time Thiago Motta was carried away on a stretcher after damaging his hamstring soon after coming on. With three changes having already been made, they were forced to see out the final half-an-hour with 10 men. They did well to keep Spain at bay until the final six minutes, but a late flurry was always on the cards. A four-goal defeat was harsh on the Azzurri, but they can be proud of their efforts at a tournament in which few expected them to mount a challenge.
The Azzurri went into the final unbeaten in their 15 competitive games under Cesare Prandelli: 10 wins and five draws. While outplayed by the champions in Kiev, their performance has restored pride in the national side after their early World Cup exit two years ago.