La Furia Roja vs. Gli Azzurri: Who’s ready for the final?
We have had a truly magnificent Euro 2012. Somehow, the stars aligned in Poland and Ukraine and we had a tournament filled with goals, tactics, and some of the the best football to be found, anywhere. But two nations are into the final, and rightfully so. Pirlo and Balotelli have made Italians proud of their national team once again. For Xavi, Iniesta, Iker, and the rest of the Spaniards, it’s essentially been business as usual. Tiki taka will be the main force at the final, but Italy will do everything in their power to avoid defeat against the Spanish for the second time in the tournament.
The past doesn’t count. Everything is starting again. Spain’s continues to strengthen.
With a friendly against England at Wembley on Saturday and the EUROs on the horizon, the time has come for Spain to refresh, and forget everything. Everything won. Everything created.
Iker: “No one came to welcome us” Silva: “We didn’t create a new way of playing football” Xabi: “We weren’t admired by the whole world” Iker: “We didn’t take a whole country to the streets” Villa: “I wasn’t the top scorer” Llorente: “We couldn’t bear the pressure” Del Bosque: “We didn’t change the conception of football” Xavi: “I wasn’t the best football player in the Euro 2008” Llorente: “We are not a team” Xavi: “We are not European Champions” Villa: “We are not World Champions”
The shirt is new, the meaning of wearing it remains the same. Always.
Vicente del Bosque is one of the finest footballing minds to have passed through the Santiago Bernabeu, winning 2 Champions League titles, 2 La Liga titles, 2 Spanish Supercopas, 1 UEFA Supercup, and an Intercontinental Cup during his final stint at Real. During his professional career, the man from Salamanca made 312 appearances for the club, actually playing under Miguel Muñoz during his first few years in the early 1970s. Though he was the collateral damage in one of the club’s most controversial sackings in its history, del Bosque is a Madridista at heart.
Despite this fact, the Spanish national team under VdB currently resembles Real Madrid like a Picasso painting resembles a pint of Guinness. Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Alvaro Arbeloa, Xabi Alonso, and Raul Albiol are all popular, longstanding figures in the Spanish national team set up, but those five in no way form the team’s identity.
As time passes, the experience of watching an FC Barcelona match and a Spain match is more and more indistinguishable. For the most part, the players are responsible for this trend. Without players like Xavi, Iniesta, Puyol, Piqué, Sergio Busquets, and David Villa on the pitch, you are not watching the essence of Spain. Though neither party may want to admit it, Spain is the superclub from Catalunya and with the next generation of talent (namely Cesc Fàbregas, Pedro, Thiago and now Montoya) surging through the blaugrana ranks, this regional-national cohesion of hubris will not fade anytime soon.
But beyond the talent, beyond the individuals, there is the mentality. Vicente del Bosque has been steadfast during his tenure as national team manager, but his approach has been reinforced by one of the greatest managers modern football has seen. José Mourinho easily enters the conversation when talking about modern greats, but Vicente del Bosque has not mimicked Mourinhoism by any stretch of the imagination. Instead, the progressive mind and insatiable desire of Pep Guardiola has been (and will continue to be) at the core of Spain’s success.”
Last week, we travelled to the Basque Country, Andalucia, and Valencia to take a look at how La Liga teams from those regions are looking ahead to the new season. In this part we will go through the two big cities of the country and also some of the other regions of the lovely country of España.