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7 days to Euro 2012: Spain are perennial underachievers no more

After a quarter century of early exits, tiki-taka brought Spain their first European title in 44 years.

Captain Iker Casillas with his Spanish team-mates.
Captain Iker Casillas with his Spanish team-mates.
Image: Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sport

SINCE WINNING THE European Nations’ Cup on home soil in 1964, Spain had never got past the quarter-final stage in a major tournament of any kind.

Despite producing  some of the world’s most technically-gifted players down through the years, their sides generally flattered during qualifying before failing to deliver when it mattered most on the big stage.

At Euro 2008, however, La Roja began in terrific style – seeing off a competent Russian outfit 4-1 thanks largely to David Villa’s hat-trick.

In Barcelona pair Xavi and Iniesta, manager Luis Aragones had two players who possessed the ability to control the tempo and direction of the game with their ‘tiki-taka’ style of play.

A penalty shootout win over Italy saw them break that unwanted curse to line up a replay of the opening fixture in the semi-finals. And Xavi, Danny Guiza and David Silva were all on the scoresheet as Spain saw off Guus Hiddink’s team by the same goal margin.

The Germans, who had come through an exhilarating semi-final with Turkey,  proved worthy opponents in Vienna but Fernando Torres’ expertly-lifted finish over Jens Lehmann on 33 minutes was enough to reacquaint the Iberians with the Henri Delauney trophy (albeit an updated version) for the first time in 44 years.

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About the author:

Ben Blake

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