El Mayor – the greatest

by Craig Beach

Spain are the greatest team I have ever seen kick a football.

They waltzed their way to victory in the European Championship Final with an iconic performance and were crowned the champions of Europe in emphatic style. I can’t help but think this 4-0 demolition of the spirited Italians was the response from this record breaking group of players and coaches after being criticised by many as being anti-football and ‘boring’.

Let me tell you why they are certainly not boring and why I believe they are greatest team I have ever have seen. Not because their victory last weekend was the highest win margin ever recorded in a World Cup or European Championship final. Not because they are the only international team to ever win three successive major tournaments. Not because they are unbeaten in their last 12 European championship matches (a record). Not even because they have not conceded a goal in their last five European Championship matches, another competition record. The reason I believe they are the best is because they have a philosophy, an ideology, a dogma, an ingrained system and belief in pure, unadulterated, simple football. The way they move  the ball from goalkeeper to striker ( or the shadow no. 9) in their trademark Tikki-Taka style is nothing far from perfect.

It doesn’t take a genius to work that out. It’s hard not to get suckered in to their play as the Spanish fans cheer ole for every completed pass, as do the opposition  who are forced to chase shadows at best. The real beauty though is not, as they say, in the eye of the beholder. The real greatness, beauty, or specialty, of this record breaking squad is there refusal to play any other way. like Barcelona every opposition they come up against , formulate a plan or attempt to stop this system from working.  This often makes for an almost  boring game, as the opposition is quite literally passed to death as they attempt to park the proverbial bus in front of goal.

However, the Spanish will not change their style as they know no other way. This is what really makes them special. Similarly to Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, Del Bosque has a founded, nourished and developed a formula . A different formula, but a winning formula, and one at which the players were  taught at a young age in the academies and one which will be utilised and performed every time they take to the field. In the case of Manchester United the 90s boys of Giggs, Scholes, Beckham and co. were taught Ferguson’s formula which led to success and in accordance to  greatness. It is no surprise that the Spanish champions, not by Del Boqsue himself, that  Xavi, Fabregas, Iniesta et al were all taught the same style and winning formula at Barcelona’s academy as young prodigious footballers. This has clearly been the catalyst for the way this group of players have performed at the most elite level of football and has propelled them amongst, and arguably above, the greatest football teams of all time.

It really goes to show what happens when their is proper introspection and deliberation applied to a the grass roots of football and when there is an effective footballing model put into place. The records have been broken, the trophies are hanging in the cabinet. Not because they had more desire, strength, or will than any other player who took to the field in Poland and Ukraine. The reason is these naturally gifted and blessed individuals have been nourished, and cultivated into a team that is almost impossible to score against and, not far from unbeatable. Not only that, when they play it is poetry in motion and really is what the beautiful game is all about.

They are that good it’s boring.

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