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    The Final: Spain v Italy

    Sam Kelly wrote:
    Originally posted by Hofzinser
    If Italy win, then, with four World Cups and 2 Euros, it will firmly ensconce them as second only to Brazil in the list of the most successful international teams of all time.
    Depends how you weight the continental titles, surely. World Cups are obviously worth more, but Brazil have eight Copas América to Argentina's 14 and Uruguay's 15 (the latter also won two Olympic titles in the pre-World Cup era). I don't think we can just assume that the second most successful nation of all time comes from Europe.

    Sorry to have replied so late but I deliberately left the computer switched off to watch the final.
    I'd say the Euro's is more difficult to win than the Copa America, there's a big drop off after the big 3 (and let's be honest, it's been a very long time since Uruguay were considered 'big' by the wider football world)

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      The Final: Spain v Italy

      That's a ludicrous thing to say. Italy were -- uncommonly for them as a football nation -- the better, more imaginative and more positive team in all of their games until tonight. They'd have murdered England, in particular, had Di Natale and not Balotelli started the game. "They did nothing against Croatia", apart from dominate the game and keep the Croatian defenders and Pletikosa very busy, including one magnificent double save.
      No no, my comment was specifically about how undistinguished the attack had been in those games, not the team.

      As i said on every Italian match day thread, Italy's major weakness was their strike force. The Germany game was the one time it matched the quality of the rest of the team.

      I found the media bandwagon that jumped all over Balotelli between Thursday and tonight most interesting. He was poor tonight, then acted like a cock at the end too. Back in character.

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        The Final: Spain v Italy

        Sam Kelly wrote:
        Originally posted by Hofzinser
        If Italy win, then, with four World Cups and 2 Euros, it will firmly ensconce them as second only to Brazil in the list of the most successful international teams of all time.
        Depends how you weight the continental titles, surely. World Cups are obviously worth more, but Brazil have eight Copas América to Argentina's 14 and Uruguay's 15 (the latter also won two Olympic titles in the pre-World Cup era). I don't think we can just assume that the second most successful nation of all time comes from Europe.

        Sorry to have replied so late but I deliberately left the computer switched off to watch the final.
        Argentina and Uruguay have far poorer records in World Cups that they didn't win, and this is reflected in the all-time table:

        http://www.planetworldcup.com/NATIONS/maraton.html

        It could be argued that Uruguay's last gasp as a big hitter prior to 2010 was in 1970 whilst Argentina's record outside their golden 1978-90 period is about the same as England's (losing QF/last 16). Obviously they have more talent than England but their style of play is not as productive as Italy and Germany's (and now Spain's) outside their home continent. I'll be surprised if Argentina goes further than Spain in 2014.

        Also note: Germany are a long way ahead of Italy, partially because when Italy won in 1934-38 they didn't have to win many games. Same with Uruguay.

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          The Final: Spain v Italy

          I'm familiar with the arguments stating the Copa América is worthless, yes. All the same, the initial point was that Italy, with two continental titles, would be 'firmly ensconced' as second only to Brazil. And I think there's at least some case to be made for Argentina and Uruguay.

          The fact that the Copa América is 'easier' is a bit false - it's only easy for those sides because they're so strong. It's fucking hard for Venezuela or Ecuador to win, for instance.

          All the same, some weighting would need to be applied if only to take into account that both Argentina and Uruguay have won more CAs than there have been Euros. I'm just saying it's not quite cut-and-dried. Still, if the statement was actually 'Italy would have become the most successful European nation who aren't Brazil,' perhaps my argument is indeed invalid. It's not what Hof said, though.

          When we're talking about success, I think of trophies won, so I'm not sure nations' records in tournaments they failed in is all that important in it really, satchmo.

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            The Final: Spain v Italy

            I don't think it's worthless, but if you are one of the big 3 in S America its easier to win the Copa America than it is to win the Euro's if you're one of top teams in Europe.

            Also I think the tendency of European football people to dismiss the CA is because European football has moved ahead of South America in recent years. We ignore the fact that for a long time S.America was equal or ahead of Europe. The last 20 years has definitely seen a shift in Europe's favour. Which I guess would tend to support your argument that the CA is unfairly dismissed by Europeans.

            Another factor is that since the World Cup expanded to 32 teams, thus making the 1st round pretty comfortable for the top sides, many people in Europe now regard the Euro's as being more difficult to win than the WC, or at least just as hard. So a win in the Euro's is seen as being almost the equivalent to a WC win.

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              The Final: Spain v Italy

              Re: Spain
              Again, They Do It The Hardest Way You Can Possibly Do It.

              Officially the Greatest European Team of All-Time. Bar None. Stop the silliness. They would've taken the Mighty Magyars out by 5 and the Kaisers and Muellers out by 2. Then their bench would still win the rematch. We're living in a Spain World Order.

              Loved dalliance's posts about their 3 magical goals, Sean of the Shed's post about them pacing themselves throughout the tournament, the posts about Portugal being the 2nd best team, and just about everyone else's posts about the game.

              In the US, to become an F license coach, you go for 4 hours a day for 2 days. E license, 4 hours a day for 4 days. D license, 4 hours a day for 2 days, then 9 hours a day for 4 days. C license, 9 hours a day for 8 days straight. B license, 9 hours a day for 11 days. A license, 9 hours a day for a month.

              In Spain, the lowest level license ? 3 years.

              After democracy took hold after Franco ? A massive sporting school infrastructure created.

              Greatest European Team of All-Time ? 4 goals past Italy. With subs who could've put another 8 in on the bench.

              Man, do I hope for a Spain-Brasil final in 2 years. Let's really see if they become the greatest team of all-time.

              Re: Casillas v Buffon
              Casillas.

              His saves in the first half and on DiNatale certainly meant that he had a say in his team's win. Buffon wasn't bad, and may have had a better tournament, but 4 goals in a final means 4 goals in a final. Buffon had the edge in the tournament, but seeing the "brave stocism in the face of a butt-whackin ass-slappin" during the medal ceremony is what will be remembered, fortunately or unfortunately.

              Re: Ferry Street
              The owner of Vino Tapas saw that the waitress wasn't going to get anything for my 4-year-old, so he walked her and her mom right to the counter and got her the biggest plate of french fries ever to go with the potato tortilla and free chocolate cookie as he apologized for it "being a little hectic." As classy as his team.

              She got a bubble gun that shoots bubbles, and we walked down the traffic with the flags waving and painted faces and all of that while shooting bubbles everywhere. It wasn't the same level as if Portugal won, but the party at Iberia Restaurant was quite huge.

              I've never laughed at someone wearing an Italian jersey ever so hard. Seeing it simply was hilarious beyond anything I could imagine. I only saw 4 of them, but it was three great laughs.

              There was a guy with a huge cardboard cutout of the King, a huge cutout of a bulls head (in other words, a real bull taxidermy head,) people using Spanish flags to bullfight cars that were rolling by, and people that started screaming when my daughter shot bubbles at them when they were sitting in an open-aired restaurant.

              I know what it means to miss New Orleans, but I also know how it feels to be down because you miss the Ironbound.

              Re: Italy
              I could've clowned them, but I respect this team a great deal. Yes, it was a "paliza y medio", yes, their asses ended up redder than the Spanish jerseys, but they simply had nothing to deal with the onslaught.

              Just as I see no way that Germany could catch up with this team, I don't see Italy catching up as well.

              Brasil and Neymar are the only ones.

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                The Final: Spain v Italy

                To lose one player to injury is unfortunate, to lose two smacks of carelessness

                Whatever about Motta, Chiellini should not have started

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                  The Final: Spain v Italy

                  Sam Kelly wrote: When we're talking about success, I think of trophies won, so I'm not sure nations' records in tournaments they failed in is all that important in it really, satchmo.
                  Yes it is important, it gives a better indication of a teams overall performance because it looks at a much larger sample size. If I want to evaluate how good a team's record is I want to examine ALL of the games they played, not a select percentage.

                  Moreover winning a tournament outright is not the only success a national team can enjoy, getting to the final, semis, knockout stages, qualifying even are all achievements in and of themselves.

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                    The Final: Spain v Italy

                    dalliance wrote:
                    I still think not going with the 3-5-2 was a mistake too, especially with the fit personnel available.
                    I think when you go with wing backs then you are putting a really heavy workload on them. The pair they used in the first game against Spain did well, but boy did they tire in the last half hour.

                    Their options were a bit limited tonight with Abate and Chiellini both a long way from full fitness. It would have been harsh to try and make them do that job in their condition.
                    That's why I talked about the deployment of fit personnel. Maggio and Balzaretti would have been the choice as wing backs.

                    Chiellini could have dropped back in to the back three or if, as seems the case, he was carrying an injury then de Rossi could have played in the centre of it again, stepping up in to midfield when possible (as he did in earlier games) with no out & out forward to mark.

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                      The Final: Spain v Italy

                      El Tel wrote: Moreover winning a tournament outright is not the only success a national team can enjoy, getting to the final, semis, knockout stages, qualifying even are all achievements in and of themselves.
                      Yes, but the point was about the very top most successful national sides of all time. Saying France have had more success than England in World Cups by virtue of having reached another final is a no-brainer; saying Italy, had they won on Sunday, would have been clearly more successful than Uruguay (also world champions on four occasions, and 15-times champions of their continent) is incredibly Euro-centric. And saying, 'ah, but Uruguay were crap in the World Cups they didn't win'* seems to be missing the point.

                      Besides, it's not as if Italy have an amazing record themselves in World Cups They Didn't Win. So I didn't think it was Hof's point, either.

                      *Or more accurately, 'Uruguay are only good in World Cups played in years ending in zero' - check their record out!

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                        The Final: Spain v Italy

                        Oh, and to ooh aah - my 'worthless' thing was to satchmo rather than to you, really. But if the wider world doesn't think of Uruguay as a force these days, then more fucking fool them. Uruguay were World Cup semi-finalists two years ago and are the current champions of the continent which includes Argentina and Brazil (two nations the wider world constantly thinks of as big powers, regardless of the reality). They've also got one of the best tacticians in international football managing them. If people elsewhere think they're not a force at present, then that really proves my point about Euro-centrism, rather than disproving it.

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                          The Final: Spain v Italy

                          Fair play, I have to hold my hands up and admit - this Spain side would definitely beat the West Germany team of the 1970s.

                          But then most of those players are in their 60s by now.

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                            The Final: Spain v Italy

                            ooh aah wrote: ... many people in Europe now regard the Euro's as being more difficult to win than the WC, or at least just as hard. So a win in the Euro's is seen as being almost the equivalent to a WC win.
                            Really? I've never heard anyone express that view. Seems crazy to me.

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                              The Final: Spain v Italy

                              Sean of the Shed wrote: Spain were pacing themselves for many of their games. They coasted past France when they could have ripped them a new one. They dominated Croatia and should have dealt with them far earlier into the match. Had they played like they did against Portugal in extra time in the semi then they would not have needed the extra time in the first place. This was why many were tiring of the way they played.
                              Maybe they did coast past France, but I strongly disagree that they had higher gears available against Croatia and Portugal. I'm sure they were 100% throughout those matches, and the relative lack of penetration in both games was more about good performances from their opponents than Spain looking to conserve energy. It would have been a profoundly dangerous thing to do in both games, as they were only a goal away from elimination in both matches.
                              Spain were profligate against the Croats, but they were also challenged and under real threat of going home until Navas 88th minute goal. After that they were two goals from elimination and so eased off, but then so did Germany in the last few minutes against Denmark. The Portugal semi was similar to the Italy group game, with a team working hard in the midfield to deny Spain space to play, and getting some chances of their own as Spain's defence is not the strongest part of their team. In both matches Spain got well on top after 60-75 minutes, but that wasn't a result of them uping their game at the death but rather their opponents had worked so hard to stop Spain previously that they were out on their feet.

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                                The Final: Spain v Italy

                                It has been expressed on a couple of threads, Furtho, and, while I am not sure, it has been given further credence in this tournament I feel. With apologies to our Irish posters, the only truly rank team has been Ireland. All the rest have produced at least one very fine performance, often against a 'bigger' team. The four semi-finalists were not only the best four teams in the tournament and all could have been a worthy winner but they are also four of the best teams in the world.

                                Obviously, the trade-off of this is that no-one has to meet Brazil or Argentina but, with neither contesting a WC final in 10 years, you do wonder how much of a challenge that now is. Having Spain in the competition now seems harder.

                                I have just had a look at the Fifa ranking and seen that Brazil are fifth and Argentina 7th actually. Someone more knowledgeable than I will be able to explain Uruguay's second place, I am sure, but England are 6th while Portugal and Italy are 10th and 12th (albeit pre-tournament) shows the ludicrous nature of these.

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                                  The Final: Spain v Italy

                                  Bored of Education wrote: Someone more knowledgeable than I will be able to explain Uruguay's second place, I am sure, but England are 6th while Portugal and Italy are 10th and 12th (albeit pre-tournament) shows the ludicrous nature of these.
                                  I think Sam has already explained Uruguay's position at the top of this page. 2nd is roughly where one would expect a team that reached the Semi-Finals of the most recent World Cup and then subsequently won the South American championships to be ranked.

                                  It's done on results rather than opinions of performances though, isn't it? Which is probably the only realistic way to do it, as anything else is going to be too subjective.
                                  As such, the England/Portugal/Italy rankings are not going to shift much after this event. England had two wins and two draws, Portugal three wins, a draw and a defeat, Italy two wins, three draws and a defeat. So Portugal - 10 points, Italy - 9, England - 8.

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                                    The Final: Spain v Italy

                                    It has been expressed on a couple of threads, Furtho, and, while I am not sure, it has been given further credence in this tournament I feel. With apologies to our Irish posters, the only truly rank team has been Ireland. All the rest have produced at least one very fine performance, often against a 'bigger' team. The four semi-finalists were not only the best four teams in the tournament and all could have been a worthy winner but they are also four of the best teams in the world.
                                    I must admit that I have to disagree that Ireland were the only rank team and everyone else produced at least one very fine performance.

                                    The Dutch didn't. The Danes were not a bad team but didn't play well much. England too. The whole of Group A was very poor. France barely kicked a ball all tournament. Ukraine were a bit feeble, especially mentally.

                                    I think it's quicker to say which were the good teams in the tournament and you might struggle to get past the semi-finalists and croatia.

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                                      The Final: Spain v Italy

                                      I've worked out Spain's tactical plan. Spend almost the entire tournament as Verbal Kint, only revealing yourself actually to be Keyser Söze in the final reel.

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                                        The Final: Spain v Italy

                                        As i said on every Italian match day thread, Italy's major weakness was their strike force. The Germany game was the one time it matched the quality of the rest of the team.

                                        I found the media bandwagon that jumped all over Balotelli between Thursday and tonight most interesting. He was poor tonight, then acted like a cock at the end too. Back in character.


                                        I was a bit puzzled by this too. He got on the end of a great move, and he powered from the halfway line and smashed one in past the keeper. and while scoring goals is a very big part of a forward's job, mario didn't do much in the tournament to suggest that he was capable of reliably doing anything else.

                                        There is no wit or guile to his game, nor is there any consistency. It's one thing to be able to score three spectacular goals. It's another to supply your midfield with a regular out ball, and to be able to bring your teammates into play.

                                        I suppose it ultimately comes back to the idea underpinning the spanish team. The reason that they look so special is that they are all working as hard as possible to make the person on the ball look good. This of course means that they have the ball, all of their teammates are working like demons to make him look brilliant, so they can hang onto the ball forever, and everyone looks like a genius.

                                        I suppose an example close to home for Mario would have to be sergio aguero. Aside from a being soft footed goalscoring wizard, Sergio aguero spends his time for man city hunting for space, making himself always available for a pass, always looking for the quick return. He's a mixture of speed, clever movement, deft control and a fuckmountain of hard work. He has a very clear idea in his head of all of the jobs he's supposed to do as a centre forward, and like all great players, he assiduously goes through them all.

                                        Which is why I always think mancini is insane when he goes on about ballotelli possibly being one of the best players in the world. I mean I can see what he's getting at, but unless he figures out a way to put sergio aguero's brain in ballotelli's empty head it's not going to happen.

                                        That was a pretty astonishing display by spain last night, and showed how damaging they can be if they take a couple of more risks.

                                        I think ultimately it boils down to this. Most international teams are rubbish. They meet for a very short time, and consequently have no cohesion, no partnerships and no sense of how to play collectively with the ball, and frequently only have the most rudimentary grasp of how to play without it.

                                        The England method of getting 8 men behind the ball and hoping for a moment of brilliance, isn't exactly sophisticated. However it passes for genius in the current climate. International football belongs to those players who are instinctively good at linking up with others. This helps to bridge the gap between international and club teams, and helps explain why some teams are better than others.

                                        It certainly explains why italy got to where they did. Andrea pirlo made everyone look like a pass and move genius. Even the germans and the portuguese were on a different level to all of the other teams when it came to their players linking up. It was good enough to get them to the semis, but there were two better teams waiting for them.

                                        In the midst of this you have a spanish team that has at it's core 5 or 6 of the best passing team on the planet. And because of their massive investment in youth development over the last god knows how long, the rest of their squad is filled with technically excellent players, who have spent their childhood being drilled in good technique, tactical awareness, and crucially to always be thinking about combining with other players.

                                        This gives spain an enormous advantage over everyone else. Even if the spanish players were to have met for the first time before this tournament, their individual ability to link up with other players would mean that they would have still had more cohesion, and kept the ball better than any other team in the tournament.

                                        As it stands, they can play pretty much any formation they want and still be miles better than everyone else. They played narrow, and without a centre forward, and they were still comfortably 2-0 up throughout the meaningful part of the game.

                                        I must say though, I am rather amazed that a defence that has frequently featured casillas, ramos, pique, and arbeloa etc has managed to keep 10 clean sheets in 10 knockout games over the last three tournaments. The teams they play for usually leak one goal somewhere along the line, and they keep fewer clean sheets than you'd think. However when they play for spain, the opposition doesn't have a hope in hell of scoring.

                                        Actually, the only hope they have of scoring is if sergio ramos concedes a penalty in an entirely unnecessary and pointless way. There was a moment last night when he Jumped to head away a dangerous cross, which was good defending on his part. He also stuck his hand in the face of the forward he had just easily beaten, which was bad defending on his part, because he simply shouldn't have done it, and could easily have given away a penalty.

                                        But that literally is the only hope anyone has of scoring against them.

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                                          The Final: Spain v Italy

                                          Spain = very good, without a doubt.

                                          Their securing of three successive trophies is a remarkable (and unarguably unique) achievement, but it does 'not' make them the greatest-ever. Everyone else is, at present, fundamentally flawed and lacking in the mental strength that Spain clearly have to complement their possession football.

                                          It's still Brazil '70 for me.

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                                            The Final: Spain v Italy

                                            Re- scoring against Spain.

                                            If I recall correctly Scotland gave them a very decent game at Hampden in the qualifiers. From memory didn't Spain go two-nil up and Scotland scored two to make it 2-2 before Spain got the winner - or am I mistaken?

                                            Anyways I think Italy were still in the game at 2-0 - the possession was fairly even and they were creating some decent chances - Di Natale fluffed two excellent opportunities. Spain were also losing the ball in midfield far more often than in any other game of theirs in the Euros.

                                            Had it gone to 2-1 some nerves might have been observed on the Spanish side - Italy have historically been one of their 'bogey teams'.

                                            But yes Spain are a great side and probably would still have won whatever but Motta's unfortunate injury killed it completely as sporting contest.

                                            Balotelli is decent in terms of raw ability but has very many flaws in his game which were all too obvious last night. Why he is rated at £200 million is beyond me.

                                            I think it's the Premiership hype machine in full swing.

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                                              The Final: Spain v Italy

                                              Beltrano Carpinteiro wrote: I've worked out Spain's tactical plan. Spend almost the entire tournament as Verbal Kint, only revealing yourself actually to be Keyser Söze in the final reel.
                                              Heh. Very good.

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                                                The Final: Spain v Italy

                                                saying Italy, had they won on Sunday, would have been clearly more successful than Uruguay (also world champions on four occasions, and 15-times champions of their continent) is incredibly Euro-centric.
                                                Uruguay have only won the World Cup twice. I qualified my original post by saying that "prior to 2010", Uruguay's last significant World Cup was 1970. I don't dispute their current 2nd place (I believe they would give a tough game to anyone except Spain, so fair enough) but it comes after 40 years of being below the top flight.

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                                                  The Final: Spain v Italy

                                                  Again it's worth pointing out how well this Spanish side pace every game. They don't go out and run themselves into the ground to win every game by four goals, what's the point if they know they might tire themselves out for the next game which might be harder.

                                                  They set the dial to the minimum they think they need to beat different opponents. This is an art and a necessary one when their players are playing so much football at club and national level. Iniesta had a great tournament and looked very fresh, this was a real surprise to me because he had looked so jaded in the last few months of the club season. He simply managed his effort cleverly so he had plenty still left in the engine for the harder games.

                                                  This pacing is also borne out in this remarkable record they have in not having conceded a goal in their last knock out stage 10 games. In this same period they have played 9 group stage games and conceded 6 goals. This is the exact opposite way round for most teams who would expect to concede more at the sharp end of the competition against the good teams rather than the gentle stage. It just shows that Spain aren't trying overly hard at the beginning of the tournament.

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                                                    The Final: Spain v Italy

                                                    They set the dial to the minimum they think they need to beat different opponents. This is an art and a necessary one when their players are playing so much football at club and national level.

                                                    Absolutely. Dial it too low and the airplane can "stall out." It's aeronautics what Spain has done.

                                                    I think ultimately it boils down to this. Most international teams are rubbish. They meet for a very short time, and consequently have no cohesion, no partnerships and no sense of how to play collectively with the ball, and frequently only have the most rudimentary grasp of how to play without it.

                                                    Good points, TAB. Especially about the youth structure.

                                                    I've worked out Spain's tactical plan. Spend almost the entire tournament as Verbal Kint, only revealing yourself actually to be Keyser Söze in the final reel.

                                                    HILARIOUS.

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