What The Papers Say About Spain's Win

Hail the history makers, this is Spain's era. It began with a win over Italy four years ago, and this phase at least ended similarly. The gents of the press on Spain's win...

Last Updated: 02/07/12 at 08:33 Post Comment

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'Hail the history makers. Hail the most successful international football team the world has ever seen - but laud them for much more than just the haul of trophies. This is not just Spain's era in the record books. This is the age of La Roja not just in minds but in hearts, too, as this gloriously gifted generations of players once again taught the world how to play.

'To win three leading tournaments in a row is historic; a feat not accomplished by any of the great Brazil teams, though the Ronaldo vintage came mightily close before Il Fenomeno's meltdown in 1998. Franz Beckenbauer's West Germany were only one shoot-out from the first Euros-World Cup-Euros treble until Antonin Panenka, of Czechoslovakia, famously deprived them in 1976.

'So in football's first tournament in Eastern Europe, we were watching another frontier opened up. True to their principles, Spain's conquistadors charmed their way into history' - Matt Dickinson in The Times.

'This will forever be recalled as Spain's era, unrivalled by any team. Forty-four years it took them to win a major tournament. In four years they have won two more. No other team have retained this trophy and yet at times it felt as if winning this tournament was an obligation; winning it well was an obligation, too. Spain fulfilled both brilliantly. Fernando Torres scored in this final just as he scored against Germany in 2008. It was Spain's third and it gave him the tournament's Golden Boot. Juan Mata came on for his first minutes of the tournament. He scored with his first touch - 12 goals scored, one conceded.

'Spain's era began with a penalty shoot- out against Italy in 2008. It was only the quarter-final but the Spanish had finally broken a barrier that had stood before them for 24 years, one that had seemed insuperable. Spain feared Italy, the team that many liked to portray as everything Spain were not: dirty, cynical, boring ... successful. Even Torres later said of the quarter-final: "That was the night that we won the European Championship." - Sid Lowe in The Guardian.

'This was also history in the making. Spain made it an unprecedented three trophies in a row, playing with a panache that allows these footballing fireflies in red to stand legitimate comparison with those great 1970 Brazilian artists called Pele, Jairzinho, Tostao, Rivelinho and Gerson.

'Ill-judged comparisons are made far too frequently in the modern era, but this generation of Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Xavi and Andres Iniesta, the four who started all three finals at Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup and here at Euro 2012, deserves such a substantial accolade as association with Pele's kings.

'Casillas was all authority and some vital interceptions. Jordi Alba was all shimmering class at left-back, defending and raiding in equal measure. Xabi Alonso, in the middle, kept the moves ticking over, kept sweeping passes over short range and long.

'Cesc Fabregas delivered one of his most influential displays, his movement soon a mystery to the Italian defence. The 'false No 9' with No 10 on his back made Spain's first goal for David Silva, Alba struck a sumptuous second before Fernando Torres and Juan Mata arrived like matadors to finish off wounded foe' - Henry Winter in The Daily Telegraph.

'One theory coming in here was that the Spanish game, so unanswerable in that first eruption four years ago and preserved in the World Cup by the superb finishing of David Villa, had turned in on itself. It had become passing almost for its own sake, a vanity unsupported by the hard edge of a true finisher with the injury to Villa and the decline of Fernando Torres.

'Spain believed they were so good that they could do without an orthodox striker, and they could throw in the former creator in chief at Arsenal, Cesc Fabregas. It may have smacked of sacrilege when coach Vicente del Bosque made the announcement but last night the sceptical were thrust into the same kind of retreat imposed on the Azzurri.

'Fabregas played beautifully to set up Silva's 14th-minute headed goal after receiving a pass from Iniesta that was just about guaranteed to tear the heart out of any defence. Fabregas quite effortlessly went by Giorgio Chiellini , who would soon disappear with a combination of injury and maybe a touch of despair, before turning in the cross for Silva.

'Just to underline the point, Spain stepped more closely to their place in history with a second goal, from their left-back Alba, close to half-time. Alba, though, is only a defender in the most fleeting way. His purpose is to spread devastation along the left flank and here he did it quite perfectly, producing withering speed, a quick pass to Xavi and then returning on to the return ball to score with a certainty that landed cruelly on Italian spirit' - James Lawton in The Independent.

'We have even seen arguments, strong ones, over whether Spain really are a thing of beauty - as they doubtless were in 2008, when David Villa and Fernando Torres gave them a cutting edge - or a pretty form of footballing chloroform.

'Arsene Wenger, a man who knows more about the essence of the game than most, will doubtless refine his criticism now after describing Vicente Del Bosque's team as having "betrayed their philosophy and turned it into something more negative".

'Wenger, for once, was wrong, certainly when Spain turn it on like they did last night, remembering that football is, in the end, about scoring more goals than your opponents, creating more chances, getting the fans off their feet - because the fans remain the lifeblood of the game' - Martin Lipton in The Daily Mirror.

'Certainly Roy Hodgson will have watched this and realised the scale of his task ahead. He might have enjoyed the spectacle but will he really relish trying to topple the finest international side of a generation, possibly of all time? Yes he can continue to spin the positives that England did not lose a match during Euro 2012 - only a penalty shootout.

'That we will improve the more he works with the players and the more he evolves the team into a younger, more technical, flexible outfit. All of it true. But the bigger truth is that, right now, Spain are unassailable. And the depressing thing for England, and every other nation, is that there is no sign of that changing any time soon.

'They have been on top for more than four years and are as hungry and eager as ever. Last night's win over Italy sealed a record third successive major international trophy following their 2008 European crown and 2010 World Cup. And they became the first nation to successfully defend the trophy in the competition's 52-year history. Best in the world? You better believe it!' - Rob Beasley in The Sun.

'Prandelli's Italy leave this tournament with heads held high and few regrets. The Azzurri proved to themselves - and to the world - that they could be successful not just through tactical rigor, mental strength, defensive prowess and ruthless finishing, their weapons of the past, but also through collective creativity, risk-taking and attacking exuberance.

'When Prandelli took over as coach of the national side, he said: "I have one main objective. I want to make Italy fall in love once again with the Azzurri." History will record this as Italy's heaviest defeat in a competitive tournament, surpassing the 1970 World Cup final, when they lost to Pelé's Brazil, 4-1. But Prandelli can at least be proud. He achieved his goal' - Gab Marcotti in The Times.

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