No Draws This Time: Italy vs. Spain

Anyone else deserve this picture?

The Euro Final. Live shortly.

Best player on the line…

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14 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Spiritof76 on 2012/07/01 at 10:58 AM

    Can’t believe so many commentators are giving the advantage to Italy. Really looking forward to the match though.

    If you don’t like Xavi, you don’t have to read this, but I am a fan and want to defend his performance this tournament after TSG tweeted that he was “docile.” I think we all agree that neither Spain nor Xavi have played anywhere near their best this tournament, except maybe the 2nd half against Ireland when they were more relaxed. BUT, Xavi has completed more passes than anyone (455) (booooring right?). That always happens, but he has completed 100+ more than the nearest non-Spaniard (Pirlo). Pirlo’s completion rate is 77% compared to Xavi’s 85%. Xavi has more shots on target (6) than Pirlo (5) and as many shots on target as Torres, Fabergas, and Silva. But Xavi is called “docile” and Pirlo is called “brilliant” (and rightfully so!)

    I also appreciated how Xavi allowed Xabi Alonso, another incredible player, to really step up and take the reigns against France. A great sign for the prospects of post-Xavi Spanish success.

    Anyway, I think we’re very lucky to be living in a time when we have such a great team with such great players as Spain. The fact that we’re so used to them crushing everybody else in every statistic speaks to their strength. Thats why I find the “boring boring Spain” criticism so silly.

    Reply

  2. Posted by dth on 2012/07/01 at 11:43 AM

    Pretty remarkable that Italy have not won the Euros since 1968. Forty-four years of hurt, I’m sure.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Nelsonaoatl on 2012/07/01 at 11:53 AM

    what are the odds Ramos and Ballotelli fight?

    Reply

  4. Posted by Zack G. on 2012/07/01 at 2:51 PM

    So, who wins Golden Ball here?

    I reckon it’s going to Iniesta — he seems to be the safe pick that most are lobbying for. Truthfully, though, I think Fabregas and Casillas (as much as I would disagree with awarding it to Iker just because of the clean sheets) have decent cases.

    I’m going to make the argument that maybe Xabi Alonso is a deserving candidate. I felt he was spectacular in every match. Spain won this tournament by being solid and incisive at the back, dominant in possession, and clinical in the attacking third. He represents all of those things pretty well, no?

    Reply

    • Posted by Bode on 2012/07/01 at 3:58 PM

      If the Golden Ball winner has to come from the winning team, Iniesta is the choice. Spain is difficult because, for them, the team is more important than the individual. It’s too difficult to put their success down to one player– choosing Iniesta over Xavi (or Xabi), or even good performers like Jordi Alba, seems unfair.

      For me, the “standout” player of the tournament was Mesut Ozil. He was at the heart of everything one of the better teams of the tournament did. In the Italy game, I thought he was clearly the best player on the field. The way this tournament went makes it very difficult to choose one “best” player. Passing, movement, and interchanging necessarily dictates that the collective group, rather than an individual, is the star.

      Reply

  5. Posted by EFG on 2012/07/01 at 4:35 PM

    I’m glad the Spain team that everyone wanted to see showed up for the final. It was refreshing to see them use their possession and passing to win and not to lose. They were worthy champions today and it was just a bit too far for Italy.

    (Also was the only of the previewers to pick Spain to win it all, so hooray for me.)

    Reply

  6. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/07/02 at 6:24 AM

    Will there be any more foolish “Spain are boring” comments?

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    • Posted by Damon on 2012/07/02 at 7:36 AM

      Spain can choose to use all that possession to tear apart a defense like they did yesterday. They can also choose to use all that possession to basically play a 4 corners offense which is tremendously dull. In basketball they tried to fix this issue by making it so that once you cross the center line you can’t go back over. I do wonder if Spain’s style could end up with a modified “shot clock” where after a significant amount of possession you are no longer allowed to pass the ball back into the defensive zone.

      Reply

      • Posted by KickinNames.. on 2012/07/02 at 8:23 AM

        Acutally, as a neutral, the difference in their passing style usually has more to do with how the opposing team chooses to play. Bunkering requires much more disciplined, accurate and tactical possession to draw out and find the mini-gaps to exploit. And still they succeeded. So as as even high quality teams stopped playing against them (see Netherlands WC 2010) they were forced to a higher possession to shot ratio.
        Italy, uncharacteristically and to their credit, chose to come out and play and Spain showed just how incredibly talented, skilled and deadly they are against anyone who chooses to play straight up football against them.
        So to use your basketball analogy, the appropriate rule change would be to penalize teams for playing “zone” and bunkering vs penalizing the possessing team with a “shot clock”.

        Reply

        • Posted by Spiritof76 on 2012/07/02 at 11:46 AM

          Ha! I like the punishment for bunkering…

          Penalty: 3 minutes with 11 players in the lane (defensive half)

          Punishment: 1 defensive player has to stay in the offensive zone for 2 minutes (a la hockey)

          After 5 violations, Xabi Alonso gets two free kicks from the penalty spot in front of Iker Casillas’ goal. (a la free throws in basketball)

          After 10 violations, Spain gets a penalty kick.

          After 20 violations, we can tell Spain is dominating you, so we’ll give you a penalty kick as well to try and get back in the game.

          Reply

          • So you want to turn soccer into softball and hockey.

            Would all your rules apply when Spain is not involved?

            How many officials would you need to monitor all these new rules?

            Reply

        • Posted by Damon on 2012/07/02 at 11:48 AM

          To me its not really the shot clock that would be the bigger change- it would be rewarding good defense by giving the team less area to retreat into and I can’t imagine there is anyone who would argue about the benefit that this rule brought to basketball. Lacrosse has a similar anti-stalling mechanism where at the end of the half once an attacking team puts the ball into the attacking area it must keep it there.

          I think that the lacrosse alternative would be that a team has to keep 3 players in the attacking half of hte field at all times would be far too disruptive of the roots of soccer.

          The 4 corners offense in large part was trying to force the defense to stop bunkering and guard more floor. We shall see to what extreme spain and the imitators will take this style of offense to but its certainly not beyond my imagination to see it going to an extreme point just as some teams took the 4 corners offense to an extreme.

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          • Posted by schmutzdeck on 2012/07/04 at 10:54 AM

            Why do you want to change the rules and the basic character of the game for one team that may not be around forever and has no successful imitators?

            Can you name me a team that, right now plays to the same style as Barca/Spain to the extent that it causes the same issues?

            Spain is something of a one off, not easily replicated. It remains to be seen if they can replicate themselves once this core has reached their expiration date.

            Reply

            • Posted by Damon on 2012/07/05 at 8:27 AM

              I’m not advocating for that rule change to be put in place now. I just do wonder if this is the natural evolution of soccer once teams see how effective it can be. Sports is absolutely all about copycat and while teams currently may not be set up to use this style, it is certainly possible that if this trend continues that soccer could become very tedious. Just as basketball became tedious with the 4 corners offense. Just as Hockey became tedious with the neutral zone trap. I don’t think that soccer is at the point where the rules do need to be changed, but it always starts with one team gaining an advantage and then the copycats are what makes the game bog down.

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