The beautiful game

Spain 4 - 0 Italy - Euro 2012 Final, Olympic Stadium, Kiev, Ukraine - July 1st, 2012

returns in time.

As I posted the other day I fancied Italy to do something in the Euros, in a way I’m glad they didn’t go on to win it and not just because I didn’t have the courage to back ’em.

Well for one the return of the Spanish lifting their game to play in a way they hadn’t done previously in the tournament meant for the most part the final was a pretty decent game. And secondly it doesn’t give England that get out clause.

It’s happened so many times before, England are atrocious, scrape out the group and then go out on penalties or due to some officiating foul up and it gives the deniers a crutch to prop up the failure. If Italy had won then beating Spain and Germany would have lead to more of the tripe I’ve heard and read over recent days.

England are not one Pirlo away from competing.

That was the drivel from Des Lynam, poor old dear is showing his age and ravages of years spent sitting next to the likes of Andy Townsend, Alan Hansen and the like. The missing link Martin Keown was talking before the game against Spain about how Italy were really inept at the last World Cup but were here in the final while the Dutch were major flops in this tournament after getting to the last World Cup final. And with that logic how we could look forward to England in the next final in Brazil.

If Italy had won it would have been worse. And if Roy sticks with this lot, which it sounds like he may do, it could get worse.

Funnily reading Lynam he made one point about Swansea coming up into the premier League and playing a passing, possession game and doing quite well in the process. But were any of their players mentioned as even possibles for the squad? By ether the manager or indeed the media. No, of course not, Britton, Dyer, Sinclair all English but they don’t have the names and after all they’re all pretty small, we want big burly huff and puff merchants. Call for Gerrard.

Yes I wanted Roy to bin the old guard and go for youth but wouldn’t have minded Leon Britton being called up even though he’s 29 going on 30. But one passer, the Pirlo, wouldn’t make a difference, you need slightly more than one and you also need individuals who can receive the ball without their second touch being a tackle.

That’s all well and good but can he run from one box to the other?

Anyway enough about the failures of England. Spain versus Italy. The criticism Spain have been on the end of has been justified to a point – though not from ARSEne Whinger as if any team just prannies about with the ball it’s his lot – their play has been somewhat boring in this tournament, somewhat lacklustre in it’s precision but what hasn’t helped them has been the opposition. For that you can thank Switzerland, England and Chelsea. The former two beat Spain the latter Barcelona playing much the same game of making it a boring spectacle. Suffocate the game and hope to nick it.

That makes for a boring game and in turn makes Spain boring. Italy didn’t do that, even though it’s such an Italian thing to do. Cesare Prandelli wanted to change the mindset, to reconnect the fans with a team that did fail at the last World Cup and who have been touched by the latest scandal in their domestic game.

So we got an open game which unfortunately for Italy let Spain show off their full range.

A full range which itself involves plenty of smothering the opposition as Pirlo was nullified bar his set pieces, as were Cassano and Balotelli who found themselves doubled up, tripled up or quadrupled up when ever in possession. Din’t half frustrate the Citeh striker.

But while they played their best stuff of the tournament in the first half Italy had more of the ball and Casillas seemed to have more to do than Buffon but during the 45 minutes the big Italian captain had to pick the ball out of his net twice. David Silva who was in reality a weak link in the Spanish outfit, bizarrely with two goals and three assists and Jordi Alba who thankfully should have stopped this ridiculous rumour of Ashley Cole being the best left-back in the world.

Second half was cruel with Motta going off soon after he came on as Italy’s third substitution, they had chances but as soon as they were down to ten it was all over as a contest. Only time for Torres to get his third of the tournament, nip in with an assist and nick the Golden Boot off Germany’s Gomez due to being on the pitch for less time.

Greatest team ever? Got to be hyperbole. Yes they’ve done something no other side has done, retaining the Euro Championship and in the process winning three major tournaments in a row, of course there are certain sides that can’t do this. Are they better than Brazil in 70, the Dutch side of that decade or the Hungarians of the 50s?

All we know is if England had made the final, it would have been an embarrassment and very boring.

Oh and by the way Sol “Judas, media darling” Campbell, how many fans came back in coffins?

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