With a history making victory in the recent Euro final, the articles and opinions have already started to swirl and flood across the internet about where this Spain team stands in regards to the entire history of international football. With no European team ever snagging back-to-back Euro titles and with Spain squeezing a World Cup title in between the ’08 Euro and the ’12 Euro title, there seems to be irrefutable evidence that we may all be witnessing the greatest international spectacle since Pele’s Brazil.
The numbers never lie- and in Spain’s case, the numbers are overwhelming. The commentators and fans constantly reminded us that the 60% possession that Spain had during the majority of the Portugal was actually low for this team. Although most of the same people started a crusade against the Spain team after that game because the way that Spain played was labelled “boring,” they still continued their pass happy style until the time for penalty kicks arrived. During the Euro’s, the Spain team scored more than double the amount of goals that Portugal or Italy scored. This was all accomplished while spending the majority of the competition with no strikers on the field.
Now, this is where I throw all of those articles in the trash and start telling you exactly what we should all be doing with this Spain team.
Appreciate this squad. Stop whining about how annoying Sergio Busquets is when he hits the deck. Appreciate those slow spins that Xavi pulls off and then pops out of a group of defenders. Stop complaining about how many passes they string together. Appreciate the fact that no one can replicate this. If it was easy, then we would be seeing every single team try and beat Spain at their own game. Stop hoping for one of the Spain players to start taking shots from “Ronaldo-range” and start appreciating the fact that this team looks for the highest-percentage shot possible in order to get their goals. Sure, we all love seeing a midfielder striking the ball from 30-35 yards and it flying into the upper 90, but this team will never settle for those types of shots.
I also find the opposite of the “best” team argument hilarious. People who still choose to hate on this Spain team or chide them for the way they play are probably just angry people. If you have watched any of the past several years of international competition then there is no denying that what Spain has done and the way that they have done it is special. Even for people (like me) who have to watch some of the games several times in order to perfect an article or get some random stat that they feel will make their point, I still find myself watching most of what the Spanish team accomplishes with respect and amazement.
The back-to-back European Championship feat may never be equaled. The number of wins that Iker Casillas racks up may ascend close to the 200 mark. One thing I can assure you- there will never be another team like this. The same way that there will never be another Pele, and the same way that Messi is one of the greatest and the way that Ronaldo is one of the greatest. This things need to stand alone. Sure, the chanting of “Messi, Messi” to try and rile Ronaldo is a bit funny, but Ronaldo is an absolute powerhouse player that should have been able to shake a few of his international demons off of his back without being quickly compared to Barcelona’s Lionel. Messi is not going to take 40 yard free-kicks. Messi is only like Ronaldo in the fact that they both play the same game, and people should appreciate the amazing things that both do without having to immediately line the two men up side by side.
This Spain team may take the next World Cup. I am sure that they will be the pre-tournament favorite, but even with a victory in the World Cup, this Spain team, the one that walked off the pitch after the 2012 Final, should be respected for what they are. In two years, even if the names on the back of the jerseys are the same, it will be a different team that steps out on the pitch. This team is different than the ’08 winners. The team is different than the ’10 World Cup winning team. Stop trying to use labels that you and the most educated footballing pundits truly have no grasp on. The day that you enjoy football the most is the day you stop watching it in order to do anything but enjoy the beautiful game. Congrats Spain, and SR is hoping that you create a bar that other teams rise to so that we can see some truly fantastic international tournaments in the near future.