UEFA Euro 2012: Spain - A win away from incredible treble

Written by: Warren D'souza

Having overcome the nerve-racking penalty shoot-out in their semi-final encounter with Portugal, defending champions Spain are now just a win away from being the only team to retain the UEFA European Championships.

Four years ago, Spain, under coach Luis Aragones, beat Germany 1-0 to be crowned champions of Europe after a long wait of 44 years. It took only a single goal from Fernando Torres to mark the beginning of the Spanish domination.

La Furia Roja - History in the making

An evolution of world-class players emerged together to be crowned World Champions two years ago in South Africa. Current Spanish coach Vicente Del Bosque led the team to their second consecutive major final tournaments which only the French managed to win a decade ago.

Having qualified for the Euro 2012 final, Spain are just a win away to be the only team to retain the European Championships. But that task is easier said than done against the charged up Italians.

Spain have been criticised for various reasons during the tournament, boring football, inability to score goals, playing a 'false No. 9'. However, Spain have lacked the spark and potency which they showed during the FIFA World Cup in 2010. It could be that they are missing their all-time scorer David Villa or the 'puppet master' Xavi Hernandez may be tired after an exhausting season with Barcelona.

Apart from this, Spain are missing a key figure in the back-line. Defender Carles Puyol's inspiration and leadership qualities are missing in Spain's Euro 2012 campaign. That job has been dropped to Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique, who have been good so far but look nervy at times.

The false number nine was a more surprising decision by Del Bosque, who wants to stick to the 'tiki-taka' philosophy practised mainly by the Catalans and Spain. A midfielder in the role of a striker is definitely to control possession but Spain have suffered by overdoing the same.

A side packed with stars and rising talents have certainly made a point in the tournament, but not without criticisms and backlash from the media and pundits around the world.

However, the Spaniards are not going to change their style which saw them under pressure from booing fans at the Donbass Arena on Thursday night. They lost possession rather cheaply compared to their opening game against Italy and were likely to be the first team to concede given the presence of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Del Bosque's tactics also back-fired against underdogs Croatia. Spain waited till the death through Jesus Navas. But had it not been for 'Saint' Iker Casillas' brilliant saves, the Spaniards would be sent packing back home.

It can be called good luck or hard work for the Spanish as everything is going their way. Coming Sunday at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev, Europe will witness the unthinkable if Spain manage to retain the title and conquer the football-mad continent.

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