LONDON - What a wonderful climax to a wonder tournament.
Spain produced a performance that was full of finesse and class, capped by their dismantling of the Italians in a lopsided final that put an exclamation point on a dominant showing from the Spaniards over the past 24 days. It was the kind of show that the rest of the world and not only Europe can only dream about giving.When we talk about this extremely talented group of guys we tend to talk about their quality with the ball but there two other aspects of their game which intrigue me:
- When out of possession the Spaniards have a work ethic that is second to none. In most sides packed full of superstars you can often find a prima donna but not with this group of guys. Each and every one of them is prepared to work. They lose the ball, they work all that much harder to get it back. That’s the mark of a great team;
- The majority of this squad is from the two Spanish giants, Real Madrid and Barcelona, two sides which have a rivalry unmatched in modern team sport. When they come together as one, however, you would think the players came from the same family, and not two intense competitors. The Spaniards don’t fight amongst each other; they fight and give their all for each other. Not many teams in international sport can boast that side of the game.
A great deal of credit has to be attributed to the coach Vicente Del Bosque and his staff for the way he allows the players to express themselves to the full. The host nations can also take lots of plaudits for the way the tournament has been run. I didn't have the pleasure of being in Poland or the Ukraine but it would appear that it was a huge success in both countries. The stadiums looked superb, always full with wonderful atmospheres and just as importantly for the players, the playing surfaces looked top draw.
[Martin Rogers: Spain joins all-time greatest soccer debate]
I cannot sign off without expressing my huge disappointment that Mr. Platini and his UEFA delegates have decided to add eight more teams to the next tournament in four years’ time. This has been one of the finest tournaments I have witnessed with the right amount of teams. Right from the tournament opener there have been great encounters. . . no dragging out mindless encounters, just straight to the action. You guys probably have a very similar saying: if it's not broken why fix it.
It's been a great Euro tournament – and it's been a pleasure to put fingers to keyboard for you. Until next time, Ray.