Spain stultified at times during Euro 2012 but also stimulated spectators with their football when they defeated Italy 4-0 in the final. Not only did Vicente del Bosque's team reaffirm their continental superiority, they confirmed their status as arguably international football's best ever side.
Rarely did La Roja look in danger of losing a football match. Even after they went behind to the Italians in their opening group match they replied swiftly, while their remaining five matches were either controlled displays or walkovers. They ended up scoring 12 goals from six games.
Euro 2012 as a tournament was an ambivalent spectacle. The cutthroat nature of the group stage was exciting and laden with goals but beyond the 24 matches the quality was stymied by some tentative football. Playing without a striker became in-vogue.
Two 120-minute 0-0s at least rewarded their audience with penalties but then Germany, viewed as the biggest threat to Spain, uncharacteristically choked in the last four against a Mario Balotelli-inspired Italy. They will have to wait another two years to beat the Azzurri at a major tournament.
The continent was subsequently deprived of the final everyone wanted. So good were Italy in the semis the final contest was a fait accompli before a ball was kicked, for they had committed that tournament sin of peaking too early. Spain hadn't, and duly thumped them in the final as Cesare Prandelli's ballsy 4-4-2 was exposed with ease.
Away from the football, racism threatened to smear the games after some early incidents but Panorama's pre-tournament scaremongering ended up being lampooned by happy tourists.
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