Simply the best
World and European champions Spain are the greatest national team of all time, says Paul Merson.
Last Updated: 09/08/12 1:36pm
Spain were sublime against Italy in the final of Euro 2012 and, in my opinion, are now the best national team of all time.
They've won three international tournaments in a row and none of the great sides of the past have achieved that.
Brazil, Holland, West Germany - they've all had top teams but the modern game is a lot harder, a lot quicker and the players have to play a lot more matches. This current Spain side are a class above everyone else.
We're lucky England didn't meet them. I read Jamie Redknapp's column and he said we're behind the times - well, Spain's performance in the final was a prime example of that. The way they pass and move, play the simple ball and make angles for each other is incredible. Then, when they lose the ball, their closing down is second to none.
They interchange positions and, even though they don't play with anyone up front, there's always someone making the forward run at the right time. They don't play Subbuteo football like England. Their manager must sit on the bench and think he's got the best job in the world.
They've had some stick during this tournament but we have a thing in this world where we expect people to be unbelievable all the time, but you just can't do that. It's impossible. Look at Rafa Nadal at Wimbledon last week. He lost to Lukas Rosol, who's ranked 100 in the world. If he played that lad another 500 times he wouldn't lose again. We get spoilt by Spain and think they've got to win 4-0 every week. But, even in the games where they have drawn 0-0, such as against Portugal, you can see why they are so good. When it came to extra-time in that match you thought, with Portugal having an extra two days rest before the game, Spain would tire. But I can't remember Portugal touching the ball during extra-time. The opposition just can't get the ball off them.
Their strength in depth is phenomenal too. They've got Fernando Llorente, a £30m striker, on their bench and he didn't kick a ball in the whole tournament. That's incredible. Then you've got Juan Mata, who won the Champions League with Chelsea and he only comes on for the last five minutes against Italy, and still scores. Unbelievable.
My kids play football games on the Playstation and watching Spain, they play like they're on a computer game. They just lend the ball to each other and the other team can't get close. They're massive favourites to make it four in a row at the World Cup in Brazil.
You just hope England are looking at Spain and trying to learn something. The first thing we've got to do is knock 4-4-2 on the head. People say a lot of clubs play that in the Premier League and everyone knows their positions in that formation because they're used to it. But don't underestimate the players that play for England. They are good players and could play to whatever system you want. You play 4-4-2 in lower leagues because, no disrespect, you don't want to over-complicate it - but we need a different approach in international football.